Sounds obvious doesn’t it?! So why does it so often seem like the conversations surrounding infertility focus mainly on women and their ‘issues’? It can sometimes feel like the woman takes the brunt of the strain and has to make most of the changes in order to improve a couple’s chances of having their longed-for child. In fact, when faced with problems with conceiving naturally, it is just as likely to be linked to male factors. Sadly, more often than not men can find this difficult to discuss, often seeing it as emasculating.
I recall my husband telling me that when he was asked why we hadn’t yet had any children, several male colleagues and acquaintances had said,
“Something wrong with your swimmers, mate?
“Firing blanks are you?”
When faced with these sorts of comments from their peers, is it any wonder men tend to shy away from looking into and addressing any potential issues they may have in this department?
When you begin investigations into your fertility after having tried unsuccessfully for around a year, your GP will initially arrange a series of tests to target any obvious issues. One of these will be a test to analyse the quality of the man’s sperm in which they look for three main things:
- Sperm count (the number of sperm present)
- Motility (how they move)
- Morphology (how the sperm are formed.)
Whilst this NHS test gives some indication of sperm quality, budget restraints mean they are limited in terms of how in-depth their analysis can go. In order to get a more detailed picture, it may be advisable to arrange a sperm DNA Fragmentation test through a private fertility clinic such as Thames Valley Fertility. This may highlight one or more of a range of potential issues that could be contributing to a couples’ fertility struggles, and the specialists will be able to support you both with the next steps to take together.
If, however, it transpires that there are no obvious concerns with regards to the quality of the man’s sperm, it can be tempting to then close that chapter, and assume the problem therefore lies with the woman. But there are still many things men can do to ensure their sperm remain strong and healthy. This was the case for myself and my husband, and yet he wanted to show me that he was just as committed to realising our dream as I was, especially as I was then having to have much more invasive investigations to see where our issues were now that any male factor was supposedly ruled out. He took it upon himself to research things he could do to help keep his sperm ‘tip-top’ and chose to do the following: cut out caffeine, stopped drinking alcohol, ate a healthier diet, exercised more regularly, and even made sure he limited how often he worked with his laptop directly on his lap to reduce the amount of overheating he was exposing his testicles to. All of these things made me feel like he understood how much I needed his commitment and I knew he was truly with me during these trying and difficult times.
Infertility is an emotionally draining and stressful journey and can put a strain on the strongest of relationships. It is therefore very important to remember that you and your partner are a team – you’re in this together and both need to invest wholly and equally with regards to talking about your feelings and emotions, making positive changes to your emotional and physical well-being, and ensuring that neither one of you feels any sense of blame or that this is your ‘fault’, even when investigations may highlight potential problems with one or both of you. Here at the Natural Fertility Clinic we want couples to feel cared for and supported during this challenging journey and offer an in-depth fertility consultation to discuss your individual circumstances where we aim to tailor support and guidance, together with a range of expert advice and holistic treatments that may help you realise your dream of becoming parents. We look forward to meeting you and being a positive part of your journey.
In our next article, we will be discussing in more detail the factors that can have a negative impact on sperm quality and offering some guidance on the positive steps you can take to help improve this.