With so much online centered around women’s reproductive health and female infertility, it’s time we turn our attention to the other half of the population.
In this article we are going to explore the top 5 myths around male infertility and some common assumptions around them.
Male Infertility Myth Number One:
Societal and Traditional Assumptions
Even though research shows that sperm counts have declined 50% over the last 50 years, when it comes to difficulties to achieving pregnancy, it is still often assumed that the woman is the main culprit.
Decreasing sperm counts mean that men now contribute to up to 50% of overall infertility in the 1 in 6 couples that are affected. Infertility is no longer primarily a woman’s issue.
Male Infertility Myth Number Two:
Men are fertile until they reach a ripe old age
Charlie Chaplin, Robert Dinero, and Al Pacino have all become fathers at 70 plus. While it is true that men produce sperm and can potentially father children later in life, this is less likely to be possible in the future. Sperm counts decline 1% on average every year. This means a man that has a sub-optimal sperm count in his 20s or 30s will be lucky to become a father in his 40s, much less in his golden years.
Male Infertility Myth Number Three:
Men don’t have to think about their fertility until they are ready to have children. If at all.
Sperm health is the cumulation of overall health over an entire lifespan. If men have poor dietary habits, consume drugs, drink too much alcohol or deplete their energetic reserves from working long hours or partying too much, it takes a toll on semen parameters. The accumulative effects of unhealthy habits and lifestyle are not to be underestimated and can have long-lasting effect on a man’s fertile potential.
Male Infertility Myth Number Four:
A semen analysis will determine the problem
Unfortunately, this is simply not true. A semen analysis, also called a spermiogram, can only determine IF there is a problem, not the source of the problem. If sperm parameters are off, further testing is needed to determine the root cause of the problem.
Even if an initial semen analysis shows that all criteria have been met for a good sample, further testing for sperm DNA fragmentation needs to be considered if there is a delay to achieving pregnancy.
Male Infertility Myth Number Five:
IVF will resolve the issue and lead to pregnancy
For a minority, IVF is a modern miracle. Some couples will have success using IVF to create their family. Yet, there is no guarantee that it will result in a pregnancy or live birth. While there have been great improvements in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) over the last 40 years, approximately only 20-30% of those undergoing treatment will have a successful round of IVF.
Male Factor Infertility is a complex topic that is, unfortunately, affecting more and more men worldwide. Early detection is key to find the best path forward to starting a family.
Agarwal A, Mulgund A, Hamada A, Chyatte MR. A unique view on male infertility around the globe. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2015 Apr 26;13:37. doi: 10.1186/s12958-015-0032-1. PMID: 25928197; PMCID: PMC4424520.
Levine H, Jørgensen N, Martino-Andrade A, Mendiola J, Weksler-Derri D, Mindlis I, Pinotti R, Swan SH. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Hum Reprod Update. 2017 Nov 1;23(6):646-659. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmx022. PMID: 28981654; PMCID: PMC6455044
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