Up to half of all fertility issues are male related. | Melbourne IVF

  • Male infertility affects almost half of all couples struggling to conceive.
  • A semen analysis is a simple test to undertake.
  • There are treatment options available to overcome male infertility.

The 'M' factor…

Conceiving a baby is influenced by a number of factors, including healthy sperm. After a woman's age, male infertility is the second biggest cause of pregnancy delay and affects almost half of all couples having trouble conceiving. Fortunately, the most common causes of male infertility are easily diagnosed and most can be treated or overcome to help a couple conceive. Read more on abnormal sperm production »

Try the online male fertility predictor

There are a number of ways you can improve the quality of your sperm to help achieve a successful pregnancy. To find out about the lifestyle and medical factors that could affect your fertility and for an indication of your sperm quality, answer a few quick questions using our online Male Fertility Predictor tool »

How do I improve my sperm quality?

Diet and lifestyle factors as well as some medical conditions can affect the quality of sperm. The life cycle of sperm is about 72 days, so with a few simple changes many men can improve their sperm health within just a few months.

Diet and lifestyle tips for men trying to conceive

  • Quit smoking and the use of recreational or body-building drugs
  • Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid binge drinking
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains─ olive oil should replace animal fats. Nutrients and vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, are renowned for their antioxidant qualities and are believed to improve sperm health
  • Take a men's multivitamin which contains zinc
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a Body Mass Index (BMI) in a normal range
  • Ejaculate regularly to avoid sperm being stored for too long in the ejaculatory ducts
  • Avoid frequent exposure to extreme heat (such as working in hot temperatures or taking regular hot baths or saunas)

Medical Conditions

  • Speak to your General Practitioner about any medical conditions that may have an impact on your fertility, such as undescended testes, STDs or mumps. Acute viral illness can affect sperm quality – if you've been unwell, you may need to wait three months for the sperm quality to recover.

Read more about improving your sperm health »

What causes male infertility?

Infertility is defined as a couple not conceiving after 12 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. For men, infertility is diagnosed when, after testing of both partners, reproductive problems have been found in the male partner.

Assessment of a man's fertility is primarily achieved through a semen analysis. This is a relatively simple test that assesses the sperm quality, quantity and shape. To understand what our fertility specialists are looking for when this test is required, it helps to understand the basics of sperm production and ejaculation.

The most common types of male infertility are:

  • Low sperm number
  • High numbers of abnormally shaped sperm
  • Poor sperm production

Less common types of male infertility include blocked or absent vas deference (tubes), anti-sperm antibodies, sperm DNA fragmentation or failure of sperm production.

Preparing for your semen analysis

A semen analysis is a relatively simple test used to evaluate a man's fertility. In fact, around 1,000 Australian men every month are doing it. The test provides an accurate measurement of the size, shape and volume of the sperm.

  1. Organising a semen analysis: Visit your GP for a referral to Melbourne IVF for a semen analysis or book an appointment with a Melbourne IVF fertility specialist.
  2. Producing a semen sample: You will be required to produce a semen sample by masturbation, after at least two but no more than five days abstinence. You may produce your semen sample at home and then deliver the container to the laboratory within one hour. Alternatively, you can produce the sample in a discrete room at our Melbourne IVF clinics located in East Melbourne, Mt Waverley or Box Hill.
  3. Semen analysis in a specialised laboratory: Our andrology scientists will assess the semen sample analysing the number of sperm, motility (proportion of sperm that can swim) and morphology (size and shape). An average male's sperm count is at least 15 million sperm per ml, with ideally a third displaying good forward motility. If the andrologist finds abnormalities, they will carry out further investigation to identify the nature and degree of any issues.
  4. Explanation of results: Your GP or Melbourne IVF fertility specialist will then explain your test results to you. Since sperm have a lifecycle of around 72 days, if the results indicate that there may be a problem with the sperm, improvements in diet and lifestyle may have a positive impact. There are treatments available that can allow you to still conceive if you have a low sperm count, poor sperm movement, or high numbers of abnormally shaped sperm. These treatment options will be discussed with you in a consultation with your fertility specialist.

Treating male infertility

In addition to diet and lifestyle changes that can improve the quality of the sperm, there are fertility treatments available that a fertility specialist can undertake to make the best use of the sperm you do have to achieve a pregnancy.

IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is an advanced form of in-vitro fertilisation that involves injecting a single sperm into an egg using very fine micromanipulation equipment. ICSI is usually recommended for couples where male infertility is a problem, especially relating to the number or quality of sperm produced.  ICSI can also be used in cases where a man has had a vasectomy. Read more about how ICSI works »

Microsurgical procedures is also an option for some men, including the reversal of a vasectomy and sperm retrieval procedures. Read more about male fertility surgery »

Should we see a fertility specialist?

If you're trying to conceive you should visit your General Practitioner who will carry out tests to ensure you're both in good physical health and provide pre-conception advice.

If you haven't fallen pregnant, and have been trying to conceive for twelve months without success, (or 6 months if you are over 36), you can choose to see your local GP for initial investigations including requesting a semen analysis, or organise a couple's fertility assessment with a Melbourne IVF fertility specialist. Your GP can refer you to a fertility specialist at Melbourne IVF if your semen analysis result is abnormal.

At Melbourne IVF we not only offer IVF but a range of treatment options – from the simple to advanced – such as ovulation cycle tracking, ovulation induction and insemination. A Melbourne IVF fertility specialist can assess both of you and offer treatment if necessary.

If you would like to discuss whether seeing a fertility specialist is right for you call our Community Liaison Administrators on 1800 111 483 or email us »