The sperm count in Western men decreased by nearly 60% from 1973 to 2011, according to a recent study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem involving 42,935 subjects. Surprisingly, the study also found that men from South America, Africa and Asia maintained a healthy sperm count over this period. It is important to note that most reproductive health experts agree with this disturbing study largely because it used quality analytical techniques unlike previous studies of the topic.
An Overview of Male Infertility in the UK
Low sperm count and poor sperm quality could lead to other serious health complications including testicular cancer and even premature death, according to Aleksander Giwercman, Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the Lund University. Additionally, low sperm count of one of the main causes of infertility among men, meaning Western men are becoming increasingly infertile. In fact, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), male infertility is one of the most common reproductive issues in the UK, affecting about 40% of couples who can’t conceive. At this point, it is worth noting that data from NICE shows that infertility affects one in every couples in the UK.
Impact of Male Infertility – Study
Despite men accounting for 40% of infertility cases, infertility is traditionally viewed as a “woman’s problem,” in the UK, meaning male infertility is largely a taboo topic. As a result, many infertile men are often unable to talk about their own infertility and the impact it has on their lives. Put another way, male infertility can be a stressful and difficult experience for a man to go through. What’s more, men generally find fertility diagnosis and treatment highly distressing. More specifically, a recent study by Esmée Hanna and Brendan Gough, researchers at the Leeds Beckett University, found that male infertility can be an extremely stressful and difficult experience for a man. Most men who took part in this study, which was published in the May 26 of the SAGE journals, reported feelings of despair and sadness.
Inspired by their first study, Esmée Hanna and Brendan Gough conducted a follow-up with the aim of delving deeper into men’s experiences in regards to male infertility. Conducted in collaboration with Fertility Network UK, the follow-up study involved getting infertile men to fill out a questionnaire containing a series of open-ended questions about infertility journeys. Most of the respondents said infertility had affected their mental wellbeing, causing them to suffer from illnesses related to stress, grief, anxiety and depression. Moreover, most of the respondents said that it took considerable emotional energy to the negative feelings such as feelings of inadequacy, emasculation and grief. Such feelings often make it difficult to deal with male fertility issues.
Silence and Stigma
In most cases, the stigma ongoing stigma surrounding male infertility causes many men to suffer in silence. What’s more, male infertility can create problems between couples, further complicating the situation for men. Thankfully, more and more men are willing to share their experiences and tell their stories, especially on online support forums. These forums are important because they provide understanding, camaraderie and understanding that may be lacking in the real world.
Research has shown that male infertility often leads to psychological disorders. For this reason, health care workers should consider a man’s emotions and perspectives during the process of infertility diagnosis and treatment.