Category: Male Fertility

Debunking the Myths: Top 5 Facts Men Should Know About Male Infertility

male infertilityMyths about male infertility are varied and widely believed. If you’re trying to become a parent, do you believe having sex daily with your partner will increase your odds of conception? Are you convinced boxers will boost your sperm production? Maybe you think difficulty conceiving is related to a female fertility problem.

The reality is that out of all cases, infertility can be due to the woman, the man, or a combination of the two. In fact, 1 in six couples have problems conceiving, and male infertility makes up about 50% of all infertility cases. However, most men don’t go in for a noninvasive diagnosis until their partner has  had extensive evaluations. Male comprehensive tests, including hormonal testing, semen analysis, and testicular ultrasounds, are painless and straightforward.

Here are some other facts that debunk other common myths. How many of them do you know?

1 – Daily Intercourse will not Improve the Odds of Conception

Most people believe that the more you try, the higher the odds of becoming pregnant. The truth is you should look at the timing. A man’s sperm can live for 48 to 72 hours inside a woman’s reproductive tract. For those trying to conceive timing intercourse to match a woman’s fertile window, the five to six days before ovulation, is vital

2 – Boxers or Briefs? It Doesn’t Matter!

The choice of underwear doesn’t affect male fertility. Research has shown that while the testicles need to stay a few degrees cooler than the body’s core temperature for proper sperm production, wearing snug underwear doesn’t seem to have much impact. On the other hand, experts recommend staying out of hot tubs to avoid unnecessary heat exposure.

3 – Not All Men Have Sperm in Their Semen

An absent sperm count affects approximately 1% of the male population. There may be a problem even if the ejaculate looks normal since most of the ejaculated fluid isn’t sperm. The best way to know for sure is to have a semen analysis, or sperm count, to test the health and vitality of the sperm. Testing is simple and painless and there are treatment options if a problem is diagnosed.

4 – Age Can Affect Your Sperm

While men can still procreate well into their later years, their sperm numbers decline along with their testosterone. Also, research has found older sperm can contribute to conditions like autism and schizophrenia in children who are conceived after their father turns 50.

5 – Self-Exams and Check-ups Are Important for Male Fertility

Examining your scrotum monthly not only helps you identify the early stages of testicular cancer but also possible varicoceles, enlarged veins in the scrotum that can cause future infertility. A yearly check-up with a urologist can keep you better informed about your reproductive health as well.

Although some causes of male infertility are out of your control, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, exercise, and lower stress. By doing so, you will have a head start in addressing all the aspects of male fertility that you do have control over. Learn more in our articles: What is Male Infertility and What Causes Infertility in Men.

Conception is Our Life. Vios Cares About Making Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

If you are struggling with male infertility, you are not alone. Comprehensive tests, including hormonal testing, semen analysis, and testicular ultrasounds, are painless and straightforward. Vios Fertility Institute offers you a team of compassionate doctors and state-of-the-art testing and treatment options to help you along your unique fertility journey.

Take control of your fertility health and contact us today to schedule a consultation!

Stress and Trying to Conceive

stress and trying to conceiveStress and infertility don’t go hand in hand, but stress can make it more difficult to conceive and even affects men too! So, what is it about stress and trying to conceive?

Having a hard time getting pregnant can be a real stress itself. While staying calm and letting nature take its course is much easier said than done, there’s certainly some truth to it.

Stress Triggers Hormone Production

While the exact link between fertility and stress remain a bit of a mystery, many doctors believe hormones like cortisol or epinephrine that flood the body during stress could play an important role.

What we do know is that stress can affect a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which regulates your hormones, including the hormones required to release your eggs. Not just you either – it regulates your partner’s testosterone levels, too. So, the real issue is that stress can delay your ovulation AND if your partner is experiencing stress too, it can weaken his sperm.

Doctors may not know the exact links between stress and trying to conceive, but growing research shows that a connection is hard to ignore.

