Male fertility awareness is on the rise with a 26% increase in men accessing semen analysis services according to Waterstone Clinic, Ireland’s largest independent fertility specialists.
As International Men’s Health Week (MHW) runs until this Sunday, June 18, Dr Tim Dineen, Head of Laboratory Services at Waterstone Clinic outlined that men’s knowledge of the various factors associated with male infertility is rising. He added that events such as MHW are important platforms to promote conversation around men’s health, and issues such as fertility. Male infertility accounts for approximately 30% of couples seen at Waterstone Clinic.
“When we compare the start of 2017 to the same period three years ago, the numbers of those undertaking semen analysis, where we analyse the health and viability of a man’s sperm, are up 26%. This is a sizeable increase. Men are becoming more proactive about their fertility and taking appropriate action.
“Obviously, there is still more work to be done, but this is a step in the right direction. For many men, issues around fertility can be an affront to their masculinity and virility.”
Dr Dineen added: “A semen analysis is a straight forward non-invasive test that assesses a man’s fertility potential. The results give detailed information on sperm quality and quantity. It is important for men to bear in mind that even if the semen analysis shows low sperm numbers, it does not necessarily mean infertility. Simple lifestyle and diet changes can make a big difference to the quality of sperm.”
Dr Dineen explained that this includes stopping smoking, as there is a 23% decrease in sperm concentration in men who smoke. “In approximately one quarter of cases; smoking causes a decrease in sperm quality and smokers are more likely to take 12 months or longer to achieve a pregnancy.
“Men should also engage in regular exercise to maintain a healthy BMI, as being overweight or underweight can affect fertility. Reduce caffeine intake, so ease off on the flat whites and espressos, and also reduce alcohol intake.
“High temperatures may have a negative impact on sperm and men should take some precautions to prevent sperm from overheating. Men should reduce the amount of time spent in the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, turn off heated car seats, and avoid putting their laptops on their laps. Also, avoid tight jeans, fitted underwear and cycling shorts.”
Dr Dineen explained that certain vitamins and supplements can boost fertility such as Vitamin E, which is thought to protect the sperm membrane from damage; and Omega 3, which has shown to improve sperm count, motility and morphology. Zinc is also recommended as it improves sperm motility and is required to form the outer layer and tail of the sperm.
For those curious about their fertility or have recently started trying for a baby, self-referral fertility checks, such as My Fertility Check, can be booked online or by telephone. For more information, see myfertilitycheck.ie.