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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Does infertility impact both men and women?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

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    Women's Health Queensland Wide provides free health information for Queensland women. View Profile

    Yes, both men and women are impacted by infertility. 1 in 6 couples will experience difficulties conceiving as a result of ovulatory, tubal, semen or combined factors. Sperm production is a very complex process and until recent times, very little was known about the causes of male infertility. Studies continue to be done to shed light on this subject.

    For more information Queensland women can call the Health Information on 3839 9988 or 1800 017 676 (toll free outside Brisbane). Please note that all health information provided by Women’s Health Queensland Wide is subject to this disclaimer.

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    VARTA is a statutory authority based in Melbourne, Australia, providing independent, accurate information about fertility, infertility and assisted reproductive treatment (ART). View Profile

    Yes, both women and men can be infertile or, as is more often the case, sub-fertile. Approximately nine per cent of couples have fertility issues at some point in their lives. If a heterosexual couple has been trying to conceive for a year without success, both the man and the woman should see their doctor for a medical check-up. If the woman is over-35, she and her partner should see their doctor after six months of trying to conceive without success.

    Age and lifestyle factors such as weight, smoking and alcohol use, can affect a person's fertility. For more information, see www.yourfertility.org.au

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    Kristen Ross

    Counsellor, Kinesiologist

    Kristen Ross is a qualified Kinesiologist, Counsellor and Sports Therapist.Affinity Wellness is her holistic wellness practice offering a holistic wellness experience by focusing on all … View Profile

    Infertility impacts both men and women both physically and emotionally. 

    If planning for a family has been one of your major relationship goals then the idea that this may not happen can cause both parties to question the diretion of the relationship, especially when there is the added stress of trying to conceive to an ovulation schedule or an IVF schedule, this can change intimate sex into ‘baby-making’ sex and lead to a number of emotional stresses as the focus of the relationship turns to conceiving. 

    There is also the issue of acceptance, either or both parties may have a difficult time accepting that there is an inability to conceive and that it may never happen. This can cause a number of issues including resentment towards the partner, depression, self-blame. These emotional responses are not exclusive to one gender.

    Unfortunately what I have found is that there is not enough emotional support provided for people going through the IVF process which is why I recommend individuals seek out counselling (individual or couples) or kinesiology services to help them through this emotionally tough time. 

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    Nikki Warren

    Naturopath

    Nikki Warren is committed to preconception care, natural fertility, and pregnancy through to postnatal care. Nikki is a degree qualified Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, Doula and … View Profile

    Yes, statistics show that there is a 40% chance is due to a female factor, 40% due to a male factor and 20% is unexplained.  Interestingly in my clinic, I have found that it is mostly due to a male factor.  Sperm are more vulnerable to toxicity because it takes about 116 days to make a new batch of sperm cells from scratch and during this time anything that is ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, can affect the development of sperm.  Also heat can affect sperm development so men need to wear boxer shorts (the loose ones) and avoid hot baths, spas and saunas.  If they are overweight, then this will create more heat so they may need to lose weight.

    Infertility due to a female factor is often due to tubal blockages which could be from scarring (due to a past sexually transmitted infection) or endometriosis (the endometrial tissue can block the tubes).  Or it could be due to a hormone imbalance which causes a failure to ovulate or if she is in her late 30s or early 40s it could be due to declining egg quality. 

    It is possible that a woman is able to conceive but the fertilised egg fails to implant in her uterus - in fact, on average, out of 100 fertilised eggs, only 69 will implant in the uterus.  Failure to implant could be due to a hormone imbalance - you need enough oestrogen to build a healthy endometrium to nourish the embryo and enough progesterone to sustain the pregnancy.  Oestrogen also creates fertile mucus - this is the mucus which looks like raw egg white around the time of ovulation.

    There is also the chance that it is the combination of both partners which is causing the infertility. 

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    Dr Louise Shepherd

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a clinical psychologist with 15 years experience working with all sorts of goals and issues. I love working with people, helping them to … View Profile

    The emotional impact on both men and women of trying to conceive a child can be enormous. It is an incredibly stressful process as others have mentioned. 

    In addition to seeking medical advice and treatment it is highly recommended to speak to a clinical psychologist who has some experience and awareness of what this experience can be like. IVF clinics usually have a psychologist to speak with - or else you can find someone privately to get support during this time either as a couple of individually.

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    Jan Seeley

    Counselling Psychologist, Psychologist

    Jan Seeley is a Counselling Psychologist and a member of the Australian Psychological Society with a Master of Counselling (Psychology). For over 25 years she … View Profile

    Consulting with an IVF clinic for the past 7 years, I see couples every day who are affected by fertility issues.  Many people in this situation can benefit from appropriate counselling, however this doesn't need to be a clinical psychologist, who tend to specialise in serious mental illness, but any good psychologist, social worker or family therapist with counselling experience in the area.

  • I am a registered psychologist with many years of counselling experience in the field of relationships and fertility issues. In particular my focus is on … View Profile

    Infertility affects men and women in different ways. Men tend to want a solution and are more focused on coping with infertility by not speaking about it too much. They desperately want to be a father. However if it is female factor they will sometimes struggle to know how to support their partner. If it is male factor infertility it could be an issue for their maleness as some men view sterility as linked to virility and who they are as a man.
    Females are usually more emotional and might want to talk to friends and family or become very focused on what they can do to improve their chances. Often it is the female whose life goes into limbo as she worries about making career changes or holiday plans in case she is having treatment or pregnant. She wont drink and this is picked up socially which sometimes leads to her avoiding social situations. Feelings of being less than a woman could be an issue. 
    If in a relationship fertility issues need to be communicated in a gentle way between partners. This is a time when they need to turn towards each other and try and nurture their relationship and what they do have which is each other. Some females fear their partner will leave them if they cant give them a baby.
    Working through these issues with an experienced fertility counsellor is very helpful

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