We have a special guest blogger today, in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week — Dr. Akash Kapadia from Wellstar Urology. You may recognize him as your friendly male fertility specialist, working closely with our team here at ACRM.
I'm here today to answer many of the questions that couples have and also dispel many myths that a lot of couples have about male infertility.
Before we get started, let's recognize infertility is a common experience in our society. As many as one in eight couples experience infertility worldwide. So this isn't just a problem in the US — that's as many as 48 million couples globally.
So, let's normalize conversations about infertility and dig into some common myths:
Myth 1: Infertility is rare in men.
Now, this is truly the mythology of olden times and it does not belong in the twenty-first century and certainly not in 2021. It used to be that men would only subject themselves to a simple test after women had undergone all sorts of testing.
Well, the truth is 20% of couples experience infertility due to male factor only. And another 30% of couples experience infertility because of both female and male factor. Therefore, men really contribute to 50% of infertility and thus should get tested at the same time as their partners.
Myth 2: Lifestyle factors don't affect sperm.
Now, this one is a little bit harder to study, but we do have good enough data that shows lifestyle factors like poor sleep, severe stress in life, poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive use of both tobacco and alcohol can impact sperm quality.
Myth 3: Testosterone supplements or shots can help sperm.
No, absolutely not! I want to make it clear to all couples, as well as their well-intentioned doctors out there who suggest testosterone shots for the purposes of fertility. Exogenous testosterone or testosterone from outside the body is actually a contraceptive and it will suppress sperm production. So please avoid at all costs!
Myth 4: There are no treatments for low sperm counts.
Well, the truth could not be further from it. There are many known causes of low sperm counts or oligospermia, and equally, there are treatment options for several of the causes. So I would emphasize that it's important to see a male fertility specialist if you've got low sperm counts.
Myth 5: Boxers are better than briefs.
This is a really good one. It goes to the root of the matter, which is that the testicles perform better when they're two to three degrees cooler than the rest of the body, and that's why they sit outside the body.
And so my simple advice to men is that they avoid excessive heat to the testicles in the form of things like really prolonged hot showers, daily use of hot tubs or daily use of saunas, especially around the time that they're trying to conceive. Other than that, I would say wear the underwear that feels the most comfortable to you!
Dr. Kapadia is a fellowship-trained urologist in Atlanta specializing in Male Fertility & Men’s Health. He is passionate about helping men achieve their dreams of fatherhood as well as restoring their confidence with intimacy. He also works closely with female fertility specialists — like the team here at Atlanta Center for Reproductive Medicine — in the Atlanta area, and provides comprehensive fertility care for couples. Visit his website for more information»