It’s been a difficult journey to parenthood for Ray J and his wife. But now, he and Princess Love are expecting a baby and the first-time dad, who had a low sperm count, is over the moon.
“I’m nervous, I’m excited,” the tech businessman tells the hosts of “The Real” Monday, Nov. 27. “It finally happened.
Ray J’s infertility struggle became public knowledge on the fourth season of “Love & Hip Hop Hollywood.” He famously duked it out with Safaree and A1 on the Vh1 reality series over who had the highest sperm count. A bomb was dropped when a fertility doctor revealed the rapper, who appeared with a cigarette behind his ear, had a sperm count of 9 million compared to A1’s 75 million and Safaree’s 43 million.
“It took me to focus and do the right thing from my side, take care of my responsibilities and get fresh. … It’s not as easy as people think.”
Dr. Desireé McCarthy-Keith, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at SGF Atlanta, said there are many factors that can contribute to a man’s low sperm count.
“Men who take testosterone supplements for ‘low T’ can have decreased sperm count as a result of those treatments,” the MD, who has not treated Ray J, told Atlanta Black Star. “Other hormonal imbalances can affect a man’s natural sperm production. There are known genetic conditions which can also cause male infertility. Chronic medical conditions like diabetes can affect male fertility as well. Men who are overweight may have low testosterone and low sperm count. Genital surgeries and infections can also impact male fertility. Men who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke can also experience negative effects on their sperm.”
Just as the doc suggested on “Love & Hip Hop Hollywood,” McCarthy-Keith said changes in lifestyle and medication can help increase men’s count.
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“Maintaining general health, avoiding heat to the genital area (e.g. hot tub, sauna, steam room, etc.) and avoiding tobacco smoke are lifestyle changes that men can adopt for their reproductive health,” she said.
And while infertility is usually seen as a women’s issue — stars like Gabrielle Union and Aisha Tyler have come forward about their IVF treatments — McCarthy-Keith said therein lies the biggest misconception about male infertility.
“The greatest misconception about male infertility is that it doesn’t exist,” she said. “Men and women often assume that infertility is a female condition, and men are sometimes reluctant to be evaluated. Society equates masculinity with a man’s ability to father children, so men are often ashamed or embarrassed to seek help. In truth, 40-50 percent of couples with infertility will have a male factor either exclusively or in addition to female factors.”
Ray J publicly seeking a semen analysis, which McCarthy-Keith noted is an “important initial test for any couple with infertility,” means other men can learn from his struggle to start a family. She added that it shows ethnicity, age and social and economic status are no match for infertility.
“Fertility specialists recognize male infertility as a medical condition with unique health and psychological consequences,” McCarthy-Keith said. “We encourage men and their partners to be evaluated early and to know that they are not alone in their struggle. Fertility treatments have advanced significantly in the past 10-20 years and we are now able to help many couples have the family of their dreams.”