Some studies have found that when stress-reduction techniques were used, some women were able to get pregnant when they couldn’t get pregnant before. Other studies point to the idea that stress (and sometimes “trying too hard”) may play a role in up to 30% of all infertility problems. Additionally, some studies indicate that it’s possible that reducing stress may help enhance proteins within the uterine lining that are involved in implantation and may also increase blood flow to the uterus, which also affects conception.

Signs You May Be Stressed

If you’re trying to conceive and you’re under stress, your cervical mucus may indicate that something’s not right. As you approach ovulation, you would typically have an increase in cervical fluid wetness. However, during times of stress, you may find that typical wetness is disrupted by days of dryness interspersed throughout – almost as if your body is trying to ovulate but is getting thrown off by the stress that is delaying ovulation.

Different Kinds of Stress

It can be important to note that there is a considerable difference between constant and sudden stress. Your body can adapt to high, but consistent, stress levels. Once your body acclimates to consistent stresses, you will likely still ovulate each cycle. Sudden stress on the other hand, like a car wreck or an unexpected death in the family, is much more likely to interfere with your cycle and delay ovulation.

Everyone is Different

Of course, every woman’s experience with stress and fertility is unique. Some women find that the stress of going on a week-long vacation is enough to delay ovulation. Others have found that a severely traumatic incident like a close death didn’t impact their cycle at all. Some women found that positive stress, like that from planning a wedding, was enough to throw off their cycle. You’ve heard it all before, but everyone is different, and the reasons behind how or why stress impacts fertility may also be very individual.

Work Out What Is Stressing You and Make Positive Changes

Try making changes in your life so that you feel more relaxed and pick up healthy habits that help to reduce stress. Start by making little changes, like meditating or doing yoga for 5 minutes on Monday and work your way up to 30 minutes by the weekend. Give acupuncture a try. Eating healthy is always a given, as is exercising (even a short walk counts). Start keeping a journal. Even take a break if you need to.

Check out apps like Expectful Meditation that offer guided meditation for your fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood journey.

The Good News

The good news is that stress should not prevent you from getting pregnant, it just complicates things and makes it more difficult for some women. If you’re having sex every two to three days throughout your cycle, stress-induced delays to ovulation should not stop you from conceiving. A delayed ovulation simply lengthens your entire cycle.

You can confirm whether you have ovulated by tracking your basal body temperature. You should see a sustained rise about a day after ovulation, indicating the onset of your luteal phase, which lasts until the start of your next menstrual period.

Help If You Need It – Vios Cares About Making Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

Everyone’s fertility journey is different. At Vios, our team approach focuses on helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality. If stress-reduction techniques don’t appear to be helping you conceive, it may be time to seek help.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. With Vios on your side, we can help you find out if there are other reasons you may not be ovulating and recommend treatment options.

What Sexual Positions Are Best for Getting Pregnant?

A Conception Misconception

best positions for conceptionAccording to the experts, there’re not best positions for conception. In fact, different sex positions aren’t going to make much difference when you’re trying to conceive. Sperm typically reaches its target no matter the position. So just stick with what feels best for you and your partner!

Side Note About the Female Orgasm. Although mutual pleasure is important to a healthy sexual relationship, there is no evidence that the female must have an orgasm to conceive. Gentle contractions in the womb can help to move the sperm along, up into the cervix, but these happen with or without the female orgasm.

Real Advice for Getting Pregnant

Looking outside the best positions for conception, to optimize a woman’s fertility, nothing is better than a healthy lifestyle. Forming healthy habits before conceiving is a key to improving pregnancy and birth outcomes, while also increasing your chances of getting pregnant. But what else can women do to improve their odds of having a baby?

Timing is Everything: Ovulation Calculation

Ovulation refers to the days in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible and is sometimes referred to as the “fertile window.” As with all things pregnancy-related, this varies from woman to woman and depends on the length of the menstrual cycle.

If you know your average menstrual cycle length, you can work out when you ovulate. Ovulation happens about 14 days before your period starts.

For example, if your average menstrual cycle is 28 days, you ovulate around day 14, and your most fertile days are cycle days 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. Your egg can only be fertilized for up to 24 hours after ovulation. If it isn’t fertilized, the lining of the womb is shed along with the egg and your period begins, marking the start of the next menstrual cycle.

