Maybe you've heard that old wedding-day advice that relationships aren't 50/50, that partners can overcome their problems if they both give 100 percent. Unfortunately, this doesn't apply when it comes to making babies. According to Dr. Mark Perloe, medical director of Georgia Reproductive Specialists, problems with the man's reproductive system account for 30 percent of couples' infertility, while obstacles that affect both the man and woman account for another 20 percent. Ironically, then, infertility is a 50/50 issue: Guys are at least partially responsible in about half the cases.
Infertility: The Nuts and Bolts
Although many couples trying to conceive start to worry after a few unsuccessful months, the term "infertility" only applies when they have been unable to conceive after one continuous year. The clinical methods for treating infertility are numerous, ranging from tracking the exact moment of ovulation through blood tests to fertility drugs, surgery, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and the even more costly GIFT and ZIFT (gamete/zygote intrafallopian transfer) procedures.
However, there are several non-invasive measures that couples can take to improve their chances. In her book The Infertility Diet: Get Pregnant and Prevent Miscarriage, author Fern Reiss explains that, after researching hundreds of infertility studies, she found infertility and miscarriage strongly linked to vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. "Though the information was scanty and hard to find," she writes, "I finally succeeded in putting together a list of foods that were linked to increased fertility and miscarriage prevention." Reiss and her husband had been trying to conceive for three years, but armed with the information she had gathered, she states, "We altered our diets immediately. We conceived two months later."
Reiss acknowledges that dietary changes alone will not prove successful for every couple struggling with infertility; however, she states, "If you are in the majority whose infertility is caused by something that might be affected nutritionally—or if doctors tell you that clinically there is no medical reason why you cannot conceive—then there is a good chance that an altered diet will dramatically improve your odds." Dietary factors may be more significant for women, but food and diet supplements can both help and hinder male fertility as well.