It takes two to make a baby. Woman and man. Egg and sperm. Yet most of the responsibility for conceiving seems to fall on women’s shoulders, largely because research into fertility has focused predominantly on the female reproductive system, causing women to rightly, and with good cause, learn about egg quantity and quality, the effect of age on one’s egg count, overall reproductive health and hormone levels. But there is another half of the reproductive equation here—the male sperm. New research has begun to shed light on the health of male sperm, examining low sperm counts and its causes, opening up a much-needed discussion about male reproductive health. When one out of eight couples are experiencing infertility, it’s important to factor in all aspects of the reproductive equation, including the health and viability of sperm. To that end, the new research studies indicate several important, somewhat alarming facts about male sperm health and the media is paying attention. While we’ve covered sperm health on this blog in the past, today we’re focusing on a Newsweek cover story from September, “Male Infertility Crisis in U.S. Has Experts Baffled.”
Here, the author provides an in-depth look at the new research findings and factors contributing to the decline of male sperm health. It’s interesting to note that of couples experiencing infertility, 40% of cases are due to male infertility. Low sperm count and poor male reproductive health in general has several causes, including obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, exposure to toxins such as endocrine disrupters in plastics, smoking and drug use (with the opioid crisis in the U.S. this is a large problem). It is also a myth that men do not have to worry about or consider age when wanting to have children. In light of new research studies, men who have children when they are over 40 have a greater risk of having babies prone to autism and schizophrenia. All of these factors make it crucial for the reproductive health community to focus attention on men and begin to educate them and encourage them to take charge of their reproductive health in the same way that women have done. Reluctance to do so may be due to the fact that men are reluctant to admit to vulnerabilities when it concerns virility and the ability to procreate, but this attitude is doing a huge disservice to those hoping to have children.
There are all sorts of ways men can begin to gain some control over, and knowledge about, their reproductive health from lifestyle changes in diet and exercise to knowing one’s sperm count through such new devices as Trek, which the Newsweek article mentions. Trek is a home device, which measures sperm count, and it’s a way to bypass the unsettling, uncomfortable experience of visiting a doctor’s office and/or fertility clinic to submit to a test.
As always at Hanabusa IVF, we take a holistic approach to infertility, making sure to pay specific and personal attention to both partners. Our aim in writing blogs such as this is to inform our patients about the multifactorial causes of infertility. We keep abreast of new research studies on both female and male fertility and look for ways to incorporate the new findings into our practice. You can read the full Newsweek article, along with our previous blog posts covering sperm health, below: