When couples begin trying to conceive, they usually start paying a lot more attention to the inner workings of their physical bodies. The female body in particular is an awesomely fascinating thing, and learning about the rhythms of our fertility can be really empowering. But the need for knowledge doesn't end there; a couple must understand male fertility as well as female, because if complications to conception arise, they could be in either party. So let's learn a little more about male fertility, right? For starters, do men have a most fertile day each month?
The answer is no. Dr. Ralph Esposito, Naturopathic Physician and Licensed Acupuncturist who specializes in men's health, tells Romper, "Unlike women who have monthly cycles, men have daily cycles, where testosterone levels and other fertility hormones called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are highest in the early morning." So does that mean men are more fertile in the morning? Not necessarily, says Esposito, although a man might have the most sexual drive at that time of day.
Esposito's assessment is confirmed by an interview with Dr. Aaron Styer, Reproductive Endocrinologist, who tells Romper, "Although new sperm is created every 60 to 72 days in the male testes, men are not more fertile at a specific time of the month (or day, for that matter)."
Styer continues on to explain that, "Just as FSH and LH direct ovulation in women, the same hormones direct the development and production of sperm in the testes. However, several external factors may influence a man’s fertility potential."
So what are those external factors? It turns out, there's a lot of them. Dr. Shaun Williams of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut tells Romper that the factors he spends the most time examining in a client are: Age — "sperm quality begins to deteriorate by the age of 40 and significantly after 60 years of age," nutrition — "obesity and excess weight can lead to metabolic health conditions which can cause erectile dysfunction," smoking — "introduces toxins into the body that can damage DNA in the developing sperm," drug use — "restrict blood flow to the testes and over time can cause permanent erectile dysfunction," and excessive caffeine — "we recommend no more than 300 milligrams per day for men, and 150 milligrams per day is best."
If you see a lot of red lights flashing in that paragraph, don't be disheartened. Williams says that men can improve the quality and quantity of their sperm simply by improving their health and habits for 90 days.
According to the Urology Care Foundation (UCF), 13 out of every 100 couples struggle to get pregnant. Of those couples, over one-third of the cases find their cause on the man's side of things. UCF reports that most often the problem is with the sperm production or with sperm delivery.
You may be wondering how male fertility troubles are diagnosed. According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are four tests that are commonly used to assess a man's fertility, including semen analysis, blood tests, making a culture of fluid from the penis, and/or a physical examination of the penis, scrotum, and prostate. These tests are looking for volume of semen produced, sperm count, morphology (the size and shape of sperm), and motility (the movement and number of active cells in the sperm).
Although waiting for that positive pregnancy test can feel like an eternity, it's important to remember that achieving conception can take longer than you think. Standard medical wisdom advises couples under 35 to be evaluated for infertility after trying to conceive for an entire year, and six months for those over 40, unless there is other cause for concern. So if it has been less time than that, have patience. And maybe make use of that early morning hormone surge.
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