Male infertility is on the rise and is currently a contributing factor to fertility decline in the country, with one-third of infertility cases attributed to men, says a fertility expert.

According to In vitro fertilