April 24, 2019 12:42
Male infertility diagnoses have increased 2.5 times over the last 10 years, partly because of changing marriage patterns and partly because of growing awareness.
The number of men diagnosed with infertility rose from 26,682 in 2008 to 67,270 in 2018, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday. But the number of women diagnosed with infertility dropped to 135,268 last year after peaking at 162,921 in 2015.
Health officials attribute the increase to people getting married later and planning their families more carefully. The average age of first marriage for men rose from 27.8 years in 1990 to 30.1 years in 2003 and 33.2 years in 2018.
"Men normally maintain peak fertility until their mid-40s, but it drops as they get older," said Prof. Choi Young-sik at Yonsei University's Severance Hospital in Seoul.
Other reasons include stress and exposure to various environmental hormones. But growing awareness is also a factor. An increasing number of single men visit hospitals to check their sperm count or viability these days as infertility is now seen as a problem of both men and women.
"In the past, many couples tended to assume infertility was the woman's fault and only found out that the man was the cause when they went to hospital for artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization, but now men also consult doctors more actively," said Prof. Bae Woong-jin at St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul.
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