Male infertility is responsible for approximately 20% of infertility cases and contributes to at least 50% of all infertility cases. Surprisingly, a lot of attention is given to women’s infertility, it’s causes and the plethora of treatment options. But, discussions, articles, and awareness about male infertility are hardly as frequent or widespread. Male infertility is often avoided as a subject though research shows that women are not solely responsible for difficulties in conception.
This has led to many misconceptions and myths about fertility in men which need to be debunked.
The following 13 false myths are widely believed to be true:
- Male fertility remains unaffected by age.
Studies have shown that sperm production begins to decline by the age of 40 and gets much lower after 50. Age also impacts sperm quality and men may pass on four times more genetic mutations than women.
- Frequent sex a number of days in a row can damage male fertility.
The male body restores its sperm supply within a week. So, even if you have sex frequently three or four days in a row, it won’t adversely affect your fertility. It may only result in a slightly lesser sperm count by the end of the last day.
- Abstaining from sex for long periods improves sperm counts.
Abstaining from ejaculation from more than two or three days can actually decrease your sperm quality. Instead of waiting for long periods or having intercourse every day, both of which are detrimental, you should ideally have sex every alternate day around the period of ovulation.
- All sperm in a healthy male is healthy and capable of fertilizing an egg.
Actually, only 14% of sperm possess normal size, shape, and motility in an average male. Though it looks like a low percentage, this is not a cause for concern since only a single sperm is necessary for fertilization.
- Taking testosterone can boost sperm count.
This is a big and potentially dangerous misconception as taking testosterone can actually have an opposite effect on male fertility. Your pituitary gland can stop the internal production of testosterone in your body, in turn drastically lowering your sperm count and affecting your fertility.
- Smoking doesn’t affect male fertility.
A number of studies have shown that smoking can increase chances of male infertility by 12-30%. It can affect both your sperm count and sperm quality. Tobacco use may also damage chances of successful IVF treatment in women.
- Male infertility is only caused by genetic factors.
There are several other factors that may lead to male fertility, for example, cancer, immunity issues, injuries, or repeated infections. Even lifestyle habits like poor diet or smoking can damage fertility.
- Boxers should be preferred over briefs if you are planning to have a baby.
The myth that briefs or tight-fitting pants can harm male fertility as it increases the temperature of the testes is false. Men can wear any kind of underwear they are comfortable in.
- Other chronic health problems do not impact fertility.
Chronic diseases like liver cirrhosis or diabetes can cause abnormal ejaculation and affect male fertility. They can cause retrograde ejaculation and nerve damage.
- All lubricants hinder conception.
There are some lubricants which contain a spermicide, Nonoxynol-9, and oil-based lubricants may affect sperm speed. However, not all lubricants are harmful to conception.
- There can be no way to conceive if one suffers from a low sperm count.
Treatment options are available for male infertility too. You should consult a fertility expert for the right guidance and treatment. Correcting your lifestyle, IUI, or IVF and ICSI treatment can all help with low sperm count.
- Obesity and male infertility are not linked.
Obesity has been proven to contribute to Infertility in both men and women. It can lead to low sperm count, poor quality of sperm or abnormally shaped sperm.
- You can’t suffer from infertility later on if you’ve already had a child once.
Male fertility is also affected by age, lifestyle, and other health factors. So, men may struggle with fertility later in life even if they have conceived successfully before.