Male Fertility: Help & Advice

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What causes male infertility?

Of all couples suffering infertility, approximately half will include an element of male factor subfertility.

There are a variety of medical causes of male infertility together with a range of other factors that can have significant impact on a mans ability to father a child. These factors fall into various categories such as environmental, social, lifestyle and nutrition. All of these factors impact sperm cell quality and may result in the following:

All of the above either reduce or completely negate the chances of conception.

What are the symptoms and signs of infertility in males?

If you have not conceived within 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse you should consult your doctor. A semen analysis is relatively quick and easy to arrange and will identify the results of the standard parameters: count, motility and morphology. DNA fragmentation is not routinely measured but is commonly found in sperm where there is reduced motility or morphology, or when there are likely environmental or lifestyle factors.

Can male infertility be treated?

Reduced sperm function can often be significantly improved by making changes to your lifestyle such as regular exercise, a balanced diet and supplementation. Oxidative stress causes DNA damage (DNA fragmentation) as a result of diet and lifestyle factors. Most fertility supplements promote the use of strong antioxidants to combat oxidative stress, however the latest Cochrane review shows that there is very little improvement in pregnancy rates from taking oral antioxidants. These antioxidants can upset the delicate metabolic balance necessary for optimal sperm production. Therefore strong antioxidants could be doing more harm than good, so it is important to choose a supplement that maintains this vital balance such as Impryl.

Most medical causes of male infertility can be treated In the majority of cases; some more serious male infertility diagnoses can be treated with hormone therapy or even surgery. Advanced Reproductive Technologies (ART) have been extremely successful in helping infertile men conceive through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) or Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).

Does a man’s fertility decrease as he gets older?

On average, sperm count drops continuously from the age of 20. Having said this, sperm counts can rise and fall depending on a number of external conditions and is not the only cause of male infertility, male factor is equally likely to be the reason why a couple may be struggling to conceive as female factor. While men can remain fertile for many years longer than women, they are likely to encounter problems the older they get. Men can also experience abnormal sperm function, blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm, illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors that may contribute to male infertility. So it’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices and, if you are having difficulty conceiving speak to your doctor to carry the appropriate tests and checks.

Male infertility
couple with hands clasped nervously waiting for IVF results

What to do if you have a low sperm count?

Firstly, you should keep trying regardless. The NHS recommends you continue to have sex every 2 or 3 days. As well as this, you should look to cut down on smoking and drinking alcohol as both have been shown to reduce sperm count. Exercising regularly, being a healthy weight and ensuring you are having a balanced diet are all beneficial to the quality of your sperm. With the best will in the world, very few of us manage to maintain a healthy balanced diet, so appropriate supplementation is often necessary. Instead of taking numerous multivitamins, some of which will be strong antioxidants that may actually damage sperm quality (sperm DNA decondensation), a more balanced approach is required. It takes 3-4 months for your body to generate new healthy sperm, so be patient and give your body time to adapt. Taking a supplement such as Impryl maintains the delicate metabolic balance required for optimal sperm production. After you have made the necessary changes, a simple sperm test can help identify any improvements.

Male Infertility FAQs

Can male infertility be cured?

There are many different types of male infertility and some are curable whereas others are not. 

Erectile dysfunction - this can be physiological or psychological. It is usually curable but might require help from a therapist or with treatments and medication. 

Sperm quality - having low sperm motility, bad morphology, or DNA damage can all cause infertility. All three of these tend to be curable through supplementation and correct nutrition. Impryl has been shown to significantly improve live birth outcomes for men suffering from infertility. 

Azoospermia -  a condition where a man has no sperm present in his semen. Although it is a rare condition it is more common than you may think, with 1% of all men suffering from azoospermia. There are 3 main types: pre-testicular, testicular and post-testicular. Pre- and post-testicular azoospermia are curable whereas testicular azoospermia is most likely incurable. In some cases, advanced reproductive technologies can help to extract sperm directly from the testes and fertilise an egg through ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Sadly, in all three cases there is a chance that the condition cannot be cured.

What are the signs of healthy sperm

Colour and smell - if your semen is white/light grey in colour and odourless then it is likely healthy. Discolouration and odour are signs of an infection or other conditions such as hematospermia

Obesity - this has been shown to significantly reduce the quality and quantity of sperm. If you are at a healthy weight then your sperm is more likely to be in good condition 

You don’t smoke - smoking cigarettes is known to damage the quality and reduce the quality of sperm in men. You can find out more here

You don’t drink too much - excessive alcohol consumption can have a large effect on male fertility and result in infertility. To give your sperm the best chance of being healthy you should cut down or stop drinking when trying to conceive.

You eat a balanced diet - even if you are a healthy weight, if your diet consists of processed food which are high in saturated fats you could have unhealthy sperm. More information on how diet affects male fertility is available here.

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