When people hear of a couple having difficulty conceiving, female infertility comes to mind. But, what about male infertility?
Although it isn’t as openly discussed, male infertility is more common than you may think — accounting for 20-30% of infertility cases and contributing to 50% of cases overall.
If you’re reading this, all hope is not lost. Here's what you need to know:
Get the Facts Before You Give Up
Even though not conceiving after 12 months of trying can be daunting, understanding common causes of male infertility can help identify potential reasons why you and your partner haven’t gotten pregnant yet.
By understanding what may be causing your difficulty of conception, you are able to be proactive by taking the next steps to visit a fertility specialist.
Consider Making Lifestyle Changes
As you may have just read, one common cause of male infertility involves one’s lifestyle and daily habits. But even just small changes can naturally improve sperm quantity and quality.
Immediate changes you can make:
- Watch your weight: Much like women may experience fertility problems from being overweight or underweight, men can experience the same complications.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can affect sperm count, sperm motility (movement), and sperm shape (morphology).
- Reduce alcohol use: Studies have shown that heavy drinking may lower testosterone levels and reduce sperm quantity and quality.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Ensure your diet includes the necessary vitamins, antioxidants and healthy fats your body needs.
Unlike women who are born with all of their eggs, the male body is continuously creating sperm. The process of sperm production takes an average of 74 days from start to finish, thus making immediate lifestyle changes (and sticking to them) may result in improvements in sperm quality and/or quantity in a few month’s time.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
It is easy to let stress continue to build up until you’ve reached a breaking point. Although it may seem easier said than done, finding healthy coping strategies to keep your mind and body occupied can actually help increase your ability to conceive.
Some of the ways you can reduce your stress levels include:
- Get moving: Whether it’s running, basketball, or swimming—regular physical activity has been proven to reduce stress. The best part, it’s free! Take advantage of this and aim to get some exercise several times a week.
- Take time to relax: By practicing meditation, yoga, or even getting a massage, you can improve anxiety, depression, and even physical tension.
- Get adequate sleep: While stress can keep you up at night, sleep is a great stress reducer. By adding more exercise and relaxation techniques to your daily routine, you may find you’ll improve your sleep habits as well.
- Let yourself feel sad: Although it is a stereotype that men shouldn’t cry, it is a cathartic release that can help reduce stress and decrease your breathing and heart rate. Similarly, laughing at a funny movie or hanging out with your friends can have a similar effect.
Talk About It
Although it is a stereotype, it often holds true that men are less likely to open up about their feelings, especially when it comes to something as sensitive and intimate as fertility issues. Speaking with someone, whether it’s your partner, a doctor, or a support group, and talking about your difficulty of conception may lessen the burden.
Consider Your Options
Facing infertility as a man can be especially difficult as you don’t always know how long the issue will last. With both your partner and a fertility specialist, you should discuss what options are available to you, this may include:
- IUI (Intrauterine Insemination): This process is straightforward. The male partner will produce a specimen, which is then “washed” in the laboratory to remove impurities. Only the healthiest sperm is left to be placed inside the uterus.
- IVF (In Vitro Fertilization): In this method, fertilization occurs outside of the body. Motile (swimming) sperm can be collected and concentrated from the husband's semen and placed in direct contact with the egg in a culture environment in the IVF lab. Once fertilization has occurred and normal embryo development is confirmed, it is transferred to the uterus.
- ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection): Here at ACRM, we offer the most advanced micromanipulation technique, called ICSI, in which a single sperm is injected directly into the egg using a glass micro-needle.
From there, you and your partner can decide what avenues you are emotionally and financially able to consider.
Contact Our Georgia Infertility Specialists at ACRM
When it comes to trying to understand and treating male infertility, it is best to consult your PCP and as well as a fertility specialist. At ACRM, we work with a board of urologists who specialize in male fertility throughout the Atlanta area to ensure you receive the best treatment and care. Contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators today.