Time To Focus On Male Fertility This Men's Health Week


16 June 2022

Dr Luke Larmour, Monash IVF Fertility Specialist, has urged Australian men to consider how their lifestyle habits and their genes could affect their future plans to become fathers, warning male infertility issues are more common than most men realise.

Dr Luke Larmour, an obstetrician, gynaecologist and Monash IVF fertility specialist, said Men’s Health Week (13-19 June) is a good opportunity for men to take positive steps to improve their fertility.

“One in six couples will have trouble conceiving and in 30 per cent of these cases the cause is what we call male factor,” Dr Larmour said.

“Yet when most people think of infertility, it’s often assumed it’s due to female fertility issues. However, research tells us that men also have a biological clock. With the average age of first-time dads in Australia now climbing to a record high of 33.6 it’s an issue that needs more focus."

“The fact is that after a woman’s age, male factor is the second most common reason a couple will have difficulty conceiving and it’s often something that men are reluctant to discuss. That needs to change.”

Male fertility problems could include low sperm count, erectile dysfunction or blockages - many of these fertility issues are treatable with expert help, allowing men to go on to have healthy children.

Dr Larmour’s top tips on how men can take charge of their fertility:

1. Quit smoking

Research has shown smoking decreases the quality of your sperm. Smoking affects the DNA in sperm, male hormones, and can contribute to impotence. Men who smoke also take longer to conceive than non-smokers. Quit smoking at least three months before trying to conceive.

2. Stay healthy

Take steps to improve your health, such as exercising regularly and eating healthy foods. Research has revealed a link between obesity and male infertility.

3. Avoid anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids can significantly impact sperm production and sperm quality. Some of their effects on fertility can be reversed – but there is limited research on their long term effects on fertility.

4. Have a fertility assessment

A semen analysis is the best way to assess male fertility. Performed in a specialised laboratory with experienced scientists, the analysis will look at the movement, shape, number and health of sperm. You can learn more about fertility health assessments here.

5. Undergo pre-conception genetic carrier screening

Monash IVF has launched a new at-home check swab test that screens for more than 400 conditions, including the three most common childhood genetic conditions - cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy and Fragile X syndrome. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends everyone planning pregnancy be offered genetic carrier screening. You can learn more about genetic carrier screening here.

“Men’s health discussions have come along way when it comes to conditions such as heart disease and prostate cancer, but male fertility is not talked about nearly enough,” Dr Larmour said.

“If you want to be a dad, and if you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, then it’s a conversation that you really need to have.”

About the author

Dr Luke Larmour is an Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist practicing in Bundoora, Clayton and Richmond in Victoria. You can book an appointment with him here.

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