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It takes two to Tango - Male Infertility

6 September 2012    

A healthy lifestyle will produce healthier sperm.

About one in 20 men are infertile in Australia and on average one in six Australian couples has difficulty achieving their dream of having a baby.

A lot of pressure is still put on the female when trying to conceive, with many people still assuming that infertility is largely due to the female factor alone, says fertility expert Dr Hassan Bakos, Deputy Scientific Director at Repromed, Australia’s leading infertility research and treatment provider.

Dr Bakos will be speaking at a Fertility Week (3-9 September) event at the University of Adelaide tonight (Thursday, September 6) and will share some of the latest information available about the relatively unexplored area of male infertility factors.

“Research shows that since the 1930s male fertility rates may be trending down and we don’t really know why,’’ he said.
“The same is not shown in animal models, so it’s something particular to humans. It also seems to be geographical with regions including Australia, the United States and Europe showing the greatest declines.’’

For most couples pregnancy occurs naturally within 12 months of trying to conceive. However, for up to 20 per cent of couples it is a different story. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse, or the inability to carry pregnancies to a live birth.

There are many possible causes of infertility among males and females:

  • 30 per cent of infertility is due to female factors alone
  • 30 per cent of infertility is due to male factors alone
  • 30 per cent of infertility is due to both female and male factors
  • Up to 10 per cent of infertility remains unexplained

There is still a lack of understanding of the affects of lifestyle on a man’s fertility, Dr Bakos said, but some of the main causes for male infertility include:

  • Sperm not being produced in sufficient numbers, or not at all
  • Sperm being obstructed from ejaculation
  • Sperm that don't swim very well in the female reproductive system restricting its ability to reach and fertilise an egg
  • Oxidative stress resulting from infection, smoking and other lifestyle factors causing semen defects.

Certain genetic conditions, including cystic fibrosis, can also affect fertility.

He said that when it comes to “lifestyle” factors, would-be fathers should not leave maintaining a healthy lifestyle up to their female partner.

Dr Bakos said that the main lifestyle factors for male infertility are obesity, age, alcohol, smoking and heat, all which contribute towards “defective sperm function which is the most common defined cause of infertility”.

He will also discuss some of the important research which has come out of Repromed surrounding this topic.

The event, Tackling Men’s Health and Fertility, will be held 5pm – 7.30pm on Thursday 6th September; Eclipse Room, Level 4, Union House, University of Adelaide, North Terrace Campus.

For more information please go to:

Catherine Bauer, phone 8412 4100 or