Couples having trouble getting pregnant need to look beyond the age-old myth that infertility is just a women’s problem and consider testing for male infertility issues, says Cara Cimmino, M.D., urologist and male infertility expert with Piedmont Physicians Urology Specialists.
“For years, people believed infertility was a women’s problem but research continues to show us that male infertility is just as common,” said Dr. Cimmino, who earned her medical degree from the University of Michigan. “Half of all infertility cases are due, in part, to male infertility issues. Approximately 30 percent of infertility cases are caused by male factors alone, and another 20 percent of cases are a combination of male and female factors.”
Dr. Cimmino says medical issues, environmental factors and lifestyle choices all play a role in male infertility. For example, men who smoke and drink alcohol have a significantly lower sperm count than those who do not, which can lead to infertility, according to the National Institutes of Health. Male infertility also is caused by birth defects, cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, obesity and more.
“With at least 15 percent of couples struggling to have a child, infertility is a prevalent and frustrating issue for many people who hope to become parents someday,” said Dr. Cimmino. “It is important that couples time intimacy correctly and have intercourse leading up to and during ovulation.”
Couples who have been trying to get pregnant for more than 12 months should seek advice from a specialist, says Dr. Cimmino. If testing confirms that male infertility is an issue, doctors can work with couples on a solution.
“Couples facing infertility should know that there is still hope,” said Dr. Cimmino, who also treats low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s Disease and works to preserve fertility in male cancer patients. “Today, there are a number of therapies and surgeries to help them start the family they have been wanting.”