We wondered the same thing, so that’s why we decided to dig up some research on infertility for those with sperm. 👀
According to Mayo Clinic, about 15 percent of cisgendered couples are infertile and in over ⅓ (a third!!) of these couples, male infertility plays a role. (1)
So what even is infertility?
Good question! Infertility is the inability to conceive.
And there are two types: primary infertility and secondary infertility. Primary infertility refers to those who have been trying to conceive for a year without using birth control methods, and haven’t been able to, while secondary infertility refers to those who are unable to conceive after being able to at least once before. (2)
If someone is deemed infertile, does that mean they’ll never be able to get pregnant?
That’s a myth! Just because someone is deemed “infertile” doesn’t mean they are biologically incapable of bearing children. Infertility can be caused by various, adjustable factors from stress to lifestyle, and many will eventually conceive, even without treatment. (3)
IS FERTILITY ACTUALLY DECLINING?
The short answer: it’s complicated.
Because there are many different ways to measure fertility and these measures are relative, it’s difficult to pinpoint if fertility is actually declining or not.
One reason why fertility rates like the general fertility rate (GFR), which measures fertility based on the annual rate at which people with ovaries are having children, and the total fertility rate (TFR), which calculates fertility based on current fertility trends, may be showing a decline in fertility is that many childbearing persons are postponing having children for reasons due to an increase in female-identifying persons obtaining degrees and entering the workforce, delays in marriage, and long-lasting effects of the economic recession of the late 2000s (people tend to delay having children when the economy is bad because raising children is costly, go figure!). (4)
Although infertility may not necessarily be in decline, research shows that sperm quality and count is. A recent article from The Guardian states, “research suggests that sperm counts have dropped by half in the last 50 years or so and that a higher percentage are poor swimmers.” The causes of this phenomenon? Increasingly unhealthy lifestyles as well as chemical residues in the environment, may be to blame. (5) (More of a reason to live a sustainable life and protect mother nature at all cost—our lives LITERALLY depend on it! 🌍)
How is fertility measured for those with testes?
While one of the main signifiers of fertility for those with ovaries is egg count, for those with testes, it’s all about the sperm. Sperm health refers to the quality, movement, and structure of one’s sperm. Healthy sperm have oval heads and long tails, and at least 40 percent of them are mobile (so they can travel the looongg way up to meet the egg #longdistancerelationshipprobs). A healthy ejaculation of semen (think a WHOLE lotta sperm) contains at least 15 million sperm per milliliter—15 million!! (6) If you thought that sounded crazy, a typical ejaculation ranges anywhere from 15 million to more than 200 million sperm per milliliter. (WHAT?! 👀) (7)
Soooo how do I know how healthy my, or my partner’s, sperm is?
You can get tested! What’s more? You can test yourself, or your partner, from the comfort of your home for a fraction of the cost of a clinic test with Trak. (Yes, it’s only $75!!)
Trak is the only FDA-approved, at-home fertility test that allows you to test your or your partner’s sperm count and semen volume without needing to mail in samples or go to a clinic. (Say what?!).
How does it work? Easy: first, you collect a semen sample—AKA jack off into the provided volume cup. 💦 Take a peek at the level in the cup, load the sample into the test, and then attach it to the engine which spins your semen to isolate and quantify your sperm via centrifugal force. After a 6-minute spin cycle, you get your sperm count results and voila!
What makes Trak even better is that the Trak Engine is reusable! Sperm counts can change a lot, so with Trak you can test your sperm multiple times and check how your baby-makers are doing.
How do I read my results, you ask? For both sperm volume and sperm concentration, Trak follows the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Sperm concentration is measured into three categories: low, moderate, and optimal. The higher the count, the better your chances at conceiving! An optimal concentration is a result of above 55 M/mL, which equates to optimal fertility and a higher chance of you getting pregnant. A moderate concentration of 15 to 55 M/mL indicates that it may take you longer to conceive. And a low concentration of 15 M/mL or below may indicate that you are at risk for infertility and should consider getting some support. As for sperm volume, people with testes who regularly produce less than 1.5. milliliters of semen may be at risk for infertility. (8)
Why may my, or my partner’s, swimmers be impacted?
