Like a lot of things when it comes to our genitals, male fertility is still quite often misunderstood. There’s also a huge stigma surrounding it.
To hammer home the point, a new report called The Fertility Index – from men’s health clinic London Andrology – found just over a third (34%) of people in the UK think there is more of a stigma around male fertility than female.
And despite conception being a combined effort for both parties involved, it also found that only one in five people (19%) think those providing the sperm are responsible when it comes to making a baby.
Here are some of the biggest myths experts in male fertility want to clear up.
Myth 1: Vasectomies mean no more kids
Let’s start with probably the most eye-opening myth: having a vasectomy stops you from having any more children, forever.
Surgeons Tet Yap and Professor Suks Minhas, from London Andrology, explained this is not entirely true.
The voluntary procedure allows men to continue having sex without fears of having more children (it’s 99% effective), but sometimes people change their mind.
In this instance, vasectomies can be reversed with a “fairly simple operation”, according to the experts, although sometimes factors – like how long ago the operation took place, and the age of the patient – can make it harder to undo.
But all hope is not lost. Men can still get sperm aspirated before an IVF cycle – that’s where sperm is removed from the testicle via a needle under local anaesthetic.
It’s worth noting that vasectomy reversals are rarely funded by the NHS.
Myth 2: Having a normal sperm count means you’re fertile
Yap and Minhas explained that infertility can be affected by a number of things, not just sperm count. This includes:
- Structural issues linked to the testes
- Sperm concentration
- Sperm mobility (swimming ability)
- Sperm shape
So having the right amount of sperm doesn’t guarantee you’re on the cusp of making a baby.
Myth 3: You need sperm in the ejaculate to conceive
This is another confusing one, as the specialists claim 1% of men don’t have sperm in their ejaculate (that’s, ahem, what usually comes out during a male sexual climax).
This might be due to a blockage or sperm production issues.
Half of the time this is fixable through various procedures. Specialists can also harvest sperm from testicles with a needle, too.
Myth 4: You can’t boost your sperm count
Being overweight negatively impacts it as well, as does being overly sedentary (such as working from home and not leaving your desk for eight hours).
But, don’t go too crazy on the exercise – cycling especially risks overheating testicles and threatening your sperm. So it’s best to stick to an hour a few times a week to give your swimmers a boost.
Myth 5: Fertility issues are linked to women
This is the kind of myth the infamous King Henry VIII liked to stand by, and one that pops up again and again in history, often accompanied by the threat of a woman’s “ticking biological clock”.
But remember that it takes two to tango. And global trends show sperm counts and concentration have declined.
Counts dropped by 1.2% per year between 1973 and 2000. Between 2000 and 2018, this increased to 2.6% per year – meaning getting the facts right on male fertility is more important than ever.