Did you know that Male Infertility affects 1 in 7 couples in the UK? Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse. Typically, 84% of couples successfully conceive naturally over the course of a year with regular, unprotected sex. The causes for male infertility or female infertility range from lifestyle issues to more complex conditions.
Diagnosis, treatment and care for male infertility specifically is less common in the UK, with only a few consultant urologists dedicated to this field. However, the best care starts with education and informed decision-making. These are some of the most common myths about male infertility and the truth behind them.
1. Fertility and infertility are a woman’s problem
Both men and women may experience fertility issues. When couples attempt their first pregnancy, about 15% fail to conceive. After seeking treatment, a male factor can be the cause in up to 50% of cases - so it is half of the problems.
If fertility is a concern, both partners should seek fertility consultations for professional assistance and diagnoses of the problem. Diagnosing issues begins with assessing both partners’ fertility. Having a child requires two people with functional reproductive systems.
2. Masturbating too much causes infertility
The simple answer is that masturbation doesn’t have any major effects on fertility. Excessive ejaculation can result in a temporary drop in sperm count, but does not typically directly result in fertility issues. Your body will produce more sperm in time again.
If you plan to discuss fertility concerns with your doctor or urologist, remember that your sexual history will be included. A urologist will be able to discuss with you and best explain which sexual habits you should consider to maximise your fertility.
3. Men can easily have children all their lives
Sperm function, like many bodily functions, decline with age. While men may continue to produce sperm throughout their entire life, the quality and quantity of sperm decreases. So both partners do see a reduction in fertility with age.
Men begin to lose sperm at around 2% per year from ages 30-40, and then significantly after the age of 50. If you are hoping to conceive and are concerned about your age, consider making an appointment with a consultant urologist to have a fertility assessment.
4. Male infertility is always due to low sperm or testosterone
There are various causes for male infertility. These can include but are not limited to:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hormonal problems
- Chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- Previous surgeries on the testis
- Drugs and medications
- Sperm DNA damage and other genetic problems
There are rare cases where no cause can be determined, but that does not mean treatment options are not available for those wishing to conceive together.
5. Avoiding ejaculation or sex increases fertility
The good news is that long periods of abstinence are not going to increase fertility by any extreme degrees. Withholding ejaculation or abstaining from sex can temporarily increase overall sperm count according to some research but this is not the only effect that abstinence has.
Abstinence can affect sperm count, sperm health, sperm motility and sperm morphology.
6. Taking testosterone will help increase fertility
Low testosterone may affect a man’s libido, and can affect fertility to some degree. Under no circumstances should you take any hormone supplements without first discussing it with your doctor or urologist.
Taking testosterone without the supervision of a health professional can in fact lead to lowered fertility rates. Taking testosterone supplements and bodybuilding drugs results in the body producing less testosterone by itself and reduces sperm count and is not something you want if you are looking to boost your fertility. So definitely stay away from the supplements.
7. Lifestyle does not affect male fertility
Various lifestyle factors all affect fertility and infertility, including but not limited to:
- Drug and alcohol use
For a deeper understanding of common lifestyle influences on male infertility, read about 9 common lifestyle factors that could affect male fertility.
When to visit a urologist
Any questions or concerns you have about male infertility can be brought to a urologist. Since a urologist specialises in understanding the male reproductive system, they will have the most knowledge and treatment options for you to discuss male infertility.
If you are looking to conceive but have not had any success, or have a concern about male infertility, make an appointment with the urologists at London Andrology. Our urologists are some of the most eminent in the UK and will be happy to help discuss your fertility concerns with a high degree of professionalism, sensitivity and understanding.