Researcher Liberty Barnes cites several reasons why infertility is often seen as a female problem in her book “Conceiving Masculinity: Male Infertility, Medicine and Identity.” Arguing that society tends to view reproduction and childbirth as “women’s work,” Barnes points out that virtually all public discussion of the subject is geared toward a female audience. This bias fosters the perception that most infertility research, testing and treatment is aimed at women. While people realize male infertility exists, it’s often thought of as rare. In fact, many people aren’t aware that there are doctors who specialize in male infertility.
Dr. Parviz Kavoussi, a reproductive urologist and respected specialist in male infertility, battles these common misconceptions regularly. “People often assume that infertility is really only an issue on the female partner’s side. But, we know that in 20 percent of subfertile couples, the issue is solely on the man’s side. In an additional 30 to 40 percent of subfertile couples where female factors have been diagnosed, there is a male factor as well. In more than half of infertility cases, the guy is involved too!”
If male infertility is so common, why isn’t it a part of the public dialog? Barnes suggests that the general belief that male infertility is emasculating keeps male sufferers from discussing the problem openly. “This is an issue that no man ever thinks he will have,” explains Dr Kavoussi, who sees men struggle with the emotional challenges of infertility both in his work with his patients and his role as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the division of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s key for the man to realize that this is a common scenario that is not a reflection on him as a person. Fortunately, there is an awful lot we can do about it these days. Although it is true that research on the male side is lagging, we are catching up,” adds Dr. Kavoussi, who is active in clinical and basic science research in male infertility to help advance knowledge and the field.”
Diagnosed when a couple fails to conceive after a year of attempting to do so, infertility can have many causes. In both men and women, structural difficulties, medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle issues like smoking or being overweight can all negatively affect fertility. Infertility treatment depends on the suspected cause. Fertility medications, lifestyle changes, corrective surgery, donor eggs or sperm, and the use of techniques like intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization can improve a couple’s chances for a successful pregnancy.
Board certified by the American Board of Urology, Dr Kavoussi is active in clinical and basic science research in male infertility. He offers his patients the latest in medical and surgical treatments for male infertility at Austin Fertility and Reproductive Medicine/Westlake IVF.
For a personal infertility consultation with Dr. Kavoussi, contact Austin Fertility and Reproductive Medicine/Westlake IVF at (512) 444-1414.