While most people generally believe that an infertility problem with couples is the “fault” of the woman, statistics show that it’s a 50/50 chance that the problem lies with the male. Approximately 1 in 10 men will be faced with the fact that they are infertile.
While problems with fertility range from a low sperm count to sperm delivery malfunctions, the issue of male infertility remains.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, approximately 27% of men have infertility or subfertility. It is a significant problem for a man’s reproductive health. The most common cause of male infertility is low sperm count, and it occurs when there are too few sperm cells present in the ejaculate. The man can have less than 50 million sperm cells per milliliter of semen, or the total number of sperm in the ejaculate is less than 15 million. Sperm counts below 5 million is considered to be a low sperm count.
That’s why the first step in the treatment and prevention of male infertility is increasing sperm count. However, it all depends on particular cause of low male fertility.
Can male infertility be prevented? What treatment options do men have? What can a man do to improve his chances of impregnating his partner?
Let’s take a look at these important questions.
Of course, not all infertility issues can be avoided; however, there are changes you can make to your lifestyle that can improve your chances of avoiding infertility.
It’s important to have a core of healthy habits and lifestyle changes in place that will help you avoid the experience of infertility. These habits and lifestyle changes include eating a diet low in sugar and high in healthy fats, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, practicing birth control, and eating a healthy diet. As well, eating a diet high in healthy fats will help you prevent certain other ailments, like type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and osteoporosis. Also, having healthy blood sugar levels will reduce the likelihood that you will develop diabetes, another common cause of infertility.
These are the most common tips that will help you prevent male infertility:
- Limit your exposure to toxins, such as pesticides, mercury, lead-based paint, and boron. These things decrease sperm production.
- Avoid certain medications known to affect sperm counts, such as testosterone supplement, Propecia, DHEA, and steroids.
- Avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, stop.
- Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
- Keep things cool. Limit things like saunas, hot tubs, and even very hot baths while you and your partner are trying to conceive.
- Wear boxers, not briefs.
- Don’t sit for long periods of time. Stand up and walk for at least 3 minutes every 60 minutes.
- If you missed out, get vaccinated against childhood diseases, especially chicken pox and mumps. These can lead to infertility if you catch them as an adult.
If your test shows that you are no longer able to produce fertile sperm, or if you think you might be infertile, it is always good to consult a fertility specialist to find a proper treatment.
Treatments for infertility vary as the root causes for infertility can vary. Of course for some men, problems cannot be treated and must simply be accepted.
For most men, however, treatment options will include:
- Hormonal abnormalities can be corrected with natural fertility medications. It is possible to find herbs and supplements that can help increase male fertility by increasing and improving sperm count and quality.
- Abnormal veins (varicoceles) can be repaired with surgery.
- Obstructions in the sperm delivery system can sometimes be corrected with surgery.
- If previous surgeries cause retrograde ejaculation, where the semen goes into the bladder, rather than out of the penis, surgery can sometimes repair the damage.
Often times, simple lifestyle changes, such as changing from briefs to boxers and quitting smoking, is enough to restore the sperm count back to normal.
However, for some men, their problems simply cannot be corrected. There are other options for having a child, however, including:
- IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) – Sperm is removed from the male and, at the time of ovulation, injected directly into the uterus. Many women are given medications to increase egg production and improve their chances of becoming pregnant.
- ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injections) – A single sperm is injected through a tiny needle into the egg of a female. Fertilized eggs are then transplanted into the uterus. This works well when sperm counts are extremely low.
- IVF (In-vitro Fertilization) – Perhaps the best of all the methods, sperm is mixed with multiple eggs in a test tube. Once fertilized, eggs are then placed in the uterus.
Most couples find that after several months, they have a 50 percent success rate of becoming pregnant.
Various natural fertility medications may also help to increase fertility by improving the quality of your semen, as well as reducing the risk of male infertility. Speak to your doctor about addressing your infertility problems or your options for having a baby using one of the above methods.