Male infertility: What does it mean?
1 in 5 couples has difficulties getting pregnant. Often, people believe that the cause must be found with the woman’s fertility. However, the reason is just as often 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 is male infertility?
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 the sperm quality or the sperm count. This can be examined by having a sperm analysis done in for example 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.
What factors influence male infertility?
There are several factors which can influence the ability to conceive. Some of them can be modified to improve the male fertility.
First of all, there are several life style factors that can affect the sperm. Alcohol consumption, cigarettes and especially marihuana are all 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.
Apart from life style factors, previous history of sexually transmitted diseases and genetic factors can play an important role.
Another factor is weight. Both overweight and underweight can have a bad effect on the sperm quality causing male infertility.
How to improve male fertility?
There are things you can do in order to improve the fertility. For example, lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking and the level of exercise are all things that you can moderate quite easily. When it comes to smoking and drinking, you can even quit completely – at least during the period you are trying to conceive.
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 a better chance of conceiving a child.
Be aware that 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 are trying to conceive without success it may be a good idea to have your sperm quality tested. This can give an indication of the underlying problem that causes the issues. Depending on the cause, there are fertility treatment methods to help a couple conceive, even if the sperm analysis shows poor quality and/or a low sperm count.
If you have tried to conceive for a year without success, we recommend you to contact your own doctor, who knows how to help you.