What’s Behind Male-Factor Infertility?

Every year, millions of couples try to get pregnant without success. A large subset of these couples may be suffering from infertility. Infertility is often considered a female concern, but statistics say otherwise. Men are equally at risk for infertility compared to women. Most cases are due to unhealthy sperm, poor hormone levels, or a damaged reproductive system. When doctors retrace the steps, the root cause is often these 3 lifestyle-related factors.

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1. All about extreme stress

Stress is a natural part of life, but stress levels have increased significantly in recent years. For men, stress can be tough on fertility. Stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been shown to decrease hormones like luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone. Both LH and testosterone are involved in sperm production and sperm health. Men experiencing even mild psychological stress may have fertility challenges.

2. Smoking affects fertility

Most men smoke to relieve stress or for social situations. However, the dangers of smoking far outweigh the benefits. Scientists and researchers have documented the many health consequences of smoking, including infertility. Studies show that smoking damages sperm DNA. Smokers have lower sperm counts, sperm volume, and motility. Furthermore, smokers have a greater risk of miscarriages and failed IVF cycles.

3. Beware of alcohol and drug use

Men who use excess alcohol and recreational drugs significantly compromise their fertility. Excess alcohol, for instance, reduces the hormones responsible for sperm production. Alcohol also contains compounds that spike estrogen. Excess estrogen can reduce sperm production and even cause impotence. Long-term use of opiates can significantly impact sperm production and even cause permanent damage to reproductive systems.

How can men turn the tide?

Lifestyle-related causes of fertility are complicated to treat. These issues often develop from habits that are challenging to break. Removing these triggers can improve fertility over time. However, men must also get the necessary counseling to find the root cause of stress or substance abuse. After several months of removing these habits, a fertility clinic can help if there are still fertility challenges. Clinics can perform the necessary testing to find the reason for infertility. From there, treatment options like IUI and IVF can help. For improved success, men must work on removing the lifestyle-related causes first.

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