In a study of 1,500 men and women, published today by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign, 70 per cent of men associated infertility with women and half said they thought male infertility was an embarrassing problem that they would not want to discuss with friends or colleagues.
Fertility specialists and family doctors said men needed to take their general health as well as their sexual health more seriously and change their lifestyles to reduce the risk of infertility.
In the past fifty years the average sperm count has nearly halved, from 113 million per millilitre in 1940 to 66 million per millilitre in 1990. Drinking alcohol, stress, environmental pollution, smoking and the trend for couples to try for a baby later in life have all taken their toll. One in seven couples now seek medical advice to help them to conceive.
Although men are slowly beginning to think about their overall health and lifestyle, including fertility, 60 per cent still do not take enough regular exercise. "Historically men haven't been encouraged to take an interest in their health and especially their fertility because it is often the source of many jokes and a dent to their masculinity," said Steve Jamieson, of the Men's Health Forum.
Men are four times less likely to go to their doctor than women. And although a quarter said that they would change their lifestyle if they were diagnosed with a fertility problem, one men in ten said he would not know what to do or who to talk to, if he was diagnosed with a low or zero sperm count.Reuse content