Male attitude towards masturbating: an impediment to infertility evaluation and sperm parameters

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Male attitude about masturbation may influence early diagnosis and treatment of infertility and may be of particular burden in developing countries. We sought to explore attitude about masturbating and examine comfort/discomfort with masturbating and sexual history, pregnancy history and sperm quality in men investigating fertility potential. The study consisted of 83 male volunteers, 23–61 years, attending a fertility management unit in Kingston, Jamaica. Comfort with masturbation was assessed by a self-administered questionnaire. Participants also completed the unit's standard intake form for infertility investigations and produced a semen sample. T-tests, Mann–Whitney U-test and chi-square were used to compare differences in comfort level with outcome variables. We found 59% were comfortable masturbating although requiring external stimulation to produce a sample (48%); 6% (n = 5) failed to produce a sample after repeated attempts. A higher percentage of men uncomfortable with masturbating reported sexual problems (P < 0.05) and spending a longer time trying to have a baby (P < 0.05). Semen quality was not associated with masturbating comfort. Producing a sample by masturbation is standard for many assisted conception treatments. As comfort with masturbating may influence delay in infertility investigations and fertility outcome, efforts to improve men's comfort level with semen production should be considered in pre-treatment fertility counselling.

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