On Your Health

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Myths About Men and Fertility

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine defines infertility as the inability to achieve pregnancy following 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. It’s been estimated that up to 15 percent of all couples attempting to have children face some form of infertility. To mark National Infertility Awareness Week, we’re talking about male infertility to debunk some common myths and reinforce some true facts.

Myth or Fact: Age doesn’t affect male fertility

Fact: The quality of men’s sperm does decreases with age. While women’s age is very important for fertility and is talked about the most, men’s age also matters. The average time to pregnancy if a man is under 25 is just over four and a half months but nearly two years if a man is over 40. There is a five-fold increase in the time it takes to get pregnant if the man is over 45.

Myth or Fact: Male infertility is genetic

Fact: Male infertility is not passed down genetically. However, there can be some hereditary conditions that may cause infertility. These conditions are chromosomal conditions that may affect sperm production like Klinefelter’s syndrome, Y chromosome deletions and other genetic problems, such as Down syndrome.

Myth or Fact: Smoking and alcohol affect fertility

Fact: There is strong evidence that smoking unfavorably affects male fertility. Cigarette smokers tend to have lower semen volumes, sperm counts and percentage of motile sperm.

As far as alcohol and fertility, if the male partner consumes more than 20 units of alcohol per week it may take longer for his partner to conceive.

men cycling

Myth or Fact: Cycling and men’s fertility

Fact: There is no strong data to support the idea that cycling is bad for fertility. One study conducted with extreme variables like logging two plus hours a day on rocky terrain with narrow bike seats found that men who cycle may experience more infertility than others. However, for a normal cyclist with a regular bike seat, cycling is perfectly fine.

Myth or Fact: Hot tubs and saunas affect fertility

Fact: Actually, there is truth to this myth. Exposure to high temperatures, like in hot tubs, hot baths or saunas can cause the temperature of the testes to become too hot. This can kill sperm and lower sperm count. However, this effect is only temporary, and counts will go back to normal once the hot tub is avoided.

Myth or Fact: Briefs should be avoided

Fact: There is no scientific evidence that briefs can cause infertility in men. The theory that fuels this myth is the concern that briefs can squeeze genitals or cause the scrotal temperature to become too hot. It’s okay to wear whatever is comfortable.

Myth or Fact: Heat from laptops can cause damage

Fact: Heat from your laptop, unfortunately, has been shown to damage sperm count, according to Fertility and Sterility Journal. In addition, if your laptop has a wireless connection turned on, it may cause DNA damage and less motility in sperm. Just to be safe when trying to conceive, keep the laptop on a table or desk.

Myth or Fact: Stress and fertility

Fact: Being overwhelmed with stress and not taking care of yourself can affect sperm quality. Stress in men can cause the release of glucocorticoids — steroid hormones that affect the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins — which could reduce testosterone levels and sperm production. Infertility can be stressful, so try managing your stress by relaxing or participating in activities that you enjoy.

Among these myths and facts, there are other factors that can contribute to infertility in men and leave couples with fertility concerns. The fertility specialists at The INTEGRIS Health Bennett Fertility Institute can help you find the root of infertility.

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