Myths and facts about male infertility

From 'bikers have low sperm counts' to 'smoking makes a man impotent,' the topic of male infertility is rife with myths and half-truths.

Indian society mostly saddles women with the responsibility of bearing children, which means it's the women who are blamed for being infertile should there be a delay or absence in pregnancy. Today, we're destroying such myths by presenting a must-know list of myths and facts about male infertility. Here's a teaser - did you know that being overweight could harm the quality of sperms and overall sperm production? Here's Dr. Rashmi Sharma, Consultant at Moolchand Fertility & IVF, on the real causes behind male infertility. She says, "Male infertility can be treated, but first it is necessary to break taboos and certain myths and seek medical help." Over to Dr. Sharma...

Myth:
The biggest myth surrounding infertility is that infertility is a female problem.
Fact:
"This is not true. Infact, in about 40% cases of infertility; the problem lies with the male. We do see so many cases where thousands of tests for females are done but not a single semen analysis is done for the male partner."

Myth:
Stress is one of the major causes of infertility.
Fact:
"False. Actually, stress affects one's sex drive but not the semen quality or quantity and thus will not lead to infertility. So, if the sexual relations are ok and a woman still doesn't conceive, then medical help should be sought for both the partners."

Myth:
Keeping the testicles cold will enhance semen quality.
Fact:
"False. Cooling testicles by ice is not only dangerous but ineffective too. However, wearing tight undergarments, and prolonged driving should be avoided as it raises scrotal temperature and affects sperm quality. Also, heat and radiation from the prolonged use of a laptop on the lap and frequent use of hot tubs or saunas is not good for sperms and is proven by many studies to decrease the sperm count."

Myth:
Only older men have infertility problems.
Fact:
"No, even young men can have severe infertility problems. Absence of sperms or very low sperm counts can be encountered at ages as young as 20."

Myth:
Does smoking and drinking cause infertility in men?
Fact:
"Agreed. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation is beneficial as both are known to make sperm toxic."

Myth:
Nutritional supplements don't help in enhancing the sperm quality.
Fact:
"Anti-oxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, selenium do help up to some extent."

Myths and facts about male infertility
Myth:
Mobile phones kept in the pocket radiate electromagnetic waves, which damage sperm quality.
Fact:
"Well, this is not always true as these concerns are yet to be proven by larger studies."

Myth:
If you have had children previously, you won't suffer from infertility later on.
Fact:
"There are various reasons for secondary infertility, such as irregular ovulation in women, reduced concentration of sperm in men or other hormonal changes that affect both men and women. Thus, there is absolutely no guarantee that just because you have successfully had children in the past, you'll continue procreating in the future."

Myth:
Weight does not affect male fertility.
Fact:
"False. Men with an optimal body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 25 tend to have better sperm production and more normal sperm. Men who are overweight or underweight should talk about healthy ways to lose weight accordingly."

Myth:
Can excessive cycling affect male fertility or sperm count?
Fact:
"Not true. Cycling does not affect sperm count. However, the problem that should concern cyclists is actually related to erections."

Myth:
Bike riders have to be careful about the kind of seats they use.
Fact:
"The best evidence regarding bicycle seats pertains to erection, not fertility. Any seat that causes numbness could potentially damage a man's erection. However, there has not been any evidence to show that fertility is affected."

Myth:
Having sex everyday enhances fertility.
Fact:
"No. In fact, it may decrease the chances. As the egg's life is only 24 hours long, having sex more often will only help during the woman's fertile period."

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