Navigating male fertility can be complicated and confusing, especially with so many misconceptions that still surround the condition, even today. Approximately 9% of men are diagnosed with infertility every year in the U.S., yet many — men and women alike — hold pervasive myths as truths while seeking to build their families.
Below we’ve outlined five common misconceptions surrounding male fertility and infertility.
Myth #1 — Age doesn’t affect a man’s fertility.
While many believe that only women’s fertility is affected by age, men must also consider their age if planning to start a family. Although men don’t go through menopause as women do, meaning many men can still conceive children later in life, sperm quality and quantity both begin to decline around age 40.
Myth #2 — Only hard drugs affect men’s ability to conceive.
It’s not just hard drugs that affect fertility; tobacco use, too, can result in decreased fertility in both men and women. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage sperm, resulting in longer time to conception. Even secondhand smoke can affect male fertility. If pregnancy is achieved, the health of the child may be compromised as well, as smoke affects the DNA in sperm as well as men’s hormone production.
Myth #3 — Men don’t need to take supplements to increase fertility.
While it’s common knowledge that taking folic acid can help women get pregnant, men can also benefit from folic acid supplements. Taking folic acid daily can help men maintain a healthy sperm count. Low folic acid intake is also linked to a higher rate of chromosomal abnormalities in sperm.
It’s not just folic acid that can help in achieving pregnancy; coenzyme Q10 has been shown to increase sperm count and improve sperm motility. Vitamin E can also help in increasing sperm count.
Myth #4 — Caffeine doesn’t have an effect on sperm count.
While one or two of cups of coffee a day won’t impact sperm count or quality, anything more than four cups a day may result in abnormally shaped sperm, according to a 2017 study in Nutrition Journal. Plus, more than two caffeinated beverages a day in the weeks before conception can heighten the risk of miscarriage.
Myth #5 — Laptop use won’t affect male fertility.
Although this has seen debate in recent years, research points to the fact that heat exposure can result in lower-quality, less-motile sperm. This isn’t just confined to laptops, though, which should be used on a desk, but if using on the lap, something should be placed underneath to protect the testes.
Mobile phones, too, can impact sperm quality; it’s best to avoid keeping a phone in a front pants pocket. Other sources of heat, like saunas, hot tubs, and even heated car seats, can also affect sperm production and quality. Luckily, one probably doesn’t have to worry too much about any of the above unless such exposure is a regular occurrence, but it’s wise to play it safe.
Understanding Male Fertility
Although misconceptions about male fertility and infertility still abound, simply developing an understanding of these pervasive myths can be hugely helpful when trying to start a family, whether someone is currently trying to conceive or planning ahead.
If you’re having trouble conceiving or want to learn more about the points discussed above, connect with a male fertility specialist at Aspire Fertility today.