Worried you might be like a jaffa orange – seedless? Check the facts before you worry about your fertility.
Fertility Myth #1: Laptops kill sperm
It’s true! The heat generated by just one hour spent with an iBook perched on your groin will raise your testicle temperature by almost 3* (degrees C). Yep, hotter than a lap dance, a laptop will cook your goolies to a point that – according to the State University of New York – can adversely affect sperm production. Now if you don’t do any typing in public or on the move don’t think that your balls are totally cool either. “Your testicles dangle outside your body because they need to stay cooler that the rest of your body,” says Wanda Georgiades of CARE Fertility, the UK’s leading independent fertility specialists. “But we see plenty of fertility issues in men who sit for long periods getting hot under the belt – like taxi and long-distance lorry drivers.”
Fertility Myth #2: Conception gets easier after your first child
It’s a myth. It’s an old wives’ tale that says kids are like Pringles – once you’ve popped one you just can’t stop. “Secondary infertility is just as common as primary infertility,” confirms Dr Gillian Lockwood, Medical Director of Midland Fertility Services with a little more delicacy. “It is the case that a successful pregnancy, even if it required IVF to achieve it, can be followed by spontaneous conceptions – often because of changes in the mother’s hormonal balance.” But when it comes to our sperm, fathering one nipper doesn’t mean you’ll swiftly knock out enough for a relay team in time for the 2024 Olympics.
Fertility Myth #3: Fat blokes have more fertility problems than thin ones
It’s true! At least one in 10 infertility problems in men may be weight related. “Being overweight has also been associated with reduced sperm count and more abnormal sperm,” warns Adam Balen, Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Leeds General Infirmary. Balen blames this, in part, on the fact that excess body fat affects the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) – an essential cog in successful sperm production of in men. To raise your count Balen suggests you try to aim for a Body Mass Index of between 18.5 and 25.
Fertility Myth #4: It’s all about the position you have sex in…
It’s a myth. “There’s no evidence to suggest sexual position effects the chances of a pregnancy,” says Paul Wilson, Laboratory Manager at CARE Fertility in Northampton. “But it would make for an interesting research project!” Instead, Wilson reckons it’s all in your timing. “Sex should not – as some people think – be limited to a three day window in the middle of the woman’s ovulation. It’s her most fertile period, true, but that can vary from cycle to cycle.” For the man the timing is crucial too – don’t leave it too long between attempts to conceive. “Abstinence affects the overall number of sperm present,” he says. “But have sex too soon after your last attempt and you can get a reduced sperm count too.” That’s because your body hasn’t had time to replenish the stocks. So what does Wilson recommend? “An abstinence period of between 2-5 days at the most – after five days you should remove the ‘old stock’ altogether.” Tissue anyone?
Fertility Myth #5: Soya can short-circuit sperm
It’s true! Deep within the vegetarian’s staple foodstuff lies, possibly, sperm’s worst enemy, sabotaging your seed as they individually swim towards the egg. The problem is an oestrogen-like compound called genistein – the same stuff in hops that’s been linked with man boobs incidentally. Two separate studies from 2005 showed a possible link between soya and low fertility levels in men. “There’s certainly a chance that men who ingest high levels of these oestrogen-like compounds will notice reduced libido and declining fertility,” warns Dr Gillian Lockwood, Medical Director of Midland Fertility Services. However, defenders of the tofu point to countries such as Japan where soya is popular but infertility levels in men aren’t an issue. If you’re a concerned veggie opt for soya-free alternatives and be sure to pop a zinc supplement – since the average non-meat eater needs about 50 percent more zinc in their diet than carnivores.
Fertility Myth #6: Infertility is incurable
It’s a myth. Like red phone boxes and Gordon Brown’s popularity, sperm count is dwindling rapidly – but all hope is not lost. While the bad news is that, in the last 25 years the average European male’s count has dropped by a quarter the good news is that 95% of men can be treated. “Just a few years ago the only treatment was donor sperm. But new methods such as ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), where a single sperm is used to fertilize and egg, have transformed the management of male infertility,” says Wilson. To avoid becoming part of a trend Wilson suggests young men cut out smoking, cut down on drinking and steer clear hot baths – no matter how many chalet girls are sharing the tub.
Fertility Myth #7: Fertility problems determine the sex of your baby
It’s true! If you’re struggling for a son and heir, fear not – the longer you have to try for one the higher your chances it’ll be a boy. According to research by Maastrict University in the Netherlands, for each additional year of trying to get pregnant the possibility of having a male baby goes up by 4%. Why? It may be down to the stickiness of the mucus in a woman’s cervix which may be a factor in infertility. Apparently, the stickier the mucus, the harder it is for sperm carrying the X chromosome (which leads to the birth of girls) to make it to the egg. Sperm carrying the male Y chromosome are lighter and faster so have more of a chance.
Fertility Myth #8: Fertility drugs mean multiple pregnancies
It’s a myth. There may well have been a time when you walked into an IVF clinic childless and walked out with quintuplets and a sponsorship deal from Pampers but not any more. “Multiple births are possible with ovulation-inducing drugs like Clomiphene but only if the treatment isn’t monitored properly,” insists Wilson. “Licensed clinics now routinely replace just two embryos into the womb and there’s a move to reduce that to one.”
Fertility Myth #9: Only women have a biological clock
It’s a myth. Des O’Connor – a new dad at 72 – might still have lead in his pencil but new research by the University of California shows that putting off have a child until later in life carries risks for men as well as women. The study showed that men who father children after the age of 50 are four times as likely to father a child with a serious birth defect due to changes in sperm quality. What’s more, a study from Bristol University shows that even for a fertile couple, the likelihood of taking more than a year to conceive doubles when the man is over 35. Better get to it then.
Source: Men’s Health