Infertility is often assumed to be a “female problem.” But in fact, infertility is attributed to the male partner up to 40% of the time. Here are some of the most common questions we get from men when they come to see us for the first time.
Q: How do you identify a male infertility issue?
A: The easiest way is semen analysis. We examine sperm for concentration, shape, and motility (the ability of sperm of travel through the female reproductive tract).
Q: My semen analysis was abnormal. What should I do next?
A: Follow up with your health care provider. He or she may recommend repeating the semen analysis in a few months. If a second semen analysis is abnormal, you may be referred to a fertility specialist for further evaluation.
Q: Can alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana use affect my semen analysis?
A: Yes. Tobacco and marijuana use is a well-documented cause of abnormal semen analysis. Reducing or eliminating tobacco or marijuana use can benefit fertility. It’s less clear whether low to moderate alcohol consumption alters semen analysis. However, excessive alcohol consumption is definitely causes changes in semen analysis.
Q: How often should we have intercourse when we are trying to conceive?
A: You can achieve optimal fertility with intercourse every 1-2 days around the time of ovulation, because sperm live in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days.
Q: Do testosterone supplements affect male fertility?
A: Testosterone supplements may reduce a man’s ability to produce sperm.
Q: I have pain, swelling, or I feel a mass around my testicles. Could this be a case of infertility?
A: Pain and/or swelling could be related to dilated blood vessels around the testicles, which can lead to infertility. It’s important to see a health care provider if you are experiencing this.
Q: I have recently been diagnosed with cancer. My doctor told me that I need chemotherapy and/or radiation, which may permanently affect my sperm count. I would like to have children in the future. Is there anything I can do?
A: Yes. Sperm samples can be collected and frozen for later use in a variety of fertility treatments, such as IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization).
Q: I am in the military and will be deployed for an extended period of time. We’d like to start a family soon—is there anything I can do before being deployed?
A: Yes. You can have sperm samples collected and frozen prior to deployment that can be used later for IUI (intrauterine insemination).
Q: I had a vasectomy, but now I want more children. What can I do?
A: Vasectomy reversal or in vitro fertilization may allow you to achieve pregnancy. Consult a specialist to learn the benefits and drawbacks of each option and to determine which pregnancy is right for you. If you have further questions or concerns about these issues, it’’s best to consult a specialist in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (REI) who can address your unique situation.