We need to talk about male infertility

male infertility and why it shouldn't be overlooked

This is a guest post by Professor Dr Geeta Nargund, Medical Director, CREATE Fertility Clinic 

Now more than ever women are becoming increasingly comfortable with discussing their fertility. But can we say the same for men?

It may come as a surprise for many that male infertility can be a contributing factor in up to 50% of cases, and the sole cause in about 30 of cases. Although it is well known that female fertility suffers an earlier and steeper decline than male fertility, there is little mention that men’s fertility also declines with age, albeit over a longer period of time.

male infertility and why it shouldn't be overlooked

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In fact, the male biological clock as a whole is simply discussed less. Possibly because the decline begins later in life and because men make sperm all their lives, so potentially remain fertile for longer – whereas women are born with a finite number of eggs. However delaying fatherhood can increase the risk of disorders such as autism or ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), and particularly after the age of 45. We must not make the mistake of thinking age is irrelevant to male fertility.

Infertility prevention

Lifestyle factors are also as important for men as they are for women. Men produce brand new sperm every 2 to 3 months, and so their lifestyle in the preceding months is incredibly important in determining the quality of sperm. High alcohol intake, smoking and poor diet can all negatively affect sperm function. Other factors include anything that contributes to an intermittent increase in scrotal temperature, such as taking hot baths, sitting at a desk or on a sofa for long periods of time. Healthy sperm is needed to make a healthy embryo and a healthy baby, so being aware of this when trying for a baby is very important.

Removing the taboo

Yet beyond the physical issues, (and potentially even more damaging) is the lack of open dialogue amongst men when it comes to discussing their understanding, fears and thoughts on male infertility especially as when compared to women. Facing the trauma of infertility can be an incredibly stressful and emotional time for those riding the roller coaster of diagnosis and treatment, and it is vital that men feel comfortable enough to discuss and deal with these complex emotions, and have the platforms or spaces to do so. As it is most often women who are undergoing fertility treatment, men risk becoming the ‘hidden half’, which belies their central role in this journey.

male infertility why it shouldn't be overlooked

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A fundamental part of the conversation

I have seen many cases where it was the man who put the pressure on to delay having children, which can often be put down to a lack of understanding of the fertility hurdles that exist for both men and women as we age. If we are to ensure that both genders are equipped to reduce the current figure of one in six couples consulting a fertility doctor, then we need to encourage a better understanding amongst men, so they can work with women to make informed decisions on when to have a baby.

I believe that fertility education should become a matter of course for young men and women, as starting these conversations early will empower the next generation with the right information to be able to make a responsible decision, and have the best possible chance of starting a healthy family when they’re ready. I have long campaigned for this to become part of secondary school curriculum, lobbying the government and speaking with cabinet ministers, as well as launching the first fertility education classes earlier this year.

Whatever your family make up, the fact is it requires a man and a woman to make a baby, and so encouraging men to sit up and take notice of their fertility is crucial in breaking the fertility taboo for all.

With thanks to Dr Geeta Nargund. 31st October-6th November is National Fertility Awareness Week.


Are you aware of the facts about male infertility? Why do you think we discuss it less than a woman’s fertility?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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14 Comment

  1. Crummy Mummy
    November 6, 2016 at 9:02 am

    This is a great post – we have some friends who suffered from this but it seems to be such a taboo subject #KCACOLS
    Crummy Mummy recently posted…The stupidest things I’ve been asked while pregnantMy Profile

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 10, 2016 at 11:51 am

      I agree, it definitely needs to be discussed more openly x

  2. Sara
    November 6, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    I agree that the lack of open discussion could be a big issue for some men – it may be a big stereotype, but men in general don’t feel as open as some women may do about talking about such a personal thing (and talking in general, for that matter). Of course, everyone’s different, but buying large I think this is a great point to bring up and talk about! Great post! #KCACOLS

  3. Sharon Parry
    November 6, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    A subject that is still so hard for men to talk about. Perhaps because they equate their fertility with masculinity? As male fertility declines in the UK this is a subject that will become even more important and I totally agree that it is something that should be discussed openly. Great post. #KCACOLS
    Sharon Parry recently posted…The last day of summer – Rest Bay surfingMy Profile

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 10, 2016 at 11:48 am

      You’re probably right about that – men always seem so proud of their ‘swimmers’! x

  4. five little doves
    November 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Great post and so true. My first husband had fertility problems and we went through a lot of treatment together. It was emotionally, and physically draining, and I truly believe that it contributed to the end of our marriage. So important to talk about this though. #KCACOLS

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 10, 2016 at 11:46 am

      That’s interesting to hear as I think there is an assumption that it’s usually the woman with the fertility problems. Thanks for sharing, and lovely to know that you got your large family in the end xx

  5. Emma me and b
    November 7, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Fantastic post and not something you read about too often – usually articles tend to focus on the woman. I think we underestimate that you need two to tango too – as in it’s up to the guy to do his bit with keeping fit and healthy too! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday!
    Emma me and b recently posted…Perfect Advent Calendar for Wine Lovers!My Profile

  6. Emma Plus Three
    November 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Such an important topic to talk about x #KCACOLS

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 10, 2016 at 11:44 am

      I agree, it’s not something we talk about enough x

  7. Madeline (This Glorious Life)
    November 7, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Really interesting post. I think it’s really important to bring more attention to issues like this. x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (This Glorious Life) recently posted…The one thing that you haveMy Profile

  8. The Mum Reviews
    November 8, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    This is really interesting and a post that could help a lot of people. Men seem to experience a feeling of stigma if they’re infertile and that stigma should be removed. #kcacols
    The Mum Reviews recently posted…Knowing the side effects of hormonal birth control could save your lifeMy Profile

    1. Natalie Mudd
      November 10, 2016 at 11:40 am

      I agree, and often it can be something really simple that doesn’t require expensive or invasive treatment x

  9. Devon Mama
    November 10, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks for this post. Such an important topic. #kcacols
    Devon Mama recently posted…Say Cheese! Should You Get Professional Baby Photos?My Profile

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