Male Infertility in India

Male Infertility in India

Infertility, especially among men, is on the rise in India. Given the social stigma associated with male infertility in the Indian context, the topic of male infertility has not received the attention that it deserves in recent times. However, male infertility is indeed a problem with nearly 40% of all couples who seek treatment reported as the male partner being the one who is infertile. Indeed, the concomitant development of Infertility Clinics and popularization of sperm donors in Bollywood movies and IVF or In Vitro Fertilization methods has resulted in the recognition of male infertility as widespread and deserving the needed solutions for the same. It is no longer the case that the women are blamed alone and infertile couples who seek treatment often talk, albeit in hushed tones, about it being a “male problem” as well.

Infertility, which is the inability to conceive by the couples, after a year of unprotected sex (six months if the woman is over 35 years old), is caused by several factors some of which are purely physical and physiological and others that are to do with occupational and lifestyle factors. In particular, male infertility is a problem that has complex factors causing it and is sometimes difficult to pin down as far as finding the root causes are concerned.

Having said that, recent research suggests that there is a causal link between stress and male infertility with studies indicating that sperm counts go up and down related to the stress that the male is being subjected to. In addition, exposure to high temperatures in professions such as factory workers, welders, machine operators, and construction workers, has been attributed to being one of the reasons for male infertility. This is because the scrotum and the testes in men are impacted by variations in temperatures that the men are exposed to and hence, there can be a dip in the sperm count corresponding to this. Indeed, this is the reason why prolonged exposure to laptops and Smartphones especially in the groin is thought to contribute to male infertility. Of course, there are factors such as chronic alcohol abuse, substance abuse, and tobacco consumption that are known to cause male infertility. Indeed, smoking  is often contribute to decreased sperm counts in as much as repeated and excessive alcohol consumption also contributes to male infertility. Apart from this, rising obesity and lack of physical exercise as well as other lifestyle disorders are often pointed to as the factors causing male infertility.

As mentioned earlier, the sociocultural milieu in India places too much blame on the women whereas the reality is that male infertility is as much a factor as the women being infertile. Indeed, surveys have shown that male infertility is not an urban problem alone and the increasing incidence of the same in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns means that it is spread across the geographical regions.

Male infertility can also result from contracting STD or Sexually Transmitted Diseases and other ailments caused by promiscuity and hence, there is some risk associated with unprotected sex with strangers and others.

Lastly, it is high time the Indian medical establishment takes steps to address the growing problem of the Infertile Indian Male lest it leads to tensions between the couples and the associated problems with their families. As is the case with medical problems with psychosocial and sociocultural dimensions, the optimal way to address this would be to seek treatment in confidence, if needed, instead of brushing it under the carpet and pretending that the women are to blame.

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