Fertility issues only affect women – A myth

February 15, 2019

It is often perceived that infertility mainly affects women and indeed research about experiences of infertility has historically disproportionately focused on women. Studies have shown that men’s reluctance to engage in discussions on fertility and reproductive health is partly due to societal perceptions that these topics are a ‘woman’s territory’. However, this is not supported by research figures on infertility showing that approximately 40–50% of all cases of infertility are due to male infertility.

One of the key misconceptions in this area is that age-related fertility decline only affects women. While there has been extensive research on the impact of advanced maternal age on the ability to become pregnant and reproductive outcomes for couples trying to get pregnant, less research has been focused on understanding the impact of advanced paternal age. Advanced paternal age can be associated with a variety of factors including decreased serum androgen concentration, decreased sexual activity, alterations of testicular morphology, deterioration of semen quality and reduced DNA integrity of sperm. Advanced paternal age is also implicated in pregnancy associated complications as well as a variety of adverse outcomes in offspring, including genetic defects.

For the reasons mentioned above health policies emphasise the need for men and women both to engage in fertility discussions to better achieve their desired fertility outcomes during their lifetimes. Therefore, couples experiencing difficulties conceiving should be seen together – as both partners are affected by the decisions and outcomes of the investigation and treatment.



Grace, B. (2018). The importance of engaging men in fertility and reproductive health discussions. British Mensa’s: ANDROGYNY, 2(3), 21-25.


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