A Sexy Schedule

It’s important to note that research indicates that a lot of women (even ones that use ovulation tracking apps) tend to guess when they’re ovulating incorrectly. For this reason, it is recommended to have sex every other day during the fertile window. And having sex more than that won’t hurt your chances. Because sperm can live for up to 5 days after being ejaculated into a woman’s body, you can actually get pregnant from having sex before you ovulate. That’s why it’s possible to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex while menstruating. If you ovulate shortly after you finish your period, the sperm may still be alive and can fertilize the egg.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Reaching a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, creating and sticking to an exercise routine that works for you, and kicking bad habits before pregnancy can reduce or may even eliminate the risks of some birth defects that occur early in pregnancy. For more info, check out our blog article on Natural Ways to Increase Fertility.

Symptoms of Infertility & When to Seek Help

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive within 12 months if you are under 35 and the inability to conceive within 6 months if you are over 35. Extensive research shows that most couples (about 85%) will achieve pregnancy within one year of trying. Only an additional 7% of couples will conceive in the second year. That’s why we generally recommend seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist as early as possible.

Additionally, there are various scenarios when we recommend a fertility evaluation regardless of how long you’ve been trying to get pregnant:

  • Infrequent or absent menstrual periods
  • A history of pelvic infection or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Surgeries on the reproductive organs
  • Known uterine fibroids or endometrial polyps
  • Known male factor semen abnormalities
  • Problems with erection or ejaculation
  • Male partner undergoing testosterone treatment
  • Repeated pregnancy loss or miscarriage
  • Family history of genetic disease
  • Female partner approaching her mid-thirties and wants to multiple children

Help If You Need It – Vios Cares About Making Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that affects the body’s ability to reproduce. If you are unsure or think something might be wrong, come in for simple fertility testing to get a “pulse” or baseline of your fertility health. After all, knowledge is power!

While each patient is different, an initial workup includes blood work, an ultrasound to measure eggs (or ovarian reserve), and a semen analysis. Some additional test can be included, depending on a patient’s specific history.

At Vios, our team approach is to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health while helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment, discuss your options, and take control of your fertility health.

What Causes Infertility in Men?

Male Infertility Causes

male infertility causesYou don’t hear about it as often as its female counterpart, but infertility is not just a female problem. While statistics tend to focus on the woman, it is important to note that male infertility diagnoses are just as common. In fact, male infertility (or a combination of the male and female partner both having issues) makes up 50% of all infertility cases. However, most men don’t go in for a noninvasive diagnosis until their partners have endured extensive evaluations.

How It Works

Fertility is complex, with infertility seeming more complex still. What we do know, is what makes fertile couples successful from a male fertility standpoint:

  • Healthy sperm production
  • Sperm and semen must mix after sperm are produced in the testicles
  • Sperm count – to increase the chance that an egg is fertilized
  • Sperm motility (or how it moves) – so it can reach the egg to fertilize it
  • Sperm morphology (or how it is shaped) – so that it can penetrate the egg to fertilize it

If anything interferes with sperm production and delivery, or if an infection hinders your sperm’s ability to move, male infertility issues may arise.

Causes and Risk Factors

Problems with male fertility can be caused by several things – from health issues and medical treatments, to poor lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and normal aging.

Post-testicular causes are a set of conditions that affect the male genital system after the sperm has been produced. They include infections, obstructions, and defects of the genital tract as well as problems in ejaculation.

Some Common Infertility Culprits

The most common (and reversible!) cause of male infertility is varicocele – a condition of swollen testicle veins that is present in about 15% of all men and in about 40% of infertile men.

Of the most commonly known causes of male infertility, Klinefelter Syndrome is a chromosomal defect that occurs in males early in the womb that results in smaller testes, which reduces the levels of testosterone and sperm production that naturally occurs.

Furthermore, antisperm antibodies are immune system cells which mistake sperm for a harmful intruder and tries to destroy them. These antibodies can be found in both males and females and have been considered as the cause of infertility in about 20% of infertile couples.

