Lynne Chapman Reproductive Health Clinic: Knowing the ins and outs of male fertility

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If you’re planning to father a child, then it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that fertility is a 50-50 deal: half egg, half sperm.

But for many people, the process of trying for a baby is never a done-deal.


Read what UK clinical leader, Reproductive Consultant and fertility expert Dr Lynne Chapman has to say about male fertility and what may or may not be contributing to the challenge of having a child.

Lynne has more than 20 years of experience in evidence-based gynaecology, reproductive medicine and assisted conception and offers clients an altogether more caring and personalised approach to care.


Let’s talk about male fertility

If you are concerned about your fertility or having trouble conceiving, you are not alone. Infertility affects around 1 in 6 couples in the UK, and contrary to popular belief, infertility is not just a female issue. In fact, male infertility accounts for around half of all cases of infertility and affects 7% of the male population.

It may be prominent, but stigma around male infertility means that many men are suffering in silence. Channel 4’s recent programme – Celebrity Save My Sperm – shed some light on the prevalence of male fertility problems and brought it to the attention of men across the country. The programme aimed to debunk the social and cultural taboos surrounding male infertility and to encourage men to talk about fertility more openly.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some statistics, some common causes of male infertility, and what you can do if you are worried about being able to conceive.

How common is male infertility?

An estimated 7% of all men are affected by infertility, and the rate of male infertility is on the rise. Over the past 50 years, sperm counts worldwide have more than halved, and sperm quality has declined rapidly. Back in 1973, every millilitre of ejaculate contained an average 104 million sperm, compared to just 49 million now.

Low sperm count and poor sperm quality are the main causes of male infertility but these in turn can be caused by a wide range of factors.


Causes of male infertility

Infertility can be caused by many different things, including medical, lifestyle and age-related factors.

Here are some of the most common causes of male infertility:

- Poor quality sperm
- Infections in the genital or urinary tract
- Testicular damage
- Varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum)
- Testicular overheating
- Ejaculation problems
- Hormonal imbalances
- Medical conditions
- Medication
- Smoking
- Poor diet
- High BMI
- Lack of exercise or excessive exercise
- Alcohol and illegal drugs (especially illegal steroids)
- Age
- Stress
- Toxic pollutants

In many cases, there are steps you can take to overcome low sperm count and improve your sperm quality. For example, varicocele can often be fixed with surgery, and healthy changes can be made to your lifestyle to improve your chances of conceiving.

Symptoms of male infertility

While the primary symptom of male infertility is the inability to conceive, there are some associated signs and symptoms to look out for too.

These include:

- Difficulty ejaculating
- Reduced libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Testicular pain or swelling
- Gynecomastia (the overdevelopment of breast tissue)
- Decreased body or facial hair
- Low sperm count (less than 39 million per ejaculation)

If you are concerned about your fertility, then a good starting point is to get a fertility check.


How do male fertility tests work?

Our male fertility testing includes a series of simple tests to give you a full understanding of your reproductive health.

The tests include:

- Semen Analysis
- Semen Culture test
- DNA Fragmentation
- Reproductive hormone profiling

As part of the semen analysis, you will be asked to provide a semen sample, which is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The analysis examines sperm count (number of sperm per ml), morphology (size and shape) and motility (ability to swim in a straight line).

The semen culture test checks for the presence of infection in your testes and / or urinary tract. This can be done from the same sample produced for the semen analysis.

The DNA fragmentation test checks the DNA held inside the sperm for damage, while the reproductive hormone profiling checks the levels of various other hormones responsible for reproduction, such as testosterone, FSH, LH and prolactin.


What happens next?

Once all of your tests have been carried out, you will attend a consultation with a fertility specialist. They will discuss your test results and advise you on any lifestyle changes that may be required to improve your health and your fertility.

Should you wish to, the specialist will also discuss your options regarding sperm freezing, IVF, and any future assistance that may be needed to help you conceive.

At LCRH, our friendly team will support you throughout the entire process, ensuring that you feel informed and supported every step of the way.


What can men do to increase their fertility?

As Celebrity Save Our Sperm showed, there are often steps you can take to improve your fertility, depending on what’s causing your low sperm count or poor sperm quality.

Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make:

- Eat a healthier, more balanced diet, avoiding highly processed or sugary foods
- Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink each day
- Quit smoking
- Exercise more frequently
- Avoid hot baths, saunas, and hot tubs, as these can cause testicular overheating
- Assess any medication, supplements or hair-loss treatments you are on and speak to your healthcare provider about its impact on fertility

As part of your fertility profiling at LCRH, we will take a look at your current lifestyle and recommend adjustments that could help to improve your fertility.


Get in touch to learn more about fertility profiling at LCRH

If you would like to learn more about male fertility testing, please do not hesitate to contact the team at LCRH to make an appointment. We are more than happy to answer any questions you have about fertility and guide you on your journey to give you the best possible chance of conceiving.

If you are at the start and thinking about your fertility journey, with lots of questions. LCRH are holding Fertility cafes with the first one on Friday 15 March in Tunbridge Wells. The team of clinical experts will be available to offer advice on a range of treatments; from IVF to IUI, as well as using donor eggs and sperm, fertility tests, egg freezing and more.

LCRH Fertility Cafés are a fantastic opportunity for anyone exploring fertility treatments, including same sex couples, and those within the LGBTQ+ community, single women, and heterosexual couples. If you would like to attend or find out more, click here or call 0203 773 5311.

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