June 2021

Male Fertility

Infertility has become a major problem in Western Europe in recent years, and in the Czech Republic almost a quarter of couples have failed to conceive. Sometimes this is due to male infertility, sometimes female infertility and in many cases their combination. The effort to conceive, a successful pregnancy or possible failure thus affect the health of both partners. If you are unable to become pregnant after a year of unprotected sexual intercourse, it is time to visit an assisted reproduction clinic. Experienced professionals will perform a series of examinations and find out exactly what the problem is. How is fertility determined in men? How to promote fertility?


How fertility is determined in men?

As with pregnancy, there are home fertility tests to check male fertility. However, like pregnancy tests, they are not 100% reliable and the result may be skewed.  The only reliable method to determine fertility in men is a special test called a spermiogram (semen analysis). It is a microscopic examination of sperm, in which a number of parameters are monitored. The number, shape and motility of sperm are determined in a laboratory environment. The properties of the seminal fluid itself, such as viscosity, pH and liquefaction rate, are also tested. For the chance of fertilisation, there must be a sufficient number of sperm in the semen, which are not deformed in any way, but healthy, motile and viable.

To ensure the most accurate results, a man should hold two to seven days of sexual abstinence, including masturbation, before the spermiogram (semen analysis). Ideally, semen is collected directly at the clinic in the collection room, which is specially equipped for this purpose. By having the sample taken at the IVF clinic, this ensures it is collected under optimal conditions. In exceptional cases, it is possible to collect at home and bring the semen to the clinic in a sterile container, which is specially designed for this purpose and which you will receive directly at the assisted reproduction clinic. The container must be stored at room temperature and delivered to the clinic no later than sixty minutes after collection. Even so, there is a risk that the quality of the sperm will be reduced during transport and the result of the spermiogram (semen analysis) may not be accurate. 

It is usually recommended to collect semen over two to three examinations. There should be an interval of at least one week between individual samples. This is due to the fact that sperm is constantly formed and its production is influenced by various factors and external influences. This means that the number of sperm, their properties and the state of the seminal fluid change over time. The man will find out the results of the spermiogram (semen analysis) about an hour after the collection and analysis of sperm.




Risk factors for male fertility

The quality, properties and number of sperm change with age. That is why doctors from artificial insemination clinics ideally recommend not delaying conception. If all your efforts with your partner to get pregnant are fruitless, it's time for an examination. A spermiogram (semen analysis) will determine exactly what your chances of getting pregnant are.  In case of abnormalities, it is recommended to undergo further examinations, which can be used to determine the cause of infertility and also ways in which to treat it. For example, infertility caused by diabetes, hormonal imbalances or various infections can be treated. 

A number of factors have a negative effect on male fertility. Many of them are due to an unhealthy lifestyle. The quality and number of sperm are hugely mainly affected by cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and the use of marijuana or other addictive substances. Higher temperatures in the genital area also have a negative effect. Men who try to conceive with their partner should avoid wearing tight clothing, especially when it comes to tight underwear, skinny pants or the use of cycling shorts. Frequent saunas, heated seats, using a laptop on your lap or a long bike ride can also be harmful. Other reasons include stress or an unsuitable diet high in sugar and cholesterol. 

Male infertility can also be caused by genetics and various diseases. The quality and properties of sperm can be affected by underdeveloped male gonads (pretesticular causes). In the case where there is little or no sperm in the semen, there is talk of testicular causes. Post-tertiary causes of infertility include various diseases, such as an impassable vas deferens, prostatitis and others.


How to promote fertility in men

In the first case, it is necessary to eliminate all the above-mentioned risk factors and adjust your lifestyle. It also helps to consume foods that contain the necessary vitamins, minerals and trace elements to support fertility. These include zinc, selenium, calcium, folic acid and vitamins E, C and A, which act as antioxidants and affect the metabolic processes in sperm. Doctors recommend consuming these substances in foods that contain them naturally, and not rely solely on artificial supplements. Obesity and stress also have a negative effect on fertility. If you're trying to conceive and the problem is male infertility, it's worth betting on an active lifestyle, getting enough sleep and, most importantly, having a positive mood.