Cancer/Tumors

Cancerous tumors and nonmalignant tumors can affect the male reproductive organs directly, via the glands that release hormones related to reproduction. Unfortunately, some treatments to overcome cancer can also negatively affect male fertility, such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Seeking a fertility consultation before undergoing cancer treatments will allow you to understand what negative effects (if any) are expected based on your specific treatment regimen. If treatment will harm or eliminate fertility potential, you can choose to preserve your fertility through sperm freezing.

STDs and STIs

Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. Chlamydia is the most common STI associated with male infertility, followed by gonorrhea. Both are bacterial infections and are treatable with antibiotics.

It is important to note that up to half of infections do not produce noticeable symptoms, and if left uncontrolled, can cause permanent scarring and blockages in the areas associated with sperm production. Although some infections can result in permanent testicular damage, most often sperm can still be retrieved through surgical procedures.

Other Causes

There are many associated causes related to lifestyle choices and health issues. These include smoking cigarettes, being overweight, heavy consumption of alcohol, or the use of illicit drugs.

  • Smoking tobacco products may damage the testicles and kill sperm
  • Obesity increases the likelihood of abnormal sperm cells
  • Alcohol abuse can cause erectile dysfunction and decreased sperm health

Aging happens to us all and is not under our control, but it is an important factor in infertility. While men can still procreate well into their later years, their sperm numbers decline along with their testosterone. In addition, research has found older sperm can contribute to conditions like autism and schizophrenia in children who are conceived after their father turns 50.

Although some causes of male infertility are out of your control, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle, perform self-exams, and get regular check-ups. By doing so, you will have a head start in addressing all the aspects of male fertility that you do have control over. Learn more in our article What is Male Infertility.

Should I See a Specialist?

If you are struggling with male infertility, you are not alone. Comprehensive tests, including hormonal testing, semen analysis, and testicular ultrasounds, are simple and painless. Vios Fertility Institute offers you a team of compassionate doctors and state-of-the-art testing and treatment options to help you along your unique fertility journey.

Take control of your fertility health and contact us today to schedule a consultation!

What is Male Infertility?

What is Male InfertilityMale infertility is defined by a male’s inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female. Out of the 15% of couples that have trouble getting pregnant, male infertility accounts for about 40–50% of infertility and affects approximately 7% of all men. Male infertility is commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, such as low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm.

Even though this article focuses on “what is male infertility,” it is important for both you and your partner to undergo testing. By doing so, we save time and identify right away the root cause of the fertility problems. Then, we can then address the issue(s) and move you closer to your dreams of parenthood.

Causes & Symptoms of Male Infertility

Sometimes the only obvious symptom of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child with a woman who has under gone a fertility checkup to determine everything is working properly on her end. The rule of thumb for infertility is the inability to conceive a child after 1 year if the woman is under 35 years of age and after 6 months if the woman is over 35 years of age.

But there are a number of reasons why a man might experience fertility problems.  Male infertility may result from an injury, an inherited or chronic health condition, or lifestyle choices. If the cause of infertility is related to an underlying medical problem these conditions may cause additional signs and symptoms like:

  • Problems with sexual function (such as difficulty with ejaculation, reduced sexual desire, or difficulty maintaining an erection)
  • Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Inability to smell
  • Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial or body hair (or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality)

You can learn more about causes and risk factors in our article What Causes Infertility in Men.

Lifestyle Changes Can Help

While some types of male infertility aren’t preventable, others can be treated with lifestyle changes. Optimizing your health and avoiding things thought to be associated with or known to cause male infertility can increase your chances of conception. For example:

  • No cigarette, e-cigarette, and marijuana smoking (see Can Smoking Really Affect My Chances of Getting Pregnant for more information)
  • Limit alcohol
  • No illicit drugs
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Avoid prolonged heat exposure to testicles
  • Avoid exposure to pesticides and other toxins
  • Reduce stress
  • Discuss any testosterone supplement use with your physician or fertility specialist as testosterone treatment can cause a decrease in sperm production

 Now for some good news. Unlike a woman who is born with all the eggs she will ever produce, a man makes sperm throughout most of his life. Usually it takes 2.5 to 3 months for new sperm to fully mature and be capable of fertilizing an egg. Therefore, any positive lifestyle changes made today will have a positive effect on ejaculated sperm within 3 months.

