Male partner's fertility the problem in 40% of couples struggling to conceive
Recent studies indicate that male fertility rates are declining around the world.
Why is this happening and is there anything men can do to increase their chances of fathering a child?
Pippa Hudson speaks to Dr Paul le Roux, reproductive medicine specialist and chief executive officer of the Cape Fertility Clinic.
He says of the one in eight couples who struggle to conceive according to global statistics, 40% will be experiencing problems with the fertility of the male partner.
Male fertility is really a significant issue affecting people.Dr Paul le Roux, CEO and reproductive medicine specialist - Cape Fertility Clinic
Although there's no certainty about the specific reasons for the trend, a link with testicular cancer and environmental factors should be taken into account.
The exact cause is not known - people have looked at things like oestrogens in the water and various types of BPA - a chemical in plastic.Dr Paul le Roux, CEO and reproductive medicine specialist - Cape Fertility Clinic
Interestingly, there's also an increase in testicular cancer, which might be mirroring the change in male infertility.Dr Paul le Roux, CEO and reproductive medicine specialist - Cape Fertility Clinic
There tends to be a focus on the woman when couples are experiencing fertility challenges.
Le Roux believes this is a historical approach because it's the female, as the bearer of children, that's taken on the burden of fertility.
However, the reality is that many cases reflect a mix of problems with both partners or in fact an issue with the sperm.
There are many couples where the woman is automatically seen as being the responsible one when they can't get pregnant.Dr Paul le Roux, CEO and reproductive medicine specialist - Cape Fertility Clinic
The reproductive medicine specialist confirms that excessive smoking and alcohol intake affects fertility in both partners and advises moderation for couples who want to start a family.
In terms of the ability to get pregnant, it's not very clear that very small amounts of alcohol will cause problems, like one drink a day, but if you start drinking a few units every single day - three or four units - then it's definitely going to decrease your fertility.Dr Paul le Roux, CEO and reproductive medicine specialist - Cape Fertility Clinic
It's about moderation and if you're trying to have a baby you should try and be as healthy as possible - quit smoking and keep alcohol to a fair minimum, exercise, don't put on a lot weight.Dr Paul le Roux, CEO and reproductive medicine specialist - Cape Fertility Clinic
Dr le Roux points out that couples will also struggle more with fertility as a woman gets older, because age affects egg quality.
It's important for patients to have children when the woman is still young and to seek treatment early as well, if they're battlingDr Paul le Roux, CEO and reproductive medicine specialist - Cape Fertility Clinic
For more information about factors influencing fertility, take a listen: