It’s been months since you started trying to get pregnant and so far, your period has come like clockwork every time. Believe it or not, that’s good news. A regular period is a good sign in terms of female fertility because it usually means you are ovulating.
Unfortunately, many women automatically jump to the conclusion that something is wrong with them. And, also unfortunately, society sort of backs that up because the public seems to jump to the conclusion that it’s the woman who can’t get pregnant. This 18th-century mentality is outdated.
Male Factor Infertility is Just as Likely to Be the Cause
When it comes to couples and infertility – infertility factors are equal. According to ASRM, the reasons 11% to 12% of American couples can’t get pregnant are evenly shared between men and women, and the male is the sole or contributing cause of infertility in 40% to 50% of couples with infertility issues.
In other words, if you’re trying to get pregnant – it is not the woman’s responsibility to figure out what’s “wrong.” Rather, the two of you should take it on as a shared challenge, and begin working together to figure out a solution. If age isn’t an issue (you are 35-years old or younger), there’s no need to seek the help of a fertility specialist just yet. You have time to work on fertility factors that might be an issue – and that typically means improving your diet and lifestyle.
Most Common Cause of Male Infertility
There are four factors that are the most likely source of male infertility and these are all referred to as productive male factor problems:
- Low sperm count (oligospermia)
- No sperm count at all (azoospermia)
- Poor sperm motility (asthenospermia)
- Poor sperm morphology (the sperm are misshaped)
There is also a chance that some type of anatomical feature – either genetic or the result of a childhood infection or surgery – is preventing the sperm from being ejaculated. These obstructive types of male infertility factor are the least common but will be evaluated should you need to visit a fertility specialist.
There are things you can do to help improve sperm health, assuming the causes are not congenital (inherited).
Do What You Can to Improve Sperm Health
If you are trying to have a baby, the following steps can help you improve sperm health.
Quit smoking and doing drugs. There is no doubt about it. Smoking and recreational drugs have a negative effect on sperm quality. You can cite people in your family who smoked and/or did drugs and had lots of children – but keep in mind that if a man has a predisposition for lower sperm count or other sperm productivity issues, smoking and drug use will make those worse. Plus, let’s face it, smoking and drug addiction are both bad habits that should be kicked prior to becoming a parent anyway, so consider this your wake-up call.
Lose weight. 12% of all female infertility is linked to a woman weighing too little or too much. Weight affects our bodies reproductive hormone function, and men are not immune to this either. Countless studies have linked male obesity and sperm productive factors. Obese men have higher-rates of low sperm count and sluggish sperm. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help boost both of those back up into the normal range.
Avoid pesticides and herbicides. The Organic label is great, but you can also look for “pesticide/herbicide-free” labels on produce and other food products. There are studies that link pesticide use to both decreased sperm productivity as well as erectile dysfunction. As long as you’re working on eating a healthier diet, focus on foods that are grown without the use of potentially harmful chemicals to give your body the best chance at making copious amounts of healthy sperms.
Review current medications. Review your list of current medications with your practitioner and see if any are linked to sperm issues. Your doctor may be able to work with you for the time being, lowering doses or switching medications until you get pregnant, to increase your chances of fertility.
Talk to your doctor about supplementation. There are certain supplements that seem to benefit sperm factor fertility, including antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E, zinc and selenium, and the amino acids L-arginine (found in nuts, eggs, and meat) and L-carnitine (found in red meat and dairy). Increase consumption of food products containing these nutrients. And talk to your doctor about temporary supplementation while you’re trying to boost sperm count.
The bottom line is that infertility is not just a woman’s problem. It should be tackled as a team, with both the female- and male-halves of the equation working to get pregnant together.
Are you looking for an OB/GYN in the Bellevue area who can help you navigate the early-stages of infertility? Contact Overlake and schedule an appointment. (425) 454-3366.
image: sciencefreak at pixabay