Infertility… It’s more than a woman thing.

Infertility affects one in eight couples! While fertility issues are thought to be more closely related to women due to multiple possibilities including irregular menstrual cycles, ovulation disorders, egg quality and quantity issues and problems with the fallopian tubes, we can’t overlook the possibility that about one third to one half of infertility problems are related to male factor. When trying to conceive it’s important that both the male and the female be evaluated to assess why pregnancy isn’t happening naturally.

Testing the male partner is the easiest and least expensive way to start the diagnostic evaluation for most couples. A semen analysis can be performed to evaluate the quantity of sperm (sperm count and concentration), the shape of the sperm (morphology, as only normal shaped sperm are able to penetrate the egg to fertilize it) and lastly how many of the sperm are motile or moving as they need to swim a very long journey to reach the egg for fertilization. In this case, the fastest, best looking sperm gets the egg!!

So, what can be done if there are issues with the sperm? Knowledge is power! Understanding more about fertility issues can help patients make better informed decisions and possibly lifestyle changes to improve their health overall.

Let’s look at some common causes of sperm issues…

Heat: Sperm counts decrease in warmer temperatures like, saunas, hot tubs and even working with a laptop computer sitting on the lap. Anything that heats up the genitals should be avoided when trying to achieve pregnancy.

Obesity: High Body Mass Index (BMI) can also contribute to low sperm counts due to both increase in body fat and temperatures and possible hormonal effects of excess body weight on sperm production.

Smoking: Everyone knows that smoking is horrible for overall health but, did you know it’s also bad for sperm and egg quality, too. In addition, excessive alcohol use and illicit drug use such as opioids and even marijuana can also cause decrease in sperm production and quality.

Male supplements and testosterone boosters: Medicines and supplements that contain testosterone or testosterone-like substances can actually have an adverse effect on sperm production. These male hormones can often cause complete shutdown of sperm production. Please tell your doctor if you are using now or in the recent past any of these types of substances.

Infertility can be a very stressful and emotional issue to deal with but, working with a reproductive endocrinologist who’s trained specifically in fertility treatments can be the best place to get you started!!

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