Male infertility: Doctors debunk myths, share facts and healthy prevention tips

Updated on Feb 23, 2022 06:30 PM IST

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the signs and causes of male infertility. Doctors debunk some of the most common myths about male infertility and help you to learn more about what could be impacting a couple's ability to have a baby.

Male infertility: Doctors debunk myths, share facts and healthy prevention tips (Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash)
Male infertility: Doctors debunk myths, share facts and healthy prevention tips (Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Male fertility is quite dependent on the body mass index (BMI) and extra body weight can cause many fertility struggles since a study has suggested that obesity can reduce the quality of men's sperm. It is a lesser known fact that overweight men have significantly lower sperm counts than men of normal weight but male reproductive health is rarely discussed in India or anywhere in the globe and even when infertility is recognised, it is met with disappointment and humiliation since the capacity to reproduce is assumed.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and Co-founder of Indira IVF highlighted, “When a couple is unable to conceive, the female has been always unfairly blamed. It is one of the most widespread fallacies to date, and it stems from the fact that women are at the centre of the whole process, from conception through full-term pregnancy to nursing and caring for their children.”

He stressed that infertility has been medically confirmed to be caused by underlying disorders in both sexes. Echoing the same, Dr Abhinandan Sadalge, Consultant, Urology at PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Khar, criticised, “When a couple has trouble getting pregnant it’s common to assume that the woman’s fertility is the reason. However, male infertility is nearly as likely to be the cause as female infertility is.”

Given that there is a lot of mystery surrounding the signs and causes of male infertility, Dr Kshitiz Murdia and Dr Abhinandan Sadalge debunked some of the most common myths about male infertility to help educate more about what could be impacting a couple's ability to have a baby.

Myth 1: Sperm quality is the only factor in male infertility

High quality sperm is necessary for conception.

Fact: Overall health influences fertility. Sperm quality is a crucial element of a male fertility, but it’s not the only factor. Hormone levels, obesity, smoking, alcohol and certain medication can negatively affect fertility.

Myth 2: Infertility is not common in men

Infertility affects upto 15% of couples. It’s common for women to assume that infertility is their problem, because pregnancy occurs in the female body.

Fact: Infertility affects men and women equally. Infertility is linked to man as equally as it is to female infertility. One in 25 men experiences male fertility. About 30% of all infertility cases are caused by a male factor and another 30% are the result of a female factor. The remaining 30 – 40% of infertility instances are either a combination of male and female infertility or the exact cause is unclear.

Myth 3: Infertility is exclusively linked to reproductive health; it has nothing to do with general well-being.

Fact: Infertility can be caused by a variety of circumstances other than difficulties with one's reproductive health. The human body is a complicated mechanism in which each function is tightly linked to the next. For instance, several studies have found that hypertension has a direct effect on sperm quantity, quality, and motility. With increased levels of environmental stresses, as well as the use of hazardous foods and drugs, researchers have seen an increase in blood pressure and a reduction in sperm health with time.

Stress has a direct impact on men’s mental and emotional well-being, as well as their physical health. It may trigger the release of hormones such glucocorticoids, which can lower testosterone levels and sperm production. Apart from stress, an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle has been identified as one of the key reasons among men. Male reproductive health is also harmed by a poor diet and lack of physical exercise.

Myth 4: Infertility is not connected to substance use

Fact: Male fertility has been reported to be reduced by regular consumption of drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol. In comparison to individuals who do not smoke, studies have indicated that smoking causes a reduction in sperm density, total sperm count, and total number of motile sperm. One of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction is this. In males, excessive alcohol use can have a comparable effect on fertility, as well as a fall in testosterone levels.

Myth 5: Age isn’t a factor in male infertility

People assume that men can father children at any age and male infertility does not decline with age.

Fact: Male fertility declines with age. Age does not impact male fertility in exactly the same way as female infertility. Sperm count and quality gradually decrease as you get older. Erectile dysfunction and other health conditions are more common in older men and can impact your fertility.

Myth 6: Male fertility is unaffected by STIs and STDs

Fact: Male infertility can be caused by sexually transmitted illnesses or infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. A high percentage of teenagers and young adults who have caught any STI/Ds may go undiagnosed. As a result, individuals may be unaware that they have contracted any STIs or Ds, which can have a significant influence on sexual and reproductive health and, in the long run, leading to infertility. By influencing the quality and quantity of sperm, these STI/Ds raise the risk of sexual health issues and induce infertility in males. However, this may be avoided by limiting the number of sexual partners one has, using protection during intercourse, and getting frequent STI/Ds testing.

Prevention tips:

According to Dr Abhinandan Sadalge, recent developments in treatment have made fertility possible for many men but before undergoing any complicated procedures there are some simple lifestyle changes that can better the odds of a successful conception. These include:

1. Reducing stress

2. Don’t smoke or use illicit drugs, especially anabolic steroids

3. Avoid contact with toxins such as pesticides and heavy metals

4. Limit how much alcohol you drink

5. Eat healthy diet and keep your weight under control

6. Keep your scrotum cool, avoid hot baths and tight pants

7. Exercise in moderation , excessive exercise could lower your testosterone and thus affect sperm count

8. Vitamin supplementation

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