Just the way a man is very different from a woman, the same way the male reproduction process and infertility are different from the female reproduction process and infertility. So before we go into the differences between male fertility and female fertility lets first see what infertility is? Basically, a couple who have been trying to get pregnant for a year and haven’t been able to do so should get a check-up done for infertility. If the woman is more than 35 years of age and has not been able to get pregnant in six months, then she too needs to get checked for infertility.
It’s not uncommon for a man to father a child in his sixties while most women are not able to conceive naturally after menopause. This difference stems from the fact that from birth itself, the male and female reproduction systems and fertility vary on several factors.
Male reproduction & fertility
- Most males are fertile from puberty until death
- Sperm production starts at puberty
- There is no fixed fertility period since sperms are produced all the time
- Common for a man to father children even in the sixties
Female reproduction & fertility
- Fertility in females start from puberty until menopause
- Unlike a man, a female is born with all her eggs, which she keeps releasing in her each menstrual cycle (one egg per cycle)
- Fertile only for a few days in a month around ovulation
- Females cannot get pregnant naturally after menopause.
So now that we have pinpointed the fundamental differences between male and female fertility let’s see what is male infertility. Male infertility refers to a man’s inability to impregnate a fertile female. You would be surprised to know that it accounts for 40 to 50% of the infertilities. It generally affects 7% of all men.
Female infertility means the inability of a female to conceive after trying for a year or six months, in case she is more than 35 years old. Even if the woman can imagine but is not able to carry the full fetus term, leading to miscarriages time and again, then that is also known as female infertility.
So what causes male and female infertility? Well, the main reason that leads to male fertility is the semen, which includes sperm counts, sperm motility and sperm shape. But there are also a variety of medical factors which leads to male infertility like:
- Genetic defects
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Health problems such as diabetes
- Varicocele ( enlarged veins in the testes)
- Hormonal imbalance including low production of testosterone
- Testicles that haven’t descended into the scrotum
Like male fertility female fertility can also happen due to a variety of factors interfering with the reproductive system like,
- Problems in ovulation
- Damage to the fallopian tube or uterus
- Problems with the cervix
- Uterine fibroids
- PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
You would be surprised to know that although reasons for male and female fertility are different, the risk factors affecting both are almost similar like:
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- Increase in age
- Sexual history
- Environmental factors
- Too much or little fat
- Hormonal imbalance
- Chronic diseases like diabetes, lupus, arthritis, and asthma.
Once you and your partner have been trying to conceive for a long time and have not been able to do so, its best to seek medical advice for the treatment of the same. Just like the causes of male and female infertility are different, the procedures are also different. Lets us see what are the standard treatment for male and female infertility:
The conventional treatments for male infertility are:
- Surgery, which includes treating obstruction that prevents the sperm from flowing into the urethra.
- Treating infections
- Treating of hormonal imbalances
- Treatments for sexual intercourse problems
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
The standard treatments for female infertility, depending on the problem, are:
- Hormonal therapy to address hormonal imbalances or endometriosis
- Medications that help stimulate ovulation
- Surgery for correcting an abnormally shaped uterus, for removing fibroids or unblocking fallopian tubes
- Using supplements to enhance fertility
- Assisted reproductive assistance (ART)
Since precaution is always better than cure, following a healthy lifestyle, eating well, exercising, meditating, trying to live a stress-free life are simple things that help your body and mind stay healthy, leading to fewer health problems including infertility.
Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP