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Sex file: I've lost my libido since infertility diagnosis

MusicMan 2 October 30, 2019

I’m a 39-year-old man and I have recently discovered that I’m infertile. I love my girlfriend, but since I found out, I have really struggled to feel aroused. It has left me with no desire to have sex.

There has always been far more emphasis on, and research into, female infertility than male.

It is, however, an increasingly pressing concern. A 2013 study that evaluated interviews with 22,682 men and women aged 15-44 estimated that about 12% of men have fertility problems, but that proportion is likely to be larger today.

Research published in 2017 in the journal Human Reproduction Update showed that on average the sperm counts of men from Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand declined by 52.4% between 1973 and 2011.

The fall in male fertility has triggered a flurry of new research projects on the subject.

Last year the journal Nature published a review by Francesco Lotti and Mario Maggi of the existing research into sexual dysfunction and male infertility.

The review confirmed the link between infertility and sexual dysfunction, and found that decreased libido and reduced sexual satisfaction are the most commonly reported complaints.

The loss of desire that you describe is almost certainly a stress response to your diagnosis, and it may resolve as you get treatment or adjust to your situation.

It is not surprising that a condition that undermines the biological purpose of sex has had a serious impact on your capacity to engage in it, so try not to bottle up your feelings.

Sharing the psychological burden with your partner will make you and her feel a lot less anxious.

Focusing on her satisfaction will take the pressure off you, and watching her experience pleasure and orgasm may be the boost your libido needs.

If your libido doesn’t return your GP may recommend counselling, because research shows that a significant proportion of infertile men experience distress, anxiety and depression.

In a 2017 Fertility Network UK survey, 93% of respondents, who were all male, said that issues with fertility made them feel emasculated, isolated and inadequate.

You don’t give details of your condition, but it’s worth saying that male infertility is not always permanent.

About 40% of male infertility is caused by a varicocele, a clump of varicose veins in the testes that can be identified with an ultrasound scan and can often be repaired through simple surgery.

Other causes can be more complex — genetics, illness, obstruction, or environmental and lifestyle factors that include all the usual suspects: overexposure to chemicals or pesticides, overheating, smoking, poor diet and alcohol.

There may be aspects of your condition that you cannot control, but there are almost certainly parts of your lifestyle that you can change for the better.

Better general health usually improves sexual health, so improving your diet, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, wearing boxers rather than tight-fitting briefs and exercising regularly can only do you good.

You may also want to start taking a nutritional supplement.

A recent 12-week trial at the University of Sheffield found that giving fertile men a daily dose of a commercially available dietary compound called LactoLycopene increased the number of healthy sperm by about 40%.

Their next trial will include men who have fertility problems.

Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com


Page 2

Keen to avoid plant losses, flowering disappointments and container catastrophes? Hannah Stephenson shows you how

AS THE colder weather sets in, why not cast an eye over this 10-point checklist to help your garden survive the worst of winter.

As winter begins to make itself known, you may want to hibernate in front of a roaring fire — but there are some jobs that just won’t wait unless you’re prepared to have to do more work, and spend more money, next year.

So, put on your woollies and your wellies and brave the elements before it’s too late, with these jobs that won’t wait.

CRACKED POTS

If you have terracotta pots that aren’t frost-hardy, clear them out of any plants and compost, wash them and store them under cover in a frost-free place such as a shed.

10 tips to help your garden survive the worst of winter

Protect pots containing permanent plants of borderline hardiness by grouping them together in a sheltered spot and wrapping them with hessian or horticultural fleece.

PROTECT PLANTS

Any plants that aren’t totally hardy will need some protection outdoors.

Cover vulnerable plants with cloches or horticultural fleece if harsh frost is forecast and protect newly-planted trees and shrubs over the winter with windbreaks.

Alternatively, wrap a blanket of hessian or horticultural fleece around them.

PLANT BULBS

Tulips are best planted at the beginning of November, but try to get all your bulb planting done by then or you may have problems digging planting holes in your borders as the ground hardens up during winter.

10 tips to help your garden survive the worst of winter

WIND WATCH

Prepare for winter winds by removing dead or decaying branches on established trees.

Check the stakes of newly-planted trees are secure and make sure that fences, trellises and other structures which prop up climbing plants are all secure enough to withstand high winds.

GET PRUNING

Once the leaves have fallen from ornamental trees such as acers and sorbus, you can prune them lightly while dormant, to keep their framework neat.

Do the same with young trees and shrubs to give them a good framework from the get-go. Many shrubs, however, can be left for pruning in late winter and early spring.

KEEP WEEDING

Although the growth of weeds will slow down as the weather gets cooler, they will spring up again next year unless you catch them now, so dig up as many as you can before the ground becomes too hard to work.

10 tips to help your garden survive the worst of winter

LOOK AFTER FISH

If you have fish in your pond, stop the water from freezing by floating a ball on the surface, or consider installing a pond heater.

MOVE PLANTS

If you want to switch plants around, or just need to lift and divide overgrown clumps, do it now while the ground is still soft enough to work.

You’ll be able to fill any gaps leftover from summer, while dividing plants will also give you a chance to do some repeat-planting in your borders.

This will create a welcome rhythm in your garden next year.

PLANT AND HARVEST

There’s still time to plant winter salads like pak choi, but make sure you cover crops with fleece to protect them.

Harvest vegetables including kale, spinach, turnips, parsnips, winter cabbage and the first Brussels sprouts, but make sure to stake plants with canes.

ORDER PLANTS

Take time to flick through the latest seed catalogues and don’t delay ordering to guarantee you get the varieties you want before they run out of stock.