The world, in general, does not seem to recognize men also have fertility issues but they do and just as much as women! Male infertility is an issue too.
One in every eight couples in the USA has infertility. Many of these couples will find their way to a fertility specialist. In the USA there are fertility clinics in every major city and seeing a fertility specialist is relatively easy
In developing countries, the number of couples struggling with infertility is higher. Where I work in the Caribbean, we think that at least one in every six couples wanting a baby has infertility. In less wealthy areas of developed countries, and certainly, in developing countries, there are fewer fertility clinics.
It can often be harder to get the advice of a fertility specialist. Yet, people here have even more reasons to see a fertility specialist.
People living in less wealthy areas have poorer access to primary care and preventative medicine. They also see doctors less often. They often don’t act on small fertility issues early on and thus run the risk that the problem will become much worse with time.
Wherever you live, getting expert advice from a fertility specialist is important not just for getting pregnant, but also for avoiding problems in your pregnancy and reducing the chances of losing your baby.
Male Infertility- Why Men Don’t Think About It
If you are reading this and you have infertility, then you are not alone. You are also likely to be female. Men do not read health information online very often. In fact, 99% of the readers of infertility blogs are women.
Maybe this is because women are more pro-active than men and tend to look for information on their problems and start working on solutions. Or maybe it’s because a lot of men do not believe that infertility is their problem. But this is simply not true.
Infertility has Always been Thought of as a Woman’s Problem
Far too often it is assumed that infertility is the woman’s fault. As with parenting, fertility and pregnancy are seen as a women’s business. It’s unfair and maybe even offensive, but what’s more important is that it has consequences for your ability to have the baby you may very much want.
I’ll tell you why. If we assume that infertility is the woman’s ‘fault’ the result is that men receive inadequate testing or no assessment at all. And if the man is not tested, you may never find the real reason for your infertility.
This is the reality: Around the world, fertility doctors have actually found that a woman’s problems are at the root of infertility in only 30% of the patients they see. In another 30% of patients, men’s issues are the sole cause of infertility. And here is the surprising fact, another 30% of couples BOTH the man and the woman have a problem (for the last ten percent, we cannot find a cause for infertility).
Statistics can be confusing so let me explain what that means. Put simply, the cause of infertility will be on the man’s side at least 60% of the time, if not more.
These statistics vary around the world. In the Caribbean, our data has shown that men are even more of the problem! In fact, here they are the number one cause of infertility.
Male Infertility Requires A Doctor Too
As a woman, if you just see your OBGYN, you often end up being the only one who is tested. Your man gets forgotten. A lot of the time you will be treated with fertility tablets to grow your eggs. Great if this is your only problem. Not so great if your guy is part of the problem!
A fertility specialist or a doctor who has spent many extra years being trained in just infertility problems has a very different approach. There are many good reasons to see a fertility specialist, and one of the very important ones is that they know about BOTH men and women.
Fertility doctors know the causes of infertility. They understand the statistics showing that there’s often more than one cause to be found—that infertility can occur in men, in women and in both. They look at the whole picture, examining you as a couple. And that means they are more likely to diagnose the cause of your infertility correctly.
I know that when I find a cause of infertility in one of my female patients, it’s no time to slack off! I’m going to do my very best to make sure her partner is tested too!
The Causes of Infertility can be Complex
Another good reason to see a fertility expert is that they can interpret your test results correctly. I’ll let you into a huge surprise. A normal sperm test does not mean there is no male infertility. At a minimum, two sperm tests at least four weeks apart are essential to know the basics about a man’s sperm production.
But even two sperm tests might miss a male cause for infertility. Sperm tests often miss erectile dysfunction. They can also miss sperm quality issues where the man’s DNA or the genetics inside the sperm’s head are damaged. Sperm tests can actually miss many things that can cause infertility or miscarriages.
A fertility doctor has the training and expertise to know this. A man is much more than just a sperm test and there are many ways to assess male fertility.
Women are also very complex! Here is another shocking truth. A tube x-ray that says your tubes are open does not mean your tubes are working to get you pregnant. This is a common mistake made by non-specialists. The tubes are vital to get the sperm and egg together. You can have tubal issues causing your infertility despite a normal tube x-ray report.
Sometimes just the presence of the tubes in the body causes infertility. A fertility doctor can advise you on whether surgery to repair your tubes might be a successful option for you. We also sometimes advise that the best way to get pregnant is to actually remove the tubes altogether.
How to get Your Partner to see a Fertility Doctor
So you have booked your appointment with the fertility doctor. You are starting your journey to parenthood. But you have a big problem. Your partner does not want to join the party. He is supportive and wants to have kids with you. But for some reason, he is reluctant to do a sperm test or visit the fertility doctor with you.
So let me give you my top tip to get your guy to do a sperm test. Tell him it will save money! Being seen as a couple and getting the correct tests means you don’t waste time and money on the wrong fertility treatments. The sooner you get going with the right fertility treatment for you, the sooner you will become parents.
It takes two to make a baby. It also takes two to be tested before you can get the right advice for the right fertility treatments. I always strongly encourage both the man and the woman to be seen together when they want fertility testing and assessment. Men need to check their fertility too.