Ask Men turned to Shady Grove Fertility Reproductive Urologist, Dr. Paul Shin, to talk about fertility-friendly lubricants, when it’s time to seek help from a fertility specialist, and how common male factor infertility really is (hint: 40 to 50 percent of all cases of infertility are a result of a male factor).
Most couples think when they’re ready to start a family, it’ll just happen. Fact of the matter is, getting pregnant is often more difficult than we realize, especially as we age. The rate of conception is highly dependent on the quality and quantity of the woman’s egg. “Even under ideal conditions, couples only have a 15 to 20 percent chance at best of achieving pregnancy in a particular month,” says Dr. Shin.
We’ve all heard the common myths about boosting fertility. Boxers vs. briefs, legs elevated after intercourse, best sex positions for conception. The list goes on and on. How about lubricants—can they help you get pregnant or hurt your chances – which ones are best? Dr. Shin clears the air about using lube when trying to conceive (TTC) and advises on which products to avoid.
Best Fertility-Friendly Lubricants
While we’re on the topic of intercourse, your choice of lubricant may be impacting conception. Certain components of water-based lubricants can make it more difficult for sperm to make their way into the cervical canal. These lubricants include many of the popular drugstore brands, so couples who are trying to conceive should use lubricants designed to mimic natural fluids or mineral oil.
“My advice to couples is I would still rather have you use a little bit of whatever lubricant you’re using, and have more comfortable intercourse, versus avoiding anything at all,” says Dr. Shin. “Practically speaking, if you use a little bit of lube, and you’ve got a reasonable amount of motile sperm, I don’t think it’s going to be a deal breaker.”
Choosing a fertility-friendly lubricant such as pre-seed can help alleviate dryness and not negatively impact sperm.
When to Seek Help from a Fertility Specialist
How do you know if you have infertility? Traditionally, a fertility specialist will assume infertility is present based on the following definition. When a woman is:
- Under 35 with regular cycles, unprotected intercourse and no pregnancy after 1 year
- 35 to 39 with regular cycles, unprotected intercourse and no pregnancy after 6 months
- 40 or over with regular cycles, unprotected intercourse and no pregnancy after 3 months
Women of any age with any of the following should proactively talk with a physician about how these conditions could affect their ability to get pregnant:
- Irregular menstrual cycles (a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS), severely painful periods, or no period on a regular basis (monthly)
- A history of pelvic surgery (such as the removal of an ovarian cyst, ablation of endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, tubal surgery, or ruptured appendix)
- Diagnosis of endometriosis
For women with any of these conditions, if you’re having difficulty conceiving, we recommend seeking an evaluation even sooner than what we typically recommend.
Do Men Have Infertility?
YES, and this is why we must test both the male and female for infertility when a couple is having difficulty conceiving. Infertility is often thought of as a female problem. This is a myth.
In 10 percent of cases, sperm are severely compromised, and this can be the exclusive reason why couples have failed to conceive. Nearly 40 percent of semen analyses demonstrate abnormal sperm, which may contribute to infertility.
“Testing is pretty easy to do,” explains Dr. Shin. “Couples need to understand that it is essentially a 50/50 split. It definitely takes two to tango, and you have things on the male side, you have things on the female side. And you have to approach them both individually and as a couple to really figure out your optimal solution for helping couples conceive.”
A man can overcome male factor infertility with a variety of treatment options. A diagnosis of male factor infertility is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. The goal with any treatment is to get the sperm as close to the egg as possible. The severity of the case, the fertility status of the female partner, and comfort level of the couple together dictate the planned course of treatment. Luckily, this form of infertility is easily overcome with the right diagnosis, lifestyle choices, and treatment.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call our New Patient Center at 1-877-971-7755 or fill out this brief form.