Infertility isn’t all that uncommon in the United States — about 10% to 15% of couples have trouble conceiving. And the problem is generally divided equally among men and women — about one-third of men are the source of infertility, one-third of women, and the final third because of both or reasons unknown.
At Arizona Urology, our experienced team of health care providers specializes in male infertility, and we believe that education is a very important step in finding a solution.
To that end, we explore some of the facts and myths that surround male infertility.
The difference between sperm and semen
Male infertility often stems from low sperm counts, irregularly shaped sperm, or slow sperm, all of which have very little to do with a male’s ability to ejaculate.
Ejaculate is primarily made up of semen, which is a fluid produced by your seminal vesicles. Your testicles are responsible for your sperm, which is delivered to your urethra through your vas deferens where it mixes with your semen to form ejaculate.
Many men who are infertile have no issues producing semen, which means that the act of sex is no different, with or without the sperm.
Taking hormones reduces infertility?
Hormone replacement therapy to combat low testosterone will not increase your chances of conceiving — it has quite the opposite effect, in fact. Hormone replacement therapy suppresses your testicles’ natural production of sperm, which only exacerbates your infertility issues.
A weighty issue
Your sperm can be affected by your weight — in both directions. If you’re carrying too much weight, it can cause an imbalance in your hormones that lead to fertility issues. Conversely, if you’re underweight, this may affect your sperm counts as well as the function of your sperm.
Lifestyle habits and fertility
Of the many potential problems that come with excessive drinking and tobacco use, you can add male fertility issues. Both of these behaviors can lead to poorly functioning sperm, as well as lower-than-normal sperm counts.
Boxers versus briefs
For years, it was believed by many that wearing brief-type underwear can have an effect on your fertility, but there is no evidence that this holds any water. It is true that your sperm prefers a cooler environment, which is why your testicles are located outside of your warm body. However, wearing briefs likely doesn’t elevate the temperature enough to cause a problem.
Sleep and stress
When you’re not getting the sleep you need each night, it can have a widespread impact on your mental and physical health, including fertility issues. One study found that short sleep duration in men led to reduced fecundability.
In addition to sleep issues, stress can also play a role in your fertility. Researchers conducted a study to determine the link and found that men who encountered stressful life events two or more times in the previous year had more problems with sperm motility (speed) and morphology (shape) than those who didn’t.
The bottom line is that there are any number of problems that can contribute to male infertility, and the first and most important step is to come in so we can evaluate the problem. Once we identify the likely cause, we can tailor an appropriate treatment plan to improve your chances of creating the family of your dreams.
To get started, please contact one of our locations in Goodyear, Glendale, Gilbert, or Phoenix, Arizona, to set up an appointment.