Guys Have Fertility Problems Too
The chances of getting pregnant undoubtedly decrease with age for men and women. Infertility is a sensitive subject that is often centered around women, who get most of the blame. However, men have infertility at the same rates as women. For men over 40, the problems that cause fertility struggles are more frequent and troublesome. By understanding the common fertility problems and some probable causes, men over 40 can benefit from the proper treatment.
What does infertility mean for men?
Simply put, infertility is the ability to get pregnant after at least 6 months of trying to conceive. For men, sperm health is critical for a successful pregnancy. Sperm health could be classified into several categories. These 3 primary factors are sperm count, motility, and morphology. One or more unhealthy parameters can cause infertility. Aside from difficulties with impregnation, fertility problems can lead to miscarriages and developmental concerns of the child. A fertility clinic or reproductive specialist can perform tests to confirm any reproductive issues.
Look for a low sperm count
Low sperm count is one of the leading fertility problems for men, especially those over 40. A low sperm count means there are 15 million sperm per millimeter of semen or less. This figure can add up to less than 39 million sperm per ejaculate. When this happens, there is a delay in pregnancy or an inability to get pregnant. There are several medical, lifestyle, hormonal, and environmental factors that cause low sperm count. Men over 40 are more likely to be exposed to these stressors. Without addressing these factors, improving sperm count can be difficult.
The need for speed
A high sperm count is important, but sperm movement is another essential part of fertility. A lack of movement or motility is another fertility problem, affecting 1 in 5,000 men. Sperm needs to move quickly and efficiently to reach the egg in the fallopian tubes. If the sperm does not move at least 25 micrometers per second, there is low motility. Like sperm count, genetics, weight, smoking, and harmful lifestyle conditions can slow sperm down.
Sperm should also be the appropriate shape, size, and appearance known as morphology. These factors help determine the overall health of the sperm. There can be defects in 3 parts of the sperm, including the head, midsection, and tail. Each piece is essential to fertilize the eggs. If any part is damaged, infertility or congenital disabilities can happen. Conditions that affect the shape are often genetic, like acephalic sperm or headless sperm, which cannot fertilize an egg.
What causes infertility in men?
With age, men are more likely to be exposed to one or more factors that cause fertility problems. For instance, previous medical issues such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), varicoceles, erectile dysfunction, and genetically abnormal sperm can affect male infertility. Environmental factors such as overexposure to industrial chemicals and metals can harshly decline male sperm count. Lifestyle choices can also affect male fertility rates, including illegal drug use, alcohol, smoking, and obesity. Identifying these underlying causes can help doctors uncover a game plan.
Time for a fertility upgrade
Just like women, some men have decided to wait longer to become fathers. However, some men can encounter fertility problems over 40. Some effective changes include:
- Keeping things cool by lowering exposure to artificial heat treatments, such as saunas and specific spa treatments.
- Keeping things safe by watching out for sport-related injuries that may damage the testes.
- Being mindful of workplace toxins such as chemicals and paints. Wear protective clothing and breathing devices while working in environments open to toxins.
- Maintaining a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which has plenty of antioxidants to avoid DNA damage in sperm cells.
There are also medical fertility options available, known as assisted reproductive technology or ART. These include IUI, IVF, and ICSI. In severe cases, donor sperm is a viable option.
Talk to a doctor about your options
Men over 40 looking to get pregnant should consult a fertility specialist first before trying. Those who have been trying for months or years without success should also see a doctor. A series of tests can reveal one of the many fertility problems plaguing millions of men, especially those over 40. From there, the specialist can recommend several solutions to make starting a family a reality.