While the subject of fertility often puts the spotlight and scrutiny on the female, it is important to acknowledge that male fertility also plays a significant part in the conception process. In about 30% of infertility cases, male factor,which includes sperm health and sexual dysfunction, is the sole cause of infertility.
Despite this, the lack of education in today’s society creates misconceptions that fertility issues are solely a female’s problem. Hence, it is imperative to understand the role males play in fertility, and recognize the importance of addressing male infertility as a key factor in achieving successful conception.
So what are some of the causes for male infertility? Hormone imbalances, environmental factors, and lifestyle factors are some of the leading causes for male infertility. Despite studies showing that 65% males on TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) become sterile within 4 months of use, 72% of respondents of the Sperm Report believed that it would actually benefit their fertility. When it comes to environmental factors, only 18% of respondents identified pollution as a factor impacting male fertility.
However, one study showed that for every increase of 10 micrograms of pollutant in a cubic meter of air, exposed couples were 20% more likely to experience infertility. Some lifestyle factors that do impact fertility include smoking, drinking, and even sleeping late, not surprisingly, no more than 50% of respondents identified these factors.
To begin with, 35% of men and 40% of women underestimate the role that male-factor infertility plays. Not surprisingly, only 1 in 4 men who were trying to have children tested their fertility. The myth that infertility is solely a female’s issue has been perpetuated in pop culture, which is a big problem. Many men may feel ashamed or emasculated if they are unable to father a child, which leads to feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.
Ultimately, it may prevent men from seeking medical assistance or even talking openly with their partners about their own fertility concerns. Because of this, male infertility often goes unexplored and under-diagnosed, which results in delayed treatment, missed opportunities of successful conception, and unnecessary stress and anxiety for both partners.
To showcase the disparity between education of male and female fertility, here are two research studies done. The Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology surveyed 1,000 women aged 18-45 in the U.S. in 2018 to assess their knowledge towards fertility and reproductive health. The study found that 43% of participants were aware that their fertility declines with age. Looking at the 2023 Sperm report by Carrot & Legacy, it was found that only 15% of female respondents were aware of fertility declines in a man’s 30s.
So how can we address this misconception and disparity of education that has perpetuated in our society for decades? As healthcare investors in the fertility space, how can we leave a positive impact and chip away at this disparity? Here are a two ways:
Invest in companies developing innovative male infertility treatments. These treatments can help to advance the field and improve access to care for couples struggling with male infertility. These are the startups that are focused on developing new drugs, medical devices, or other technologies that improve sperm quality, increase sperm count, and address other factors that contribute to male infertility. Start-ups are the foremost innovators and industry disruptors in our society.
Promote education and awareness on male infertility by writing pieces like this. We can include supporting organizations that provide information and resources on male infertility, sponsor educational events or campaigns, or collaborate with healthcare providers to improve patient education. At Recharge, we are constantly conversing with innovators and service providers to educate not only ourselves but also bring the spotlight to these industry leaders.
In conclusion, male infertility is a significant factor in the conception process, yet misconceptions surrounding male fertility persist. Lack of education and awareness perpetuate the myth that infertility is solely a female issue, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment, unnecessary stress, and feelings of shame and isolation for men. It is time to break the stigma and work towards a more informed and inclusive approach to fertility!