We spend a lot of time talking about women’s fertility and the factors that affect female reproductive systems, but male fertility is an equally important conversation.
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s essential to understand both male and female fertility, with approximately 30% of fertility problems originating in men. One in six Australian couples experience issues with fertility during their life.
With Men’s Health Week approaching, from 13-19 June, we think it’s a great time to talk about the factors that influence male fertility.
Men have a biological clock too
In our society we’re made to think that women are the only ones whose ‘clock’ is ticking. Despite the fact that men in their 80s are known to conceive babies, men’s clocks are ticking too.
There isn’t a specific cut-off time for men, but their fertility does start to reduce and sperm quality decreases when they reach around 40 to 45 years old.
Smoking harms male fertility
Men who smoke tobacco may have a lower sperm count and can take longer to conceive than non-smokers.
Second-hand smoke is also damaging and can affect men’s sperm quality. Smoking affects the DNA in sperm and hormone production.
STDs cause fertility problems in men
Although avoidable, STDs are a major cause of fertility problems in men. If sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia go undiagnosed, infections and inflammation can damage sperm.
Hot temperatures may affect male fertility
Hot temperatures can affect a man’s sperm count. Spending time in saunas, spas, long hot baths, continually resting a laptop on the groin area or working in hot temperatures increases testicular temperature and can cause abnormal sperm count and quality.
What he eats affects his sperm
To keep sperm healthy, it’s best to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eating foods high in fat or foods which are highly processed can lead to obesity and affect sperm health.
Zinc (found in shellfish, chicken, eggs and legumes), folate (in spinach, kale and lettuce) and selenium (brazil nuts) are beneficial to sperm health.
Other factors that impact male fertility:
It’s not always easy to diagnose infertility in men as it has many causes. To diagnose male infertility, men may require a physical examination, blood test, ultrasound scans, testicular biopsy or semen analysis.
If you or your partner have been trying to fall pregnant for more than 12 months, or six months if you are over 35 years of age, it’s time to seek advice.
At Grace Private our fertility specialists, Dr Tina Fleming and Dr Tania Widmer, have helped women and couples of all ages fall pregnant. We partner with Monash IVF for fertility treatments with several Monash fertility nurses working from Grace to support you through your fertility journey. For a referral, ask for ‘Grace’ next time you visit your GP.