 When Should I See a Specialist?

Couples may be disappointed when they aren’t pregnant after a few months of trying, but they shouldn’t be. It takes the average couple at least six months to become pregnant. If you haven’t conceived within one year, a fertility consultation for you and your partner is warranted. If you are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms listed above, seek a consultation immediately, regardless of time trying to conceive.

What to Do If You Think Something is Wrong

In most cases, there is no obvious sign that a man is infertile without testing. Not being able to conceive a child can be stressful and frustrating. That’s where the experts at Vios come in. A simple semen analysis test can give us a good indication of what is going on, and what treatment options would be best for you and your partner.

Conception is Our Life. Vios Cares About Making Your Dreams of Parenthood Come True

Vios Fertility Institute’s experienced doctors and compassionate team focus on your care from day one to help you along your unique fertility journey. Our team approach is to educate and bring awareness to your fertility health while helping you navigate the journey and make your dreams of parenthood a reality.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take control of your fertility health.

What’s the Difference Between a Traditional Surrogate and a Gestational Carrier?

gestational carrierMany people have heard the term “surrogate” when it comes to family planning, but few are familiar with the term “gestational carrier.” In both cases, a woman is using her uterus to carry a child for another family, but there’s a big difference between the two.

Surrogates and gestational carriers may be different, but they have two incredible things in common – a generous heart and extraordinary selflessness to grant a family facing infertility the gift of a child of their own.

Why a Family Needs a Surrogate

If a couple is unable to conceive or the woman is unable to carry a baby, a surrogate can step in to help them become parents. Prospective moms and dads may reach out to a friend or loved one to carry their child, but in most cases, they’re connected to a surrogate through an agency. All surrogacy agencies provide extensive screening of potential candidates through medical and psychological testing, and in fact, almost 98% of women who apply are rejected for various reasons.

What is a Traditional Surrogate?

The type of “surrogate” most people think of and a potentially more affordable option for parents-to-be is a traditional surrogate in which the surrogate donates her egg AND carries the pregnancy. With a traditional surrogate, pregnancy can often occur with intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the male partner’s sperm is injected into the surrogate’s uterus.

The surrogate’s medical expenses are covered by the intended parents and, depending on the situation, she is compensated for carrying the pregnancy. While it can be less expensive, traditional surrogacy can open the intended couple up to heartbreaking legal ramifications. The surrogate is the biological mother of the child she carries, and if she decides she wants to keep the baby, the intended parents may have no legal recourse. Even if a legal contract is in place prior to conception (which we require), laws in many states may allow for the surrogate to fight for custody of the child. For this reason, we strongly advise patients to use a gestational carrier instead of a traditional surrogate.

What is a Gestational Carrier?

In a gestational carrier situation, the egg can come from the intended mother, be donated by a loved one, or acquired through an egg bank. The egg is fertilized with the male partner’s sperm or with donor sperm before it’s transferred to the carrier’s uterus through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Because the egg is another woman’s, the carrier has no genetic relation to the baby she is carrying.

More and more couples are turning to a gestational carrier to make their dream of parenthood come true. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), the number of babies born to gestational carriers grew 116 percent between 2004 and 2011.

As with traditional surrogates, the gestational carrier’s medical expenses are covered by the intended parents and the carrier is usually compensated for carrying the pregnancy.

To protect all parties involved, we require all intended parents and gestational carriers to seek legal counsel from a reproductive lawyer. A contract is drawn up with the expectations and rights of each party, as well as details on the delivery and future contact. The reproductive lawyer will also provide guidance on what states have laws regulating surrogacy and what states should be avoided due to negative or non-existent statues. It is strongly encouraged that the gestational carrier and intended parents have separate reproductive lawyers to minimize potential conflicts of interest.

Ready for Help with Fertility?

If you have questions about surrogacy or would like to discuss your options with a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, contact us today to schedule a consultation.