What is male infertility?
Male infertility affects around half of all infertile couples. The most common causes include lifestyle factors, problems with sperm production, movement or shape, sperm antibodies, chromsome and DNA abnormalities, hormonal problems or erectile and ejcaulation difficulties. Forunately most causes are readily diagnosed and most can be treated or overcome to help a couple conceive.
Try the male fertility predictor
There are a number of ways that men can improve the quality of their sperm to help achieve a successful pregnancy with their partner. The lifecycle of sperm is only 72 days so with a few lifestyle changes many men can improve the quality of their sperm within just a few months. Use the Male Fertility Predictor now for an indication of your sperm quality, and then read the tips below for some simple ways to improve your fertility…
Tips to improve the quality of your sperm
A few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle could help improve your overall health and fertility.
Active and passive smoking harms sexual and reproductive health in both men and women. For men it can damage sperm DNA and increase the chances of miscarriage and likelihood of childhood cancers.
Limit alcohol intake
Daily consumption of alcohol and binge drinking is known to affect your fertility. Try and follow the rule of ‘everything in moderation’.
Maintain a healthy weight
Having a high or low BMI can affect sperm concentration and count. If you are overweight, try to reduce your weight as obesity can be linked to infertility. Even a small reduction in weight can make a difference.
Sperm quality is reduced when men are too sedentary. Sitting on testicles for hour’s everyday can cause them to overheat and halt sperm production. Regular exercise will also help to maintain a healthy weight.
Stop Recreational Drugs and Steroids
Recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine can decrease sperm quantity and increase the number of abnormal sperm while steroid abuse can result in shrunken testicles and halt sperm production.
Have frequent sex (or at least frequent ejaculation)
Sperm does not become more potent if a man abstains from sex or ejaculation in fact it is the opposite. Ejaculate or have regular sex 2 – 3 times per week so sperm is not stored for too long in the testicles where it can be damaged.
Eat a healthy diet
Men should eat a balanced diet - try to include more fresh vegetables, fruit and lean meat. Foods particularly rich in antioxidants help improve sperm health such as berries, pumpkin seeds, colourful leafy vegetables and you could consider multivitamin supplements such as Vitamin C and E which are known for their antioxidant qualities.
Common myths about Sperm…
Men that wear lycra and tight jeans harm their sperm. False - in fact they are no more likely to have sperm production issues.
Too many saunas, working in high temperature environments (e.g. steel smelts), or sitting in cramped conditions for hours on end (e.g. truck drivers) can affect your sperm count. True - sperm like to be kept a few degrees cooler than the average body temperature of 37C
Acute viral illness, trauma, or a childhood operation for undescended testes or hernias of the groin can have a significant detrimental affect on sperm health. True - it’s important to be aware of previous medical conditions that might affect sperm health.
Being hit in the groin during sports will affect your ability to have children. False - while painful, it can only really have an impact on your fertility if it’s extremely severe
Age doesn’t affect a man’s fertility. False - Men’s reproductive health is also affected by age. After 40, a greater number of DNA abnormalities occur in sperm.
If you’ve been a father once you can do it again. False - just because you’ve fathered a child previously, isn’t a guarantee of future fertility as the quality of your sperm may have changed since.
Mens sperm only survives an hour after ejaculation. False - sperm can survive for several days in a womans body.
What's involved in a Semen Analysis?
If you are having trouble conceiving, a Semen analysis is a relatively simple test which can be used to evaluate a male’s fertility.
Step 1: Test request form
Ask your GP or Fertility Specialist to refer you for a semen analysis test and book an appointment.
Step 2: Produce a semen sample
You will be required to produce a semen sample by masturbation, after at least three days abstinence from sexual activity. You should collect the entire ejaculated amount in a clean, dry container (provided by your Specialist or GP) and bring it to your appointment (within an hour of collection). If you prefer, you can produce the sample in a private room at one of our clinics.
Step 3: Semen analysis in a laboratory
Our Andrology scientists then assess the semen. They analyse and measure the number of sperm, their ability to move, their size and shape, and the volume and consistency of the ejaculated sample.
A normal sperm count is at least 15 million sperm per ml, with at least a third showing good forward motility. If they find abnormalities, they usually do more tests to identify the nature and degree of any problems.
Step 4: Explanation of your results
Your Fertility Specialist or GP will then explain your test results to you. The good news is that sperm have a lifecycle of around 72 days, so if your results indicate that there may be problems with your sperm, you may be able to improve this with diet and lifestyle changes. There are also treatments available that can allow you to still conceive if you have a low sperm count, poor sperm movement, or high numbers of abnormally shaped sperm.
Male Fertility Treatments
Outside of the diet and lifestyle change there are not many treatments that can improve the quality of the sperm themselves but there are treatments available to make the best use of the sperm you do have to achieve a pregnancy. Today we can literally produce a pregnancy from a single sperm using Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
For men with severely reduced levels of sperm morphology or with mid-high range DNA fragmentation, Digital High Magnification is an advanced technique mastered by IVFAustralia which enables scientists to enlarge the images of sperm and select sperm most likely to produce a viable pregnancy. This technique offers couples significant increases in fertilisation and pregnancy rates.
Today with changing relationships and families many men in a second relationship are dealing with the issue of vasectomy – and the question to reverse or not? Fertility specialists are best placed to discuss your options – a full vasectomy reversal is not the only option. Even though you have had a vasectomy you are still producing sperm, so a more common option is for the sperm to be collected in a simple day hospital procedure and then used to fertilise your partners’ eggs via fertility treatment.