Progyny recognizes that infertility does not discriminate, impacting both men and women equally. This Men’s Health Week, we hosted a very important conversation designed to bring more attention, focus, and support to male-factor infertility. In this webinar we discuss what to know about male fertility, male-factor infertility diagnosis and treatment options, as well as some tips on how people with sperm can support their reproductive health. We hope this conversation helps you feel supported wherever you are on your journey.
This webinar featured:
- Liam Gallagher, Manager of Business Operations at Progyny
- Claudia Zimmerman, Senior Director, Provider Account Management at Progyny
- Dr. Ajay Nangia, Reproductive Urologist, Progyny Network Provider
What to Know About Male Infertility
People who produce sperm are just as likely to experience fertility challenges as people who have ovaries. Approximately 40% of infertility cases are due to male infertility (either the sole cause, or a contributing factor1). Regardless of this equity, there is still a large gap of knowledge around male infertility, and many couples and individuals are surprised by their diagnosis. There are many educational resources that can help on this journey, including Progyny’s website (such as our Male Fertility Resource Center), and the This is Infertility podcast. For the Progyny member, you will also receive one on one support from your dedicated Patient Care Advocate (PCA), who is there for you every step of the way – from understanding your financial responsibility, to learning what to expect at your first clinic visit. In addition to PCA support, Progyny’s provider search tool is also a great resource to find the best provider for you and get started on your journey.
Diagnosis and Treatment Paths
A common barrier that providers see in the male infertility space is patients pushing off care and intervention until the issue is further along. When individuals take the first step in seeking care for male fertility, they will meet with a reproductive urologist – a doctor specialized in the male reproductive track. The initial consultation helps reproductive urologists understand more about potential underlying issues. You will discuss your family building goals and may have an in-depth physical evaluation. In addition to the medical evaluation, your reproductive urologist may order laboratory tests. These tests will check hormone levels and may include an ultrasound, genetic testing, and sperm testing. These different tests are extremely important and can help providers determine production problems, blockages, a hormonal disease, or a genetic condition.
There are many different reasons for a male-factor infertility diagnosis. Some causes can be addressed with lifestyle changes, while others come with little to no explanation. Some common causes include:
- Lifestyle choices, including excessive alcohol and illicit drug use or overheating the testicles (hot tubs, saunas)
- Anatomic conditions such as varicoceles of the testicle
- Hormonal abnormalities that impact a semen analysis
- Genetic conditions that may impact sperm production
- Unexplained conditions
To learn more about causes and treatment paths, check out our resource on frequently asked questions around reproductive urology: Reproductive Urology FAQ | Progyny
How to Support Your Reproductive Health
While not all causes of infertility are under one’s control, there are several lifestyle modifications that are recommended to those beginning their family building journeys:
- Stop smoking or using illicit drugs (including weed and vaping), as nicotine and marijuana can impact sperm production
- Drink alcohol only in moderation
- Eat a well-balanced diet, as obesity can play a large role in abnormal semen parameters or overall ovarian health
- Wear loser fitting clothing and limit bath or hot tub usage, as you shouldn’t overheat or constrict the testicles
- Exercise regularly as it can help lower stress levels and help you sleep better
- Stop using testosterone supplements or testosterone enhancing products (unless using under the guidance of a physician) as these can limit sperm production or cause the testicles to shrink
As a Progyny member, your PCA can help guide you through these lifestyle changes and provide emotional support along the way.
Questions from the Audience
1. Are there any symptoms I can look out for regarding male infertility?
There are some symptoms that you can look out for, but it is important to seek professional guidance from a provider for your experience, and to practice at-home examinations. Some symptoms may include:
- Testicular pain
- Penial discharge
- Breast development
- Headaches/tunnel vision
2. Why can’t I go to the same doctor as my partner? She is seeing a reproductive endocrinologist, what is the difference between the two?
Reproductive Endocrinologists are OBGYN physicians who diagnose/treat endocrine disorders that directly or indirectly affect reproductive health. Reproductive urologists are board certified urologists who diagnose/treat urological disorders. You may see both of these doctors in the same office treating partners simultaneously or one doctor may refer you to the other and then collaborate on yours and your partner’s care plans. It is important to have both doctors involved in a couple’s journey so that they can see the whole picture. Both REI’s and RU’s have the same end goal of helping the family conceive.
If you have any other questions related to this webinar, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a Progyny member and have any questions about your fertility benefit or coverage, please call 888.597.5065. Please note this is not in place of medical advice and if you are experiencing any symptoms of male infertility, please consult a doctor.