When it comes to infertility, many women feel that the responsibility or problem is all on them, but the reality of the issue is that there is an equal chance of either sex having an issue. In cases of infertility, 1 in 3 cases are due to the women, 1 in 3 cases due to the men, and 1 in 3 cases are due to issues with both.1
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive following six months to a year of unprotected sex without pregnancy. After the age of 35, the chance of pregnancy for women becomes lower, and progressively drops every year following. For men, there is less of a decline in the ability to procreate; unlike women who only have so many eggs, men are able to constantly renew their supply of sperm. However, as time progresses, sperm can become less mobile or abnormally shaped, making reproduction less likely.
Causes of Male Infertility
Like women, male infertility can be caused by several factors including cigarette smoke, alcohol consumption, or recreational drug use. Certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy, medical issues like kidney disease, or physical damage to the testicles during surgery or blunt trauma can also be a cause of male infertility.2
Exposure to chemicals or certain metals, such as lead, can cause lasting problems throughout life, including infertility. Your weight also plays a role in the chances of conceiving, particularly if you are considered obese.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Infertility
Whether you’re already suffering from infertility or you’re working to prevent it, there are things you can do to maintain your sexual health. Physical activity, such as working out at the gym, going for a run, or taking a bike ride helps decrease the risk for heart disease, which can lead to infertility. It also improves weight levels in men who are obese or nearing obesity. A healthy diet is also recommended for those concerned with the possibility of infertility. Eating whole natural foods, even natural fats, is better for both men and women when trying to conceive, than eating processed food.
Another way to lower your risk of infertility is to limit or halt bad habits such as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Both have been proven to alter the chances of procreation. If you take a medication that is impacting fertility, you can speak to your doctor about possibly changing brands, the dosage, or the medication to find something less problematic.
For some men, there’s no real cause for infertility that can be found. Some men are genetically unable to reproduce, and in these cases a sperm donor may be used to create a baby. Donor sperm can help produce a healthy baby and a normal pregnancy and delivery.
Supporting Your Male Partner is Important
When it comes to sexual health and fertility, men, like women, can take it quite hard when they are found to be the root of a problem reproducing. At a personal level, it can seem quite emasculating, which is why it’s so important to support your partner. When it comes to fertility, it’s widely recognized that women should be treated with care and the subject should be treated with sensitivity, but this also needs to be practiced for men.
If your male partner is dealing with infertility issues, be compassionate and supportive. Attending doctor appointments, offering help with any treatments that are prescribed, and simply being a shoulder to lean on can be incredibly helpful in the coping process.
It’s important to recognize that infertility is quite common, affecting approximately 13% of couples across America.1 If you are concerned that infertility might be preventing you from having a child, speak to your doctor about possible treatment options.