Fertility: women aren't to blame any more

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - When it comes to getting pregnant, many times fertility problems are blamed on the woman, but medical experts say 40 percent of the time the problem is with the man.

"Men are in denial, denial, denial, when it comes to fertility and sexual function," Dr. Harry Fisch said. Fisch says that denial often results in couples blaming the woman's body and prematurely trying extreme measures.

"If In Vitro Fertilization was a drug it probably would not be approved by the FDA because there's no long term data," Fisch said.

In fact, Fisch says more than 40 percent of fertility problems are caused by the man -- namely a low sperm count.

But there are ways you can increase that count, like increasing l-arginine, an amino-acid in your diet. "Soy, oats, blueberries, salmon, and tuna are high in l-arginine," Fisch said.

And keep in mind, biological clocks aren't just for women. "There is a male biological clock and after 30 that clock starts ticking," he said.

And while we've all heard of men in their later years reproducing, Fisch doesn't recommend it. "Turns out sperm from older men have a much larger chance of having babies with genetic problems. We know autism, downs syndrome, schizophrenia increases with the paternal father's age," Fisch said.

So how can you slow down your biological clock? Slow down your drinking.

"Two drinks a day is the max I recommend, if you're trying to have a child I don't recommend that much," Fisch said.

And when it comes to your belly, size does matter. "If you've got a beer gut, you're out acting like you're macho but when no one's looking you're tired, and fatigued," Fisch said.

And your sperm count is lower. Fisch also recommends couples coupling every other day. The longer sperm stays in a man's system the lower the sperm's mobility.

Even if you're not trying to get pregnant, you still need to pay attention. "The penis is the dipstick of the body's health so anything you do to increase vascular health will go to helping your penis," Fisch said.

Since sexual dysfunction can show up 3-5 years before heart disease, it's like the canary in the coal mine for a man's body.

Dr. Fisch is the only male fertility expert in the state and he doesn't even live here. He flies down from New York once a month. He says that's because the focus has been on the female factor, but MUSC wants to change that, so Fisch is teaching students about the role the man plays.