People make a lot of assumptions about fertility.
For one, they presume that it’s easy to become pregnant. In truth, it can take 6-12 months to become pregnant, even with couples who don’t have fertility issues. Research shows that 1 in 6 people experience infertility worldwide.
Another unfortunate assumption people make is that challenges with conception often occur because of the female reproductive system. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
When looking at couples affected by infertility, one-third of cases occur because of female infertility, one-third from male infertility, and one-third from both individuals or unknown factors. And in recent years, the increasing numbers of male infertility have been gaining attention.
Dr. Tony Tsai and his team at The New York Fertility Center work with people trying to conceive. They know that infertility can occur for numerous reasons, but their skills and experience enable them to identify what’s going on in each situation in order to make personalized recommendations on how to move forward.
In this blog, our experts shed light on why male infertility is on the rise and how our team can help.
Understanding male infertility
Male fertility problems can arise for many reasons, and it can go all the way back to puberty, when reproductive organs grow and form. Conception requires four elements from a man:
- Healthy sperm production
- Semen to carry sperm
- Enough sperm in the semen
- Normal sperm movement and function
These may seem simple enough. However, several things can interfere with each of these elements, making it impossible for sperm to reach or fertilize an egg.
Common causes of male infertility include:
- Hormone imbalances
- Swelling of the veins draining the testicles
- Erectile dysfunction or ejaculation issues
- Blockages in sperm within the testicles
- Undescended testicles
- Celiac disease
- Certain medications, including steroids
- Previous injury or surgery
- Genetic factors, including chromosome defects
However, male infertility also has direct links to environment and lifestyle.
Environment, lifestyle, and male fertility
Recent findings show sperm counts falling globally at a rate of more than 2.6% each year — a stark jump from the 1.2% yearly declines seen from 1973 to 2018. Exposure to chemical contaminants in the environment and lifestyle factors are possible contributors.
Studies show that several chemicals found in everyday households — including plastics, the food chain, electronic devices, personal care products, cleaning supplies, and even the air — can damage fertility. Production of these chemicals increased significantly after 1950, when declines first started appearing in sperm counts and fertility.
The problem is that these chemicals can alter hormones. And not only do they affect reproductive hormones, but they also cause other problems with the endocrine system, such as autoimmune disorders, obesity, and metabolic issues.
In addition to environmental factors, lifestyle choices can affect a man’s fertility across his lifetime.
For instance, certain substances have a proven impact on sperm quality and production, including anabolic steroids, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. Research also shows that weight, diet, activity level, and stress can affect male fertility.
Treating male infertility
You can’t control all aspects of your fertility. However, you can make proactive choices to reduce potential problems.
For example, new findings show that physical activity can significantly improve male reproductive potential. One positive step is to make regular exercise a priority, especially if you have a sedentary job.
Additionally, clean up your diet and work to reach — and maintain — a healthy weight. Avoid using substances with known links to male infertility, like anabolic steroids and tobacco.
These changes alone can improve your fertility and overall health.
On top of these steps, our team can look for additional issues affecting your infertility with a thorough exam that may include:
- Reviewing your medical history and steroid use
- Discussing your lifestyle and symptoms
- Hormone testing
- Semen analysis
- Scrotal ultrasound
- Post-ejaculation urinalysis
Once we have a clear understanding of your fertility issue, we can offer recommendations and treatments. This can range from discontinuing steroid use to taking male infertility medications.
Are you concerned about your fertility? Contact The New York Fertility Center at either New York office — in Downtown Flushing Queens or the Flatiron District in Manhattan — to schedule a consultation today.