Of all fertility issues it is thought to be male infertility causing the problem in 40-50% of cases. But male infertility is a complicated thing so we’ve got a straightforward breakdown of all the statistics and maths involved.
First of all, there are four factors to male infertility:
- Sperm motility
- Sperm viability
- Sperm count
- Testosterone level
These factors work together to make up a man’s fertility and all are just as important.
Motile is similar to “mobile” – it means the sperm can move. There are four categories of sperm motility: forward moving sperm, zig-zagging sperm, non-progressive sperm and non-motile sperm. As you might have guessed, the last three are not going to get the job done.
Men need at least 50% of their sperm to be properly motile, forward-moving sperm.
Viable sperm are live and healthy, which is what we want. There are all sorts of issues that can affect sperm. They could be dead or not formed properly. Even if they are live they might be damaged and unable to make it to the egg, or have defective DNA and not be able to fertilise the egg.
60% of sperm need to be viable for normal fertility.
When it comes to sperm count the numbers might seem massive but every little helps. A healthy sperm count is 20-40 million sperm per millilitre. A “low” sperm count is classed as below 15 million per millilitre. But, reflecting overall falling levels of sperm, a low count used to be 20 million, now considered normal.
The male sex hormone testosterone controls all sorts of bodily functions including sex drive and stamina. It also triggers the body to produce sperm. The more testosterone, the more sperm. Testosterone production is very sensitive though, so low testosterone production means less sperm being made too.
It all adds up to a big problem. Nowadays up to a fifth of young men are thought to have low fertility and sperm counts are dropping worldwide. There are also many factors that can affect sperm motility, viability and count, and testosterone levels and we’ll look at those next week – along with scientific studies and what you can do to protect your boys.
Did you know all the factors and statistics on male infertility?
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