Infertility among men is more common than you might think. While we read and hear an awful lot about female infertility and its causes and treatments, we don’t hear nearly as much about male infertility. This lack of discussion has led to the rise of some fairly serious myths about male infertility.
Here is a look at the most common male infertility myths, as well as the truth about them:
- Male infertility doesn’t exist. As a culture, we often perceive fertility as a woman’s problem. After all, it’s the woman who carries the baby and whose timing is essential when it comes to conception. In many cases, a couple’s ability to conceive has nothing to do with the female partner. Male infertility is responsible about one third of the time, while one third of the time female infertility is responsible. In the remaining third of cases, infertility is unexplained.
- Wearing briefs can negatively impact a man’s fertility. The theory that male infertility can be caused by wearing briefs comes from a misunderstanding about one of the legitimate causes of male infertility. Studies have shown that prolonged exposure of the testicles to high heat can affect sperm production and quality. Other studies have shown that briefs do not have a negative effect on sperm counts. However, the heat generated by wearing briefs isn’t significant enough to have an impact. Soaking all day in a hot tub might cause fertility trouble for a man, but wearing boxers instead of briefs isn’t going to help.
- Men are fertile throughout their entire lives. While it is technically true that men well into their 70s have fathered children, most men experience a decrease in fertility at around the age of 35. Though men continue to produce sperm, decreasing testosterone levels mean they create less and less sperm as they age. In addition, older men’s sperm tends to be abnormal, causing potential for genetic problems and making it harder for the sperm to fertilize an egg.
- Having sex too many days in a row will affect your fertility. A man’s body replenishes its sperm supply in about a week. If you ejaculate every day for a week, there’s a chance that by the last day or so your sperm count will be down slightly. Overall, however, having sex every day for four or five days – such as when your partner is ovulating – won’t result in a lower sperm count.
- Lubricants always interfere with the sperm’s journey. While it’s true that many lubricants contain Nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide) and that oil-based lubricants can slow down the sperm traveling to its destination, not all lubricants are bad for conception. There are even specialty lubricants designed with conception in mind that can give the sperm a little extra push, helping it get to where it needs to be.
If you and your partner are struggling with infertility, it’s important to get your facts straight. Identify legitimate potential causes of infertility and address them in order to increase your chances of conception.