5 mitos sobre la fertilidad masculina

5 popular beliefs about male fertility – myth or reality?

Despite the fact that reproductive medicine is booming and regularly introduces new advances that boost its development and the progress of society, as with everything else, it still has some unresolved issues. A symptom of this is the lack of knowledge that still surrounds male infertility, which favours the propagation of myths – or half-truths – that only serve to perpetuate the disinformation we are talking about. It is this situation that, today, leads us, the professionals at IVF-Life, to reveal what is true in each of the most common beliefs in this context, always with the aim of providing our patients with any form of knowledge that may be of help in the important project that is creating a family. 

“Fertility-related problems are always linked to women and only women should be concerned about their reproductive health” 

When we read this sentence, we are faced with probably the most widespread fertility myth, which constantly tends to disassociate men from both sterility and infertility diagnoses, as well as from the treatments that specialists in reproductive medicine recommend so that they can become fathers. What’s the deal? Well, reality is far from this. 

According to the latest National Activity Registry of the Spanish Fertility Society (SEF), 19.9% of IVF treatments were indicated as a result of a difficulty related to the fertility status of the male and 21.5% for mixed causes, and, 10 years ago, for example, the male factor was the most frequent condition. 

Statistics represent a reality that may be surprising for many people and will hopefully encourage others to learn more about men and their fertility, so that society can be aware of the pathologies that occur in men, the implications of old age when wanting to become a father or the crucial role that men play when undergoing assisted reproductive treatment. 

“Do tobacco, cannabis or alcohol use and lifestyle interfere with male fertility?” 

Following on from the first point made in this article, the question arises as to whether men should take care of their reproductive health, and the answer is a resounding “yes”.

It is scientifically proven that smoking is harmful to male reproductive health, as the substances in tobacco can cause alterations in the concentration, morphology and motility of spermatozoa, as well as increase sperm DNA fragmentation and the possibility of aneuploidy. Cannabis use is not risk-free either, as it influences the aforementioned parameters, in addition to sperm capacitation and viability.

Excessive alcohol consumption has also been shown to have a negative impact on male fertility, as it interferes with hormone production and, consequently, with ejaculate volume and sperm morphology. 

Finally, looking at lifestyle from another perspective, the relevance of mental health is worth mentioning, since, for instance, stress, by altering testosterone levels and spermatogenesis, has the potential to play an important role in determining some semen parameters. 

“The larger a semen sample and the less transparent it is, the better”

While there are studies in the scientific literature linking higher sperm concentration with “whiter”-looking ejaculates, a more transparent looking ejaculate may be of optimal quality.

Furthermore, although the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines hypospermia as a condition where the seminal volume is less than 1.5 ml, amounts between 1.5 ml and 6 ml are considered normal.

What is recommended to patients with regard to semen quantity and colour is to not attempt to self-assess their own sample, as they will only become obsessed with something that can only be analysed by professionals in a specialised laboratory. 

Male infertility is hereditary

This point is quite interesting, as it constitutes both a myth and a reality. Just because a parent has a history of reproductive difficulties does not mean that their offspring will necessarily show it. 

Nevertheless, there are cases where a male can indeed inherit a condition that results in sterility or infertility. An example of this is what happens with Y chromosome microdeletions, i.e., in cases where there is a small loss of genetic material in the Y chromosome, which can sometimes lead to a diagnosis of azoospermia (absence of sperm in the ejaculate). 

Fortunately, advanced techniques in genetic reproductive medicine have the power to find conditions such as this one in order to enable us, the specialists in assisted reproduction, to find the ideal course of treatment. 

Is it true that wearing tight underwear affects fertility? What about frequent masturbation?

For a while now, we’ve all been witnessing the claim that wearing tight-fitting underwear can affect male fertility, and some studies have indeed claimed that it does.

The experts who have addressed this issue base their conclusion on the increase in temperature to which the testicles are subjected when wearing these garments, taking into account that this temperature, in its natural state, is 2 degrees lower than that of the rest of the body. This alteration could, therefore, affect sperm production. However, part of the medical community has expressed doubts on the issue, due to the scarcity in research and population sampling. 

On the other hand, the premise that frequent masturbation causes infertility has been addressed by a larger number of studies, which reveal that this is rather a myth. In any case, it should be noted that sexual abstinence for 2 to 7 days is beneficial when it comes to, for example, performing a seminogram, as it ensures that we obtain a sample of the right quantity and quality. 

Do you have questions about the male factor? We will answer them for you!

We hope that today’s article has solved for our patients some of the questions that may arise around male fertility and we trust that, if you need reproductive advice on this matter or any other, you know that our team is ready to help you and tell you everything we can do for you and your future family.