Male Factor Fertility
Infertility affects women and men equally. In fact, nearly half of couples have difficulties due to male factor fertility, which may be caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or blockages preventing the delivery of sperm to a woman’s egg. In another third of heterosexual couples struggling with fertility, it’s unclear if the cause is attributable to the man or woman. This is why both partners are included in a fertility evaluation to understand the best path forward regarding treatment and care.
We’ve talked about the ways fertility and health are intertwined, particularly for men. To recognize Men’s Health Month, we’ll dispel myths surrounding male infertility and walk through some of the ways you can take control of your health and boost your fertility.
Common Myths About Male Infertility
Myth: Age doesn’t affect a man’s fertility
As we age, our body begins to “slow down,” which includes overall sperm production and function for a man. This typically begins around age 40. While this doesn’t mean conception is impossible, it means that if you’re actively planning on starting a family and looking for the most opportune chance to conceive successfully, you should be cognizant of your or your partner’s age.
Myth: Low testosterone levels cause infertility
While testosterone does help with sperm production, levels in the blood and the testes can be different. Oftentimes, the level in the latter is significantly higher than in the blood, meaning someone who appears to have low levels may still have enough for healthy sperm production. In fact, testosterone treatments can decrease follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, essential for stimulating sperm production.
Myth: Temperature doesn’t impact sperm count
Keeping your internal temperature down will help improve sperm production and your overall health. An increase in scrotum or testicle temperature can reduce sperm count, and the quality of the sperm. Further, when your body temperature begins to rise from 95 degrees Fahrenheit, sperm motility begins to be adversely affected.
Myth: Hard drugs are the only kind that impacts male fertility
While true that illegal drugs like marijuana impact sperm count, smoking tobacco or excessive drinking can result in decreased male fertility. Both cigarettes and alcohol are linked to reduced testosterone production in men. Men who smoke have a 20% decrease in sperm count and motility. Stopping smoking for three months will allow a threefold increase in sperm count and motility. Decreased fertility is generally seen in men who consume three glasses of wine daily or its equivalent.
How to Manage Your Health and Boost Fertility
As you can see, one of the ways to boost fertility is to manage your health. A few ways to help increase male fertility include:
- Eating a nutritious, balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, and nuts (specifically, walnuts to help reduce cell damage to sperm). Additionally, you should limit foods such as processed meats, soy products, high-fat dairy items, foods with trans fats, and those produced using pesticides and bisphenol (BPA).
- Manage your stress since it can interfere with the production of testosterone and related hormones needed to produce quality sperm. Stress also gets in the way of a healthy sex drive.
- Take vitamins and minerals that work collectively to help boost testosterone levels and increase the quality and quantity of sperm. Some key ones are Vitamin D, C, and E, as well as Zinc and folic acid.
Fertility Centers of New England is Here to Help
Even if you follow best practices related to your health, you may need to seek the guidance of a fertility specialist to help with options that enable you to increase your chances of successful conception and pregnancy. We’re here to be that partner for you and help walk you through the ways to increase fertility and grow your family. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation–which is free for patients without fertility insurance.