How Often Do Men Struggle With Infertility?

The inability to get pregnant is not broadly discussed due to the shame and distress that comes with broaching the subject. This is especially true when the cause is male-factor infertility. Statistics show that infertility impacts 19% of American couples. What’s more alarming is that the infertility rates are evenly distributed among men and women and unexplained. In other words, male-factor infertility is a significant concern, especially for couples trying to start or grow a family. Infertility occurs when a couple trying to get pregnant is unable to do so after at least 6-12 months of consistent attempts. Addressing male-factor infertility requires a deep understanding of the causes and specific treatments.


What causes male-factor infertility?

For pregnancy to occur, sperm must successfully fertilize an egg during conception. The fertilized egg becomes an embryo, which implants in the uterus to begin the pregnancy process. Male-factor infertility occurs when sperm is unable to fertilize an egg. Most cases happen due to low or no sperm count, known as oligospermia or azoospermia. There can also be poor sperm motility, where the sperm does not travel efficiently, or poor sperm shape. Male-factor infertility can also be hormonal or physical. For instance, an underlying hormonal challenge prevents the body from producing sperm. In some cases, physical damage, injury, or a congenital abnormality prevents sperm production. The reasons for these issues are numerous, ranging from age-related to environmental and lifestyle factors.

Start with the treatment basics

If pregnancy does not occur after at least 6 months of trying naturally, this is a sign for both parties to see a medical professional immediately. A reproductive specialist can perform a full assessment to get to the root cause of the issue. In some cases, men can benefit from simple treatments or lifestyle changes. For instance, studies show weight loss, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption can significantly improve fertility. Some men may need treatment. Hormone therapy or surgical treatment of an underlying issue may be enough to reverse infertility concerns. The goal is to do a deep dive into the reasons for infertility and take action to improve sperm health as soon as possible.

The ART of fertility treatment

In many cases, initial fertility treatments may not be enough. The next step is to move on to assisted reproductive technology (ART) to improve pregnancy chances. ART is a series of medical procedures, including intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF), designed to help men conceive. With IVF, sperm and egg are combined in a laboratory to create healthy, viable embryos. The best embryo is then surgically transferred to the woman’s uterus and then monitored for pregnancy. More advanced procedures include intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a singular sperm is used to fertilize the egg. Doctors may also perform techniques like testicular sperm extraction (TESE) to acquire the sperm necessary for different ART treatments.

Men need support, too

Fertility treatment has varying success rates. The outcomes depend on multiple factors like age, sperm quality, and the clinic’s expertise. Almost all cases require numerous attempts, called cycles, before a successful pregnancy. During this time, men, too, can become anxious, stressed, frustrated, or concerned about the diagnosis and process. Family support is essential during this time. A supportive partner and community can help men feel optimistic about the chances of success. Some clinics also provide resources and therapeutic options to support the health and wellness of men. Tap into these resources as both body and mind should be ready for the journey ahead.

Get informed on infertility in men

Male-factor infertility is a growing concern among men wanting to start or grow a family. The condition can delay family planning and worsen if not addressed quickly. With men, the underlying causes are numerous, so a detailed assessment is the key to success. From there, a combination of treatments can help, with ART techniques like IVF considered the gold standard. Get informed, get help, and get treatment. From there, the road to improved fertility is easier.

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