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For a couple to conceive, the reproductive systems of both partners must be healthy and functioning properly. In other words, it takes two to tango. It’s often thought that fertility problems reside primarily with the female partner, but men can experience fertility issues as well. According to a study conducted by researchers in the US, “infertility affects an estimated 15% of couples globally… Males are found to be solely responsible for 20 – 30% of infertility cases and contribute to 50% of cases overall.”

That is why good fertility clinics test both partners for fertility issues.

“A man’s fertility generally relies on the quantity and quality of his sperm. If the number of sperm a man ejaculates is low or if the sperm are of poor quality, it will be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to cause a pregnancy,” according to Andrologyaustralia.org, a site dedicated to the health of the male reproductive system.

The US-based Mayo Clinic identifies the requirements for male fertility:

  • The sperm must be healthy. At least one of the testicles must be functioning correctly, and the body must produce testosterone and other hormones to trigger and maintain sperm production.
  • Sperm have to be carried into the semen. Tubes must transport the sperm from the testicles, where it’s produced, to be mixed with the semen and ejaculated.
  • There needs to be enough sperm in the semen. If the sperm count is low, the odds of the egg being fertilised will also be low. A low sperm count is fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen.
  • Sperm must be functional and able to move. The sperm must be able to reach and penetrate the egg in order to fertilise it. If the function or movement (referred to as motility) of the sperm is abnormal, the sperm may not be able to do this.

There are numerous health problems that can affect the quality and quantity of the sperm, ranging from prior surgeries to certain medications to hormone imbalances, ejaculation issues and undescended testicles.4 However, if the male partner has some kind of fertility issue, a good fertility specialist can identify the problem and determine which solution can help correct or overcome the issue.