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Why We Need to Change the Way We Think About Male Fertility
Most people are aware that women have a biological clock. Beginning at age 35, women’s chances of getting pregnant decrease and the likelihood of birth defects increase. What many people don’t know is that infertility is just as common for men as it is for women.
However, conversations about male fertility are often hampered by harmful myths, misconceptions, and social stigmas. Not only does this make it difficult for men to talk openly about infertility and to get the information and support they need, but it can also cause those looking to start a family to delay seeking treatment.
Not Just a Women’s Issue
While it’s true that men produce millions of new sperm every day, whereas women have a limited number of eggs for life, this doesn’t mean that men can aide in conception as easily in middle age as they can at, say, age 25.
Once men turn 40, their testosterone levels begin to drop and their sperm decrease in motility, which refers to their ability to swim toward an egg. After age 40, sperm also have a higher chance of being abnormally shaped, which means they are less likely to fertilize an egg. When sperm lose motility and/or are abnormally shaped, fertilization can take longer. In fact, studies have shown that for men over the age of 45, fertilization can take as much as five times longer than for their younger counterparts.
This, in turn, can result in other issues. When men mistakenly believe that the quality and quantity of their sperm stay the same as they age, their female partners may be led to believe that they must be the sole source of any fertility problems. Not only can this cause emotional turmoil, anxiety, and frustration in a relationship, it can also cause couples to delay seeking treatment and support.
Virility Doesn’t Equal Fertility
Years of media misconceptions have spread the belief that a lack of fertility means a lack of masculinity or virility. This is entirely false, and the anxieties and potential embarrassment surrounding this misconception cause some men to delay having their semen tested, or they may decline to test it at all.
A common cause of infertility is a low sperm count, or oligospermia. While some men are simply born with a lower count than others, several other factors can play a role, such as obesity, smoking, alcoholism, stress, and STDs.
Being aware of these various factors—and knowing how to prevent or mitigate the ones that can be controlled—can make a big difference for couples struggling to conceive. Having a grasp of male fertility, understanding the various factors that can affect it, and knowing what treatments are available can allow couples to seek help sooner and to begin exploring options for growing their families.
Seeking Treatment for Male Infertility
At Male Fertility MD, our male fertility specialists will help determine the cause of your male fertility obstacles and work to find a solution that makes sense for your specific needs and goals. Reach out to the team today to learn more.