It’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), and, at Trak Fertility, we are thrilled to join Resolve, our partners, customers, and the entire fertility community to help #FlipTheScript and change how others view infertility. Let’s start by correcting a few of the most common misconceptions about male fertility:
If you are surprised by the above statements, you are not alone. Too many couples don’t understand the role men play in the (in)fertility process, nor do they understand what men can do to improve a couple’s chances at conception. And it’s not surprising considering that a few anatomy diagrams shown to elementary students and jokes about good swimmers and family jewels is all many men (and women) have to go on.
The reality is that the state of male fertility is alarming and the disparity between services for men and women struggling with infertility is vast. But even as male infertility rates continue to climb, fertility conversations, recommendations and solutions still revolve around the female partner. She’s the one tracking her cycle, going on a fertility diet and taking prenatal vitamins. She is talking with her OB/GYN, researching fertility treatment options and is almost always the first to undergo fertility testing. She is also more likely to be seeking out and receiving emotional support while the male partner often ends up isolated, stressed, physically and emotionally shell-shocked on his path to fatherhood. *
And the discrepancies don’t stop there.
- There are over 35,000 OB/GYNS and over 1,000 Reproductive Endocrinologists in the US. There are only 283 urologists focused on male infertility.
- At any given time there are between 50 and 70 fertility tracking apps on the market for women. There is only one app for men.
- There are dozens if not hundreds of fertility coaches in the US offering services for women and couples. There is only one fertility coaching service exclusively for men.
- Insurance coverage still has a long way to go for both men and women, but the situation is worse for men: only 9 US States mandate male fertility coverage compared to 15 for women.
- 1 in 5 men suffers from a low sperm count yet recommendations around when to seek testing and treatment are still solely based on female age and time trying to conceive.
I could go on.
Instead, let’s talk about what we can do about it.
Let’s make fertility his AND her pursuit.
If you are planning or struggling to become pregnant, educate yourselves about female AND male fertility. When it comes to the male side, Trak Fertility has you covered. Our Trak blog and Dont Cook Your Balls educational website are great places to learn about male fertility, reproductive health and sexual health. The American Urology Association, Resolve and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine also have great resources to help you learn about and male fertility.
Troubleshoot infertility together. Male fertility is just as affected by diet, exercise, stress and toxins as female fertility. There are also male-specific therapies such as testicular cooling which have been proven to improve sperm count and therefore shorten time to conception. Also, did you know that guys can track and improve their sperm count? They can! And by doing this they can better understand their fertility including what medical and lifestyle interventions might be causing improvement or decline in their sperm count. Guys, if you’re curious if your current health and habits could be putting you at risk for infertility the Trak: Sperm Health & Fertility App can help you figure it out. It’s totally free, and will help you identify your potential risks and give you personalized recommendations on how to boost your fertility and maximize your sperm production.
Find ways to communicate, cope and get support as a couple or separately. Find a comfortable way to express your needs, fears and frustrations with your partner - journal, write letters, walk and talk, text - any communication is good communication! At the same time honor your differences, as each of you will likely feel different things at different times and cope in different ways. Guys, if you are struggling emotionally or if you are looking for a private place to discuss male fertility, ask questions and learn about your fertility, sexual and reproductive health check out the Don’t Cook Your Balls community or chat one on one via text with a Trak male fertility coach.
And, finally, ladies and guys, learn more about what you can do to protect, improve and address male fertility. To help you, Trak and our amazing partners are giving away an Ultimate Fertility Prize for Guys that includes over $1,500 in fertility swag - products and solutions that will help you tackle male fertility at home. The more you learn the more entries you get!
About the Author
Stephanie Fry is an infertility survivor, advocate, author of The IVF Journal and mother to one incredible IVF miracle. She was first diagnosed with infertility in 2005 and since then has worked personally and professionally with infertility patients, health care providers and fertility-focused businesses from all over the world including as Director of Corporate Partnerships at Resolve New England. She is currently Trak Fertility’s Director of Marketing.