According to the NHS, around one in seven couples in the UK experience difficulty conceiving – which includes approximately 3.5 million people.
Women often get the ‘blame’, but the truth is that male fertility decline is a factor in 40% – 50% of infertility cases. So why are infertile men often ‘hidden’ in fertility units across the world?
The dark secret of male infertility
When discussing fertility concerns and options, it is often the woman who is talked to, guided and nurtured. Society is almost always geared towards dealing with female infertility and the focus is on the prospective mother and her overall health. But fertility is about the couple, and what is often ignored is that infertile men are often unhappy, usually untreated, and sometimes die young.
For many men with diagnoses ranging from low sperm counts to poor sperm motility, infertility can become a hidden source of mental health problems.
A 2017 UK study saw the majority of respondents (93%) stating their well-being had been impacted by fertility issues. Men reported fertility issues to be emasculating, distressing and isolating, harming their self-identity, and causing stress, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
We can’t keep ignoring their physical and mental health.
Men need to be examined, investigated and just like other patients, treated and cared for.
An article published yesterday on BioNews also agreed that men are not getting adequate care for infertility.
Is ICSI the only solution?
Quite often, when a couple is offered fertility treatment and the male factor is taken into consideration, the only recommended treatment is ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection). ICSI itself can be very successful at helping the sperm and the egg to fertilise, but it is costly, and can carry slightly more risks than other fertility treatments.
We should be taking unexplained infertility seriously, from the use of antioxidants, hormone treatments and medications to looking at the DNA quality of sperm, treating genital tract infections and considering general lifestyle .