Wales

Rhod Gilbert fronts male infertility campaign HIMfertility

Rhod Gilbert
Image caption Gilbert is filming a BBC documentary exploring infertility and meeting other men who are experiencing difficulties

"It's time to talk tackle," says comedian Rhod Gilbert who is fronting a campaign to discuss male infertility.

Gilbert says he knew "almost nothing" about male infertility until he and his wife experienced difficulties in starting a family.

He believes "most men think infertility is mainly a female issue" when couples struggle to conceive.

He is using his experiences to back the campaign, HIMfertility, encouraging men to talk more about it and to seek help.

"Men aren't always the best at opening up about sensitive subjects around health, but when it's one that goes to the heart of notions of masculinity and virility, then we are even worse," said Gilbert, from Carmarthen.

"We often don't want to talk about it, and if we do want to talk about it, there's very few places we can go or people we can turn to."

Problems with sperm are a factor for around one in three couples who are struggling to get pregnant, according to the NHS website.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The campaign HIMfertility is being launched on Tuesday in Cardiff

"It's time to talk tackle because by closing up and shutting down, we are leaving a hell of a lot of men feeling isolated, helpless and alone," he said.

"Male infertility accounts for roughly half of all infertility, but you would never know that from the way we talk about infertility in society."

Prof Sheryl Homa, who specialises in male reproductive health, said: "The problem with fertility is that it isn't properly investigated, especially as far as men are concerned.

"Investigations typically start with the woman and - if there are any anomalies picked up in the semen sample - men are more often than not referred to a gynaecologist, when they really should be seeing a urologist who specialises in andrology.

"When men discover that they are having fertility issues, there's also a real stigma attached to it."

Gilbert's campaign group HIMfertility is being launched on Tuesday in Cardiff.

Under the slogan, "Time to Talk Tackle", it will highlight lifestyle changes that may increase men's chances of fertility, such as stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, exercising and following a healthy diet.

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