Male Infertility: Facts, stats and where to go for help | Bright Horizons

Fertility Network chief executive, Gwenda Burns, looks at male fertility and the importance of getting men to talk about problems

Fertility is firmly a male issue. Data from the fertility regulator the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show that for around half of couples who are having problems conceiving, the cause of infertility is sperm-related. ICSI is the most common and successful treatment for male infertility.

Just As Distressing for Men

Infertility is also as emotionally distressing and isolating for men as it is for women. For the majority of men that suffer it impacts their wellbeing, relationships and mental health as well as their work.

Some men describe it as not only being upsetting but also 'emasculating' with little equality in terms of approach and sensitivity as women get.

Talking Tackle

Us Brits are not very good at talking about what goes on between the sheets or down south. But, with infertility affecting around 1 in 6 couples in the UK, it's time to break the silence and talk tackle. Change is happening increasing numbers of men are talking publicly about their experience of infertility, including comedian Rhod Gilbert and racing driver and FNUK ambassador Toby Trice. 

Support options are also improving. Noting there was a lack of support for men experiencing male fertility issues, the HIMfertility campaign was set up by comedian Rhod Gilbert, to encourage men to talk about fertility problems and signpost them and their partners to much-needed help. Fertility Network UK, the leading patient charity, hosts a male-only Facebook support group and HIMFertility monthly online meetings. For details see

Causes of Male Factor Infertility

Male infertility has a variety of causes. Problems with sperm delivery are common and can be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), injury, and varicoceles. Another common issue is sperm production or function problems, which may be related to STIs or undescended testicles. Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, steroids, and age can also play a role.

If you have been trying unsuccessfully for a baby for 12 months, you should see your GP. However, if you have any of the following problems you should visit your GP straight away:

  • undescended testicles
  • injury or trauma to the testicles
  • sexually transmitted infections

Your GP should examine you and arrange for you to have a semen analysis. If necessary, your GP will then refer you to a fertility specialist who may arrange for further tests. You will then be able to decide on the best treatment to help you to conceive.

Limited Options

Unfortunately, there are still very limited options for treatment of male fertility problems, with nothing that can be prescribed. ICSI is used to select a normal sperm for fertilisation, but this does not solve the problem of male infertility. Given this, it is more important than ever that men are supported in their struggles.

Fertility Network is the national patient-focused fertility charity here for anyone experiencing fertility struggles whatever stage of your journey. #YouAreNotAlone

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