I watched an old episode of Gavin & Stacey last night on BBC3 in which they tackled the subject of male infertility in a light hearted way yet with sensitivity and understanding.
Stacey has been trying to get pregnant for the last 12 months without success. She persuades Gavin to go with her for tests with the doctor, and they are both surprised when the test results show that Gavin has a low sperm count.
This started me thinking about male infertility.
What is male infertility ?
Male infertility is the inability of a male to produce a pregnancy in a women. Most commonly this is due to a problem with the sperm ie a poor sperm count, poor motility or abnormal morphology of the sperm although sometimes it can be due to other causes such as structural or ejaculatory problems.
How common is male infertility ?
Depending on the source you use, male infertility seems to account for between 30-50% of cases of infertility. Ths figure is surprising to many as public perception tends to be that the problem is more likely to be with the women.
What causes male infertility ?
There are many causes of reduced fertility in men. Sperm quality is thought to be declining in the western world in recent years and this has been attributed to many factors including changing working practices for many men involving long working hours, long periods of time sat either at desks or in cars, diet, smoking, alcohol, drugs, stress.
Some medical causes of male infertility include:
- obstructive problems (blockages in sperm-carrying tubes)
- testicular injury and disease
- sperm disorders
- genetic disorders
- problems with erection and ejaculation
- hormonal problems
- general medical disorders that reduce fertility
- drugs that reduce fertility
- Environmental toxins and radiation
Other factors that may affect sperm count & quality
- Anything that causes overheating of scrotum may be a factor for some-ie overexercising, cycling, horse riding, very hot baths, saunas, laptop use, sitting at desk for long periods of time, obesity etc
- Recreational drugs such as Cannabis