Male infertility on the rise, difficult to address

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Male infertility is increasing and it is more difficult to arrest than female infertility.
Dr. Raymond Mansoor, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC), made the point on OBSERVER AM yesterday as Antigua and Barbuda commemorates Infertility Awareness Week.
In emphasising that infertility in males is steadily increasing, Mansoor said: “The male factor has now reached the point where it has its own category of infertility. We do have a sense that the average sperm count has declined in the last 40 to 50 years.”
He explained that statistics, proving the decline, came from studies which compared the average sperm counts between 30-year periods.
 “[The study] found that the sperm count of the average healthy 19-year-old male had declined by 10 million,” Mansoor stressed, adding that the “male factor of infertility is more difficult to treat as there is a lot less research in the male … than the female”.
He said that until recently, the study of male infertility was not something rigorous.
He highlighted that a lot of initial work was done on the female factor but companies did not invest much into the study of male infertility which was then considered a small problem. This, he said, has led to numerous cases of unknown causes of male infertility.
Mansoor, however, noted that the decrease in male fertility is suspected to be multi-factorial and may be due to climate change, diet, or even medication, among other factors.
Social Worker at the MSJMC, Koren Norton, who also participated in yesterday’s radio programme, said that in addition to the lack of research, male infertility is difficult to address due to social factors and culture.
“Males are difficult when it comes to getting assistance, as they are not often as open about issues of infertility as women,” Norton explained. “Men would refuse an inspection with a doctor.”
Norton described addressing male infertility as a “challenge” because many males would prefer not to speak about these issues in fear of being told they are “shooting blanks” by friends.
Infertility Awareness Week is aimed at changing how both males and females view infertility and educating people who may be experiencing challenges with respect to their fertility.

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