Historically, when a couple was having trouble conceiving, the woman would inevitably be evaluated from head to toe. The man? He was often overlooked. But today we now know that about half the time a male factor is either the main cause, or at least a contributing cause for not getting pregnant.
Still, many men are not sure how to be properly evaluated and treated for their fertility issues. Actually, this is a problem that affects about 7% of males – which accounts for millions of men in the United States alone! You are definitely not alone.
Seeing a male infertility specialist
So what can you expect from a visit to a male infertility specialist? Actually, this is a pretty painless process. We start with a good conversation, a comprehensive physical exam, a semen analysis and blood tests. This often points the doctor in the right direction, allowing a specialized treatment plan to be made.
Many times, the problem is correctable. It could be something as simple as changing certain habits (diet, exercise, tobacco use), correcting a hormonal issue, treating an infection, or sometimes performing a surgical procedure (usually a “same-day” procedure). Even in cases when NO sperm is seen in the semen analysis (called “azoospermia”), all hope is NOT lost. Men with azoospermia have become fathers thanks to advances in our understanding of the male reproductive system and techniques in IVF (in-vitro fertilization).
Taking the first step
Take the first step and see a male infertility specialist. You won’t regret it. Until then, here are some things you can do to maximize your fertility potential:
- Eat a well-balanced diet. For example, did you know that walnuts can improve certain sperm parameters? Foods with zinc (choose the dark meat, not the white meat at Thanksgiving dinner!) are needed for the production of healthy sperm.
- Exercise. Medical studies have shown that aerobic activity and maintaining a healthy weight is beneficial.
- Avoid tobacco. This is not just a good idea for your heart and lungs, but your testicles will thank you too.
- Alcohol is OK, in moderation. If you’re consistently drinking more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day, your sperm count can drop.
- Using anabolic steroids makes most men infertile. Your muscles may get big, but your testicles will shrink and stop producing sperm.
- Avoid excess heat to your scrotum. You can do this by wearing boxers (not briefs), nixing that steam room routine, and putting your computer somewhere other than your lap.
Original post February 6 2018
Updated May 28, 2021
Updated June 15, 2022