The Truths About Male Infertility—Debunking Common Myths

When you’re trying to conceive, issues of male fertility are often overlooked. We examine some common notions about male infertility and how true they are.

By Sahajiya Halder
20 Aug 2021

Infertility is a significant global issue, with an estimated average of 48.5 million people affected by it worldwide. It is defined as the inability to conceive after a year or more of regular unprotected intercourse. A common misconception that is prevalent in popular consciousness is that infertility issues are solely a female concern. However, male infertility contributes in significant numbers to such cases. According to Dr. Priyank Salecha, consultant urologist and andrologist, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Hyderabad, “In my experience, nowadays, in maybe every 100 couples, 30 percent will have purely male factor (infertility), and in up to 40 percent there is both male and female factor (infertility)”.

Although reproductive health is an area of popular research, myths about the subject are widespread, rising from a lack of proper sex education. Male infertility is a topic not as frequently discussed, leading to a void of adequate awareness. Many factors can contribute to the inability to conceive, and with advancements of science, there are considerable options available to address your issues.


Some Common Notions About Male Fertility

1. Age Does Not Affect Male Fertility

Fertility in men actually starts seeing a decline after 40 years of age due to a gradual reduction in sperm count, although it is possible for men to contribute to pregnancy for many years. A study published in Fertility and Sterility suggests that the “time to pregnancy” rises and conception rate declines with the increased age of the male partner, affecting overall fertility. Dr. Salecha says, “Age definitely affects fertility, and also the profession and the number of years someone is working in that profession, that can contribute as age increases”.


2. Lifestyle Is A Factor

Your lifestyle habits can indeed impact your ability to father a child. Excessive drinking and smoking, or use of certain drugs, can negatively affect the number or quality of your sperms. Lack of adequate sleep and poor diet can also contribute to infertility.


3. Boxers Are Safer Than Briefs

Common advice given while trying to conceive is ditching your briefs in favour of boxers, as, according to popular belief, the tightness of briefs harms the testicles. But there is no conclusive evidence to suggest this is true. In fact, Dr. Salecha says, “In case of varicocele (enlargement of veins in the scrotum), boxers may deteriorate the condition. Wearing briefs is better because it gives good scrotal support.”

4. Mobile Phones Are Harmful For Your Fertility

Research suggests there might be some truth to this popular belief. A 2020 review of studies, published in the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences, says that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones may affect the motility and structure of sperms, leading to infertility. However, it depends on prolonged use, and the intensity of it.


5. Taking Testosterone Supplement Increases Sperm Count

Many people believe taking supplemental testosterone will increase their fertility, but the opposite is true. While supplements increase libido, they impact the body’s own production mechanism of the hormone, leading to lower sperm production.

6. Laptops Lead To Infertility

The ideal temperature of the scrotum is 35 degree Celsius, two degrees below the normal body temperature. The exposure to heat generated from laptops as a result of long hours of working with your device on your lap, leads to scrotal hyperthermia (increased temperature of the testes), which can affect fertility. An article published in the Journal of Biomedical Physics & Engineering suggests that use of laptops due to modern lifestyle can negatively impact male reproductive health.


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