Male fertility - Q&A with Dr. Fatin
Fertility is complex - both female and male fertility. But what is clear when it comes to male fertility is that good sperm quality improves chances for pregnancy. So how do you find out how good your sperm quality is? And can it be improved? We turn to Dr. Fatin Willendrup to sort out common questions and misunderstandings when it comes to male fertility.
1. Is it common for men to have fertility issues?
In 40% of infertility cases worldwide, male infertility is the main reason for couples not being able to conceive.
In the Western world average sperm quality has dropped by 50% in the last 40 years and 1/3 of young men have a sperm quality so low they are likely to experience problems with fertility.
2. What are the main causes?
Male fertility issues could be caused by:
- Low sperm production
- Blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm to the female tract
- Abnormal sperm function (lack of movement, inability to fertilize the egg)
And these causes can in turn have several reasons like injuries and infections as well as lifestyle factors.
3. What can I do to identify issues, do I need to go to a clinic?
I advise you to see a doctor if you have been unable to conceive a child after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse. If you have any of the below symptoms and conditions, you need to consult your doctor sooner:
- Semen analysis revealing low semen quality
- Erection or ejaculation problems, low sex drive, or other problems with sexual function
- Pain, discomfort, a lump, or swelling in the testicle area
- A history of testicle, prostate, or sexual problems
- A groin, testicle, penis, or scrotum surgery
And if you want to be proactive before starting to try for a baby - to exclude risk factors and/or be able to optimize sperm health - there is no reason not to take a test earlier. You can't know how good your sperm quality is just by looking at your ejaculation. A sperm test is the only way you can evaluate sperm quality and get a real idea of your fertility status.
4. How can I improve my sperm health and optimize fertility?
It’s important to focus on scientifically proven lifestyle changes that increases sperm quality. Weight management, exercise, nutrition, antioxidants intake and excluding toxins like smoking are top priorities both for men and women when trying for a baby. For men we have identified the following 10 things you can do:
- Eat more superfoods
- Start exercising
- Kick your smoking habit
- Limit your alcohol
- Relax and think positive
- Take fertility supplements
- Antioxidants multivitamin supplements
- Omega-3 Fatty acids
- Test and track your sperm quality
- Keep your genitals cool
- Have sex at the right time
5. What support is available for men
For men who need emotional support on the road to fatherhood, it can sometimes feel incredibly lonely. But there are some organisations trying to change that. The support is out there – you just need to know where to look for it. Here are just a few of the ways you can find the support you need – in a way that feels comfortable for you.
- Your partner, friends and family
- Online Support Groups
- Tilly's app: Tilly: Fertility & IVF support
About Dr. Fatin
Dr. Fatin Willendrup is a Medical Doctor with key skills in communication of medicine and problem-solving. Fatin's passion is preventive work within fertility and helping people to live healthier lives and improve fertility potential. Fatin has two children that were conceived through IVF and a third child via natural conception, so her own journey inspires her work.
More fertility facts in Tilly’s app
Tilly’s app guides you through the fertility journey - facts and tools for both your body and mental challenges.
What to expect during the different stages of IVF
How to support a friend going through infertility
IVF stimulation - How to choose a protocol
How I processed my feelings about using an egg donor
8 ways to get through a difficult day with infertility
Struggling with infertility? An interview about the need for support with psychologist Anders Möller