Half of couples seeking IVF are due to sperm problems
RESEARCH published today by the organiser's of the Fertility Show, taking place in London, shows that in nearly half (47pc) of all couples who have been told that their infertility is a result of male factor, it is the woman who has to undergo treatment.
There is growing evidence that lifestyle factors smoking, drinking, diet, exercise and the use of recreational drugs - can be behind problems with a man's sperm. By tackling these, a man's fertility can be boosted and in some cases risky and expensive fertility treatment for their partners can be averted.
One of the popular myths surrounding infertility is that if a couple can't get pregnant, it is the woman's 'fault'. The reality is that men are the cause of problems in nearly half of all cases, according to HFEA statistics.
For women, IVF often involves daily self-injection of drugs to stimulate the ovaries and the accompanying risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can be severe.
Amongst nearly 60 leading fertility specialists speaking at the show this year, Senior Lecturer in Andrology at the University of Sheffield, Dr Allan Pacey, presents a talk titled "What men need to know about their fertility testing it, boosting it, treating it". Last year his sessions were packed.
Dr Pacey said, "I'm seeing an increasing number of couples where men's lifestyle issues are the problem. Men should be taking this seriously - they underestimate the impact of what they're doing. The issue is you can't stop smoking or taking a line of coke on a Friday and see a result on the Monday. The problem is that men always say they had a mate who partied a lot and he had kids. But everyone is different - he may have had testicles the size of a house. Or his wife might be extra fertile".
Susan Seenan, deputy chief executive of patient support group Infertility Network UK said "In some cases, men can improve the quality of their sperm by making changes to their lifestyle and possibly avoid the need for couples to undergo fertility treatment. Where a couple does still need fertility treatment, then improving sperm quality can also help improve the chances of success so men should definitely come along and find out what they can do to boost their fertility"
The show this year has a whole of series of seminars dedicated to informing men how they can boost their fertility. The key message is that if a couple is struggling to conceive naturally, it's no longer just up to the women to get in shape.