What causes male infertility and how to prevent it
Up to 1 in 5 couples have difficulties getting pregnant. Often, people believe that the cause must be found with the woman’s fertility. However, the reason may also be caused by a problem with the male fertility. In fact, 1 in 4 men has reduced sperm quality which can lead to problems becoming parents.
What does male infertility mean?
Male infertility means that the man has a fertility issue that causes problems getting his partner pregnant. There are often no other signs of male infertility than the inability to conceive.
Male infertility is caused by a problem with the sperm. It could be a low sperm count, abnormal sperms cells or a complete lack of sperm cells. The exact problem can be examined by having a sperm analysis done, for example at a fertility clinic.
The sperm quality is measured by looking at the sperm cells’ ability to move as well as their size and shape. The sperm count is the number of sperm cells in a sample. This is also referred to as motility or MOT. If the number is lower than 15 million sperm cells per millilitre sperm, the man has a low sperm count. However, the quality of a man’s sperm varies over time, and poor sperm quality and a low sperm count can be a temporary issue.
What causes male infertility?
There are several factors which can influence the ability to conceive. Some of them can be modified to overcome male infertility.
First, there are several lifestyle factors that can affect the sperm. Alcohol consumption, cigarettes and especially marihuana are things that are known to have a negative effect on the fertility. Likewise, too little or even too much exercise can have a negative influence on the male fertility. Weight is also a factor. Both overweight and underweight can have a harmful effect on the sperm quality causing male infertility.
Apart from life style factors, for example previous history of sexually transmitted diseases, a hormonal disorder, cancer treatment or genetic factors can be the reason (americanpregnancy.org).
How to improve male fertility?
If a man experiences infertility due to life style factors, there are several things he can do to improve his fertility. For example, smoking, drinking and the level of exercise are all things that can be moderated. When it comes to smoking and drinking, it is advisable to quit completely during the period of conception.
Likewise, a healthy diet and a reasonable level of exercise can help balancing the weight, which can help improve the sperm quality and thereby, provide better chances of conceiving a child.
It can take up to three months before a change in for example lifestyle can be measured in the sperm quality.
What are the options if you experience male infertility?
If a couple has tried to conceive without success for a year, they should visit a doctor or a fertility clinic. This can give an indication of the underlying problem that causes the issue. If a sperm analysis reveals poor sperm quality and/or a low sperm count, a couple may still be able to have a child. Depending on the cause, there are different fertility treatment methods to help couples conceive.
Male infertility and donor sperm
If other treatment methods do not work, using donor sperm for fertility treatment can be a solution. If deciding to use donor sperm, both parents will have the parental rights of the child. Although the man will not be genetically related to the child, the child will be raised with love from both parents. Thus, the fact that the child does not carry the man’s genes, will not necessarily have a negative effect on the man’s parental feelings towards his child.
You can read about how to choose a sperm donor for fertility treatment here.