In general, our reproductive systems are sensitive and are especially vulnerable to environmental factors and toxins.
There are also some medical conditions that contribute to fertility issues in people with penises such as testicular disease, sperm transport disorders, and problems with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands—parts of the brain that tell the testicles to produce testosterone and sperm—as well as age (yes, penis-havers, vaginas are the only things that shrivel up with age #limpdickissues) that may all play a role. (6)
Why is knowing your sperm health important?
Knowledge is power, baby! Why spend thousands of dollars on egg-freezing, if your partner’s sperm can’t swim? If you or your partner is ejaculating too little sperm, you may be at risk for infertility because there are fewer candidates to fertilize the egg.
Plus, while those with ovaries are born with all the eggs they will ever have—their egg count slowly declining over time—those with testes keep producing sperm throughout their lifetime, beginning at puberty. This means that because new sperm are constantly being made, it is possible for you to increase your sperm count and improve your overall sperm health if you know that they may need some help!
Produce your best…sperm! 💸
To increase your chances of producing healthy sperm, medical professionals suggest you consider these lifestyle changes that probably won’t surprise you: exercise (you don’t have to hit the gym 24/7, but something as simple as taking a walk during your lunch break can help!), eat your fruits and veggies (foods high in antioxidants can increase fertility), avoid smoking and harmful chemicals, limit your alcohol intake, and of course, manage your stress (the enemy of everything).
Fun fact: some small studies also show that walnuts may aid with improving overall sperm quality—nuts for your nuts!¹¹
Moreover, since it’s summer, make sure you stay cool down under. 😎 High scrotal temperature is shown to impair sperm production.⁶ (A new POV on the phrase: hot as balls!)
Big idea here is: you CAN improve your sperm health. And if your Trak results feel worrisome, there is a myriad of support you can get before necessarily needing to spend thousands of dollars on fertility technologies.
Infertility is hard to talk about. Help!
When exploring your own fertility, something important to note is: you are not alone. According to the NIH, about 9% of people with penises and 11% of people with vaginas in the U.S. have experienced fertility issues. (10)
And for you cis men out there, know this: no one thinks you’re any less of a man because you have a lower sperm count. Actually, getting a tool like Trak to help you take control of your health and make more informed decisions around family planning is AWESOME…and hella sexy if we do say so ourselves! 😉
What are you waiting for? Get your test here!
Written by: Naydeline Mejia
All content found on this Website, including: text, images, audio, or other formats, was created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
- “Male Infertility.” Mayo Clinic. September 20, 2018. Accessed July 29, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20374773.
- “Infertility: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus. Accessed July 29, 2019. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001191.htm.
- “Infertility.” Mayo Clinic. July 25, 2019. Accessed August 02, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317.
- Livingston, Gretchen. “Is U.S. Fertility at an All-time Low? Two of Three Measures Point to Yes.” Pew Research Center. May 22, 2019. Accessed July 29, 2019. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/22/u-s-fertility-rate-explained/.
- Carr, Teresa. “Sperm Counts Are on the Decline – Could Plastics Be to Blame?” The Guardian. May 24, 2019. Accessed August 02, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/24/toxic-america-sperm-counts-plastics-research.
- “Healthy Sperm: Improving Your Fertility.” Mayo Clinic. April 03, 2018. Accessed July 29, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/fertility/art-20047584.
- Chertoff, Jane. “What Is a Normal Sperm Count?” Healthline. August 29, 2018. Accessed August 02, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/normal-sperm-count.
- “How Trak Male Fertility Works.” Trak Fertility. Accessed July 29, 2019. https://trakfertility.com/how-trak-works/.
- “How Common Is Infertility?” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Accessed July 29, 2019. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/infertility/conditioninfo/common.
- Robbins, Wendie A., Lin Xun, Leah Z. Fitzgerald, Samantha Esguerra, Susanne M. Henning, and Catherine L. Carpenter. “Walnuts Improve Semen Quality in Men Consuming a Western-Style Diet: Randomized Control Dietary Intervention Trial 1.” Biology of Reproduction 87, no. 4 (2012). doi:10.1095/biolreprod.112.101634.