Why is male infertility on a rise?
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Infertility is a significant health problem affecting around 15 percent of couples.
Over the last few years, the discovery of declining trend of semen quality over past decades has become a major concern.
When a couple is diagnosed with fertility related issues, first thoughts often run to the woman.
As nature would have it, problems with infertility are equally due to male and female conditions, says Dr. Nameeta Mokashi Bhalerao, Senior Consultant, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Pune.
"Infertility is defined as the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse.
“However it is important to understand that this is not just a female problem. And the male are equally responsible," she says.
What causes male infertility?
The experts explains: While the very root cause of male infertility remains undetermined and more than 30 percent of the causes are not known but out of the known causes broadly 10 percent of the cases are due to semen quality issues another 10% due to infections, about 40% due to varicocele (a condition which refers to the swelling of the veins).
Amongst all the main cause behind male infertility is the quality or the number of sperms in males.
Beyond all this rising stress, lifestyle, poor diet, intake of alcohol, lack of exercises and being obese are another set of contributing factors.
In most cases, men are reluctant to get themselves tested and as a result the blame always shifts to the female partner.
Traditionally men are also embarrassed of getting themselves tested for infertility. It is a wrong notion to say and believe if men think such check-ups or tests may lead to loss of sexual interest and performance.
How to correct male infertility related issues?
Dr. Bhalerao suggests one must make a choice to take a chance to change your life - Always remember the 3C's of life - Choices, Chances and Changes
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Stress and obesity are two of the most significant issues leading to an increase in male infertility in India.
The growing emotional stress and changing eating habits impact the fertility of men in a negative way. It is important that both Men and Women maintain healthy weight as being obese effects both the eggs and sperm, and can reduce the chance of pregnancy.
Eat Right: Nutrition impacts sperm. Fresh well washed whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables green leafy vegetables and beans (legumes), walnuts, have antioxidants and vitamins that help with fertility. Vitamins C and E are especially important.
Processed fast foods, high-fat dairy items (ice cream, whole milk, may taste good to you but are not the best meals for your sperm. It important to include mono-unsaturated fats, vegetable proteins, high-fibre, low-glycemic carbohydrate-rich foods, more vegetarian sources of iron and Low fat dairy products.
Exercise is must and should not be skipped: The key is a balance in exercising. By making some changes - eating healthy meals and doing some regular exercise, you can work towards a healthier weight to improve your chance of pregnancy and having a healthy baby.
If you or your partner are overweight or obese, losing even a few kilos can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises along with Yoga should be practised. Make yoga an integral part of your daily fitness routine.
Semen quality plays a pivotal role in maintaining healthy fertilizing ability.
Male infertility is a rising global problem with an increasing declining in male semen quality and one of the major contributors to infertility.
Diagnosis of male infertility
Diagnosing male infertility may involve:
Physical examination - including medical history
Semen analysis - a sample of the man's semen is investigated in the laboratory and checked for abnormalities and the presence of antibodies
Blood tests - to assess hormone levels
To combat fertility related issues, it is essential to optimize lifestyle factors. Sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, heat exposure, stress, poor nutrition, and harmful environmental toxicants may all adversely affect sperm count and quality.
Simply put, just simple lifestyle changes can improve male fertility.
However, in other cases, if natural conception is impossible, assisted reproduction techniques can overcome the problem and advanced techniques such as IUI and IVF treatment can be used.
Even though specialists know the causes of male infertility, what's not always known is the cause behind the cause.