Although the ability to conceive is something we all think will happen easily and quickly, difficulty conceiving is incredibly common.
In fact, 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant, which means millions of couples in the U.S. are affected by infertility issues.
Many people assume that fertility is a female issue. In fact, it is not a female issue, nor is it a male issue. It is a couple’s issue.
Infertility affects both males and females. In over 50 per cent of infertility cases, the male is either a contributing factor or the sole source of the problem.
Getting pregnant is not a solo act, it takes a healthy egg and a healthy sperm to successfully make a baby.
While it sounds simple, the trying to conceive (TTC) journey is not always an easy or enjoyable experience.
Even knowing that it “takes two to tango,” many couples will still wait months, or even years, to start assessing the fertility status of the male partner.
In a standard conception timeline, the male is frequently not evaluated until after 12-15 months of trying to conceive, if at all.
It’s most common for the female partner to initiate the infertility evaluation.
Many men are reluctant to admit that they may be infertile. They may feel that such issues question their masculinity, which is not true.
Male infertility is not a question of their masculinity or virility, it is a medical issue, which can be successfully addressed.
Rarely does a male present to the male infertility specialist on his own stating that he and his partner have not been able to conceive and request an evaluation to see if there is an issue.
Rather, the typical scenario includes the female partner visiting her gynecologist concerned with the difficulty of conception.
After that initial consultation, the female’s fertility is regularly analysed to determine the cause for the delay in pregnancy.
This places unnecessary stress and an unfair burden on the female partner.
Medical Best Practices
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), anyone trying to conceive within the next year should undergo a reproductive health evaluation.
This recommendation explicitly states that the male should be evaluated in parallel with the evaluation of the female partner.
Early evaluation of the male facilitates the conception process, as we know the vast majority of male fertility issues can be successfully treated.
What Causes Infertility?
While the most common reason for female infertility is a problem with ovulation, the most common reason for male infertility is a problem with sperm quantity and quality.
For both partners, fertility can negatively affect lifestyle and behaviour, underlying health conditions, hormonal imbalances and age.
In the majority of cases, a cause for the infertility can be identified and successfully treated.
The Benefits of Approaching Fertility and Infertility as a Couple
Identifying and understanding the fertility of both partners early in the process can save months of heartache and stress.
The most efficient way to conceive is to have both partners undergo fertility assessments from qualified providers at the start of their journey.
When couples approach fertility equitably, they report feeling less overwhelmed and more emotionally connected with each other.
The goal is to bring the couple together to work towards a common goal.
The female shoulders less of the physical and mental load alone and the male has access to qualified medical expertise that helps to calm nerves and dispel societal stigmas about male infertility.
It’s important for infertile couples to avoid the “blame game.”
It is much better to make this a couple’s issue early on in the process in order to prevent either partner from placing the blame on the other.
Not only can infertility lead to marital discord, but it can also lead to an inappropriate sense of guilt, inadequacy, and even depression.
Working on this issue together can alleviate the tension and stress associated with infertility.
Additionally, among couples with male factor infertility, about 10 per cent have underlying health issues.
For example, males with fertility problems are more likely to have testicular cancer, pituitary tumours or other significant underlying hormonal imbalances.
Sperm health and fertility are men’s health issues that need to be addressed.
A comprehensive evaluation by a male fertility specialist can identify fertility-hindering issues that are typically treatable or completely reversible.
It takes about 72+ days to regenerate all new sperm.
A semen analysis makes it possible to assess whether a male issue is present, and if so, to develop a treatment plan to optimise the male’s fertility status.
Evaluating the male early in the TTC process expedites conception.
If you are trying to become a parent and desire outcomes sooner rather than later, it’s encouraged that you and your partner to approach the process equitably to help you conceive as quickly and as easily as possible.
Dr. Barrett Cowan is the Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Posterity Health.