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Top Male Fertility Myths and Facts

When it comes to male fertility – it’s important to get your head around the facts. But with so many myths out there and the whole internet heaving with contradictory information, sometimes it’s tough to separate fact from fiction. Here we bust some of the most common male fertility myths – and give you the info you can trust.

Male Fertility Myth #1: Fertility Struggles Usually Come Down To The Woman

 

Male Fertility Fact:

This is definitely not true – and one myth we really need to bust.
For too long, it has been assumed that fertility struggles –  from finding it hard to conceive to recurrent miscarriage – are largely down to female factors. The fact is, that when it comes to infertility, it is fairly evenly split between male and female issues. For couples experiencing infertility, research indicates that around 40% of cases are down to male factors, 40% are due to female factors and 20% are a combination of both partners.
The narrative that infertility generally only impacts women puts unfair pressure on our female partners, which is something we need to challenge. It is also one reason why there is such a lack of research and support around male infertility – and why men often feel sidelined and overlooked during their fertility journey. If you are trying for a baby with a partner, it’s important to start this journey together from the very start and remember that your individual fertility is equally important. Testing at the same time and making lifestyle changes together will not only give you the best chance at conceiving, but will also strengthen your partnership.

Male Fertility Myth #2: A Man’s Age Has No Impact On His Fertility

 

Male Fertility Fact:

It’s easy to see why this myth is believed by so many – it is certainly possible for men to have children much later in their life compared to women. Whilst women have a finite number of eggs that declines with age – and menopause gives a clear ‘end point’ to their baby-making years – men can have many children much later. In 2012 Ramjit Raghav became the world’s oldest father at 94! However, just because it is possible, doesn’t mean it’s common – and it also doesn’t mean that age has no impact on male fertility.
On the contrary, just like female fertility, male fertility reduces with age – albeit more gradually. As men get older, their testosterone levels decline, which can have a knock on effect on sperm production. Even if you are still producing enough sperm to get your partner pregnant – the quality of the sperm may be poor. You may find that the sperm morphology and motility are sub-optimal and the sperm cells are also more at risk of DNA Fragmentation. These issues can not only make it harder to conceive, but they can also lead to a high risk of birth defects.
If you are looking to conceive later in life, it’s a good idea to get your sperm analysed for motility, count and morphology, using our at-home Exseed sperm test. It’s also worth investigating DNA Fragmentation, as this can be more common with age – Examen Lab is a great company that specialises in this.

Male Fertility Myth #3: Certain Sexual Positions Can Improve Your Chances of Conceiving

 

Male Fertility Fact:

This is a male fertility myth that gets a lot of air time. When you start trying for a baby, you’ll find endless blogs on the ‘best sex to conceive’. You might even hear stories from people who claim that certain positions not only helped them get pregnant but even influenced the gender of their baby! Whilst it can be fun to try out a bunch of new positions when trying to conceive, the fact is that it doesn’t really matter how you do it – as long as you’re doing it! Healthy sperm are pretty fast movers and will make their way to the cervix in seconds and the fallopian tubes – regardless of the position you’re in.
Instead of positions, you want to focus on the regularity and timing of your sex life. Regular ejaculation can actually help to improve your sperm health as sperm left in the testicles for too long can become damaged. It’s recommended to have sex every other day when trying to conceive and then at least once a day during your partner’s fertile window (the few days surrounding ovulation). 

Male Fertility Myth #4: The More Semen You Have – The More Fertile You Are

 

Male Fertility Fact:

This is a bit of a complex myth to bust – because there is a slice of truth in it. Low semen volume can be an indication of a few issues that can make conceiving harder. It could be a symptom of retrograde ejaculation – a condition where the semen goes into your bladder rather than out your penis when you orgasm. It might also be a sign of low testosterone, which can have a negative effect on sperm production. The WHO recommends that the optimal semen volume range starts at around 1.5ml, so if you are concerned that you’re not producing enough, definitely reach out to your doctor.

That said – it’s important to remember that lots of semen doesn’t necessarily equal high fertility. You may have a high semen volume, but if the sperm cells inside are slow, damaged or abnormally shaped – it can lead to issues with fertility. You might even have an optimal semen volume with absolutely no sperm inside it – known as azoospermia. It’s really important not to judge your semen by its cover (so to speak). We can’t see sperm quality with the naked eye, so getting your sperm tested and analysed is the best way to understand your fertility.

Male Fertility Myth #5: Testosterone Supplementation Can Help You Get Pregnant

 

Male Fertility Fact:

It’s easy to see why men may think this is true – testosterone is important for sperm production and fertility, so surely more of it is not a bad thing? Wrong.
It’s true that low testosterone levels can make getting pregnant harder, but testosterone supplementation can actually inhibit your body’s natural production of the hormone and throw everything off balance. This also goes for steroids – synthetic hormones that some men take to increase strength and muscle mass.
If you are struggling with low testosterone and want to conceive in the near future you should always let your doctor know your plans as they will be able to prescribe medication that can help, not hinder, your chances of conceiving. You could also always try natural testosterone boosters like increasing your exercise levels, lifting weights, and eating foods that are high in protein, magnesium, and zinc. You can also take supplements to support healthy conception – supplementation has actually been found to increase the chance of pregnancy in infertile men by 197%.

There is a lot of misinformation out there guys, but remember – if in doubt check in with healthcare professionals and not just Dr Google. The ExSeed app allows you to speak directly to experts after your sperm test – which means you’ve got guidance you can trust in the palm of your hand, for the next stage of your fertility journey.

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.

Stress

Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.

Nutrition

Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Vegetables
Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.

Heat

Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.

BMI

There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  

Alcohol

A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.

Age

Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.