The next step for many married couples is having a precious little baby to complete their family. But trying to conceive is not always as easy as just popping a bun in the oven. Especially when either the wife or even the husband are experiencing fertility issues.
According to the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, fertility issues affect approximately 15% of couples in Singapore alone. Not only that but among this group, 50% are males with fertility issues.
This makes it even more important to know what are the signs of infertility in males that husbands should know about and where to seek treatment. To be more informed about fertility issues in men, theAsianparent reached out to Dr Ee Tat Xin, a Consultant with the Department of Reproductive
Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Here’s what he had to say…
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What Are The Early Signs Of Infertility In Males To Look Out For
For husbands wondering what exactly are the signs of infertility in males, Dr Ee gives the following to be mindful of:
- Unable to have an erection or ejaculate
“If the man cannot have an erection or ejaculate, then these are really obvious signs to seek medical assessment,” says Dr Ee.
- Inadequate sperm criteria
“Also, if he and his partner have been trying for a while without contraceptives, it may warrant a check as it could mean that the sperm criteria are not adequate,” he adds.
“When the man goes for a check, typically, the main test for male fertility will be a semen analysis (SA) test. Further testing will be considered, depending on the results of the SA. A man with a normal SA will rarely have to undergo further testing,” Dr Ee tells theAsianparent.
“Generally, the parameters of the components of the SA is wide-ranging. For example, the concentration of the semen may range from zero to hundreds of millions,” he continues to explain. “However, that does not mean that the man with low sperm count will not conceive or that the man with high sperm count will definitely conceive.”
Lifestyle Factors That Affect Fertility In Men
Dr Ee also helpfully breaks down lifestyle factors that are found detrimental when it come to fertility in men:
1. Smoking: substances in cigarette smoke are toxic to sperms (and to eggs and to the developing embryo in pregnancy).
2. Heavy alcohol consumption can affect hormone levels in men (and women) and interfere with sperm production and sperm function.
3. Drug abuse like using heroin, cocaine, anabolics and steroids (used by athletes and body-builders) can also affect sperm production
4. Obesity is known to result in an alteration of the hormonal regulation in men which can affect the production or quality of sperm, libido or cause erectile dysfunction in men.
Obesity is also associated with depression, which may further adversely affect the sexual health of the men. Therefore, obesity has long been postulated to have a hormonal, mechanical and psychosocial ill-effects on male fertility.
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How To Avoid Fertility Issues In Men
Aside from knowing what are the early signs of infertility in males, it would be helpful to know how you can avoid it from the get-go. When asked what husbands can change in their daily lives to avoid fertility issues, Dr Ee gave the following tips:
- Avoid smoking, alcohol consumption and taking drugs
- Ensure you have a healthy body mass index
While the quality of the sperm is not as affected by a person’s age, as compared to the quality of eggs, there is increasing evidence to show a slight decline in sperm quality with age.
“Try to conceive early as men aged older than 40 years contribute to reduced fertility and fecundity (maximum potential reproductive ability)
of a couple, especially when the female partner is also of advanced age,” advises Dr Ee.
He adds, “There are also observations that sperm DNA damage is significantly higher in older men and that it is detrimental to reproductive outcomes. In addition, there may be an increased incidence of sexual dysfunction in older men.”
Where To Seek Treatment For Fertility Issues
A wife and a husband can both seek help from a fertility specialist. For instance, KKH offers a comprehensive range of fertility treatments for couples wanting to start a family.
According to Dr Ee, treatment of infertility in males largely depends on the cause. He says, “Should the infertility be due to causes like previous vasectomy (male sterilisation) or recent hormonal or steroid usage, these causes can be reversed.”
Men with poor sperm due to chronic diseases such as obesity or diabetes may also often see their sperm improving after optimising their chronic diseases.
“However, causes such as testicular failure, genetic disorders or congenital absence of the vas deferens (long muscular tube that propels sperm into the urethra during ejaculation) are not reversible. Men with these conditions will likely be recommended to look towards in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for their best chance at conception,” the doctor makes sure to add.
Image source: iStock
Importance Of Fertility Health Checks For Couples
As we may all know, Dr Ee says age is a very important factor in determining the success of fertility treatment.
For females, fertility potential is highest before 30 years old, as per Dr Ee. But it will steadily decline with age, especially after women turn 35 years old.
After 40 years of age, only 10 to 15 per cent will be able to conceive, even with assisted reproductive technology (ART),” Dr Ee says. “Therefore, the success rate of a woman at or over 40, having a baby through natural conception is even lower.”
The doctor stresses how “time is really crucial”. He shares, “It is important for couples to seek a fertility health check because couples who are healthy may not mean that they have good fertility health.”
“Instead of waiting till it is too late, just in case there are underlying issues causing fertility conditions, the couple should seek help early,” adds Dr Ee.
It is also advised that couples seek specialised medical attention if they do not conceive after one year of regular intercourse without the use of contraceptives.
“Couples above 35 years of age who have not been able to conceive after six months, even though they have been having regular intercourse without the use of contraceptives, may want to seek specialised medical attention,” concludes Dr Ee.
As part of the Know Your Fertility Wellness Campaign, I Love Children has partnered with Thomson Fertility Centre who will be giving 200 Fertility Health Checks and Thomson Chinese Medicine who will be giving out 50 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultations to couples.
Interested couples can sign up for the package at https://ilovechildren.sg/fertility-health-check-2021. Each fertility health check and Traditional Chinese Medicine Fertility Consultation is worth S$400 and S$200 respectively. The registration closes on 19 December 2021.
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