Since the times, when couples face infertility issues, people generally assume it’s the woman’s fault. However, going by new information, this perception needs to change as male infertility is currently on the rise in Nigeria.
According to fertility expert Dr Abayomi Ajayi, the CEO of Nordica Fertility Centre, one out of three cases of infertility is caused by the man alone. Half the time, the man shares the problem with the woman; couples are advised to visit fertility clinics together when faced with the problem of infertility.
While speaking to journalists in Abuja, Dr Ajayi said that couples who’ve had unprotected intercourse consistently for 12 months and are trying to have a baby should visit a fertility hospital for evaluation. However, couples over 35 should seek a medical evaluation after six months of trying to get pregnant.
Dr Ajayi noted that by sperm analysis, sperm health is declining globally but even more so in Nigeria. According to studies conducted in America and Europe, sperm count has reduced by 50% within 40 years. However, in a study done in Nigeria, sperm count has decreased by 30 percent in only ten years.
Ajayi emphasized the importance of not conflating sex drive and potency with fertility since many male infertility concerns have nothing to do with their capacity to create male hormones or sex drive and performance.
He said that infections, trauma, and undescended testicles are some leading factors of male infertility. The Dr also added that while some men are born infertile (hereditary), excessive alcohol, hard drugs, obesity, and pollution can also contribute to male infertility.
Men who are painters or work in the paint business, in fuel stations for an extended period, long-distance truck drivers, and motorcycle (okada) riders, according to Ajayi, are susceptible to infertility because their testes are exposed to high temperatures.
He also added that lifestyle modifications are one of the major ways to reverse male infertility.
“Some sports like cycling, over a long period of time can lead also to low sperm count, also, people who are exposed to toxic materials like fertiliser and so on. The truth of the matter is that we don’t know everything that causes male infertility because if you want to enumerate everything, almost everything will cause male infertility. We are still looking at specifics because almost everything has been attributed, including toothpaste. But I don’t want to bring that up so that men would not stop brushing their mouths and say it’s because I said so”.
“Men infertility is still something we are learning a lot about the cause, we don’t know everything that causes male infertility‘ the obstetrician and gyneacologist said. “But those are the risk factors; we don’t know what causes male infertility because almost everything has been incriminated. We are getting more knowledge about male factor infertility”. We used to think that all the man needs to do is to fertilize the eggs and everything is finished but we are now seeing that the quality of the sperm also determines the quality of the embryo that is formed, whether in the bed or in the laboratory and the chances of the embryo become a baby,” he said.
Dr Ajayi also warned against the consumption of sexual enhancement drugs by as it causes long term fertility problems.
He said, “Some young men take all kinds of drugs in other to shift woman’s womb, but they might be shifting their sperms too. Hard drugs and all these drugs that they use for testosterone are destructive to sperm count too.”
While noting, “Sometimes, men will start using prescriptions after their wives consult doctors over low sperm count,” he said, “It is only a few men that the drugs are beneficial to.”
Finally, Ajayi enjoined men with inherited fertility to explore IVF to have their own children.
“We need to be talking about lifestyle changes for our young men so that we can prevent to some extent, male factor infertility. The other things are not really in our control.
“If you inherited a low sperm count, there is nothing anybody can do; it is not the same if it is because of whatever you are doing either knowingly or unknowingly.
Apart from raising awareness, we also need to table the solution. Probably the solution might be to prevent rather than to treat. That’s why the lifestyle factors are very important to young. We saw in a study that when you are obese, you are likely to be two and half times predisposed to not having sperm count than when you have an ideal body weight. Obesity is one of the things we need to curb in young men. Of course, there are some habits too to curb.
For example, cigarette smoking and hard drugs, also affect sperm count. We see now that our young people indulge in those things, it’s likely to have effects on their fertility over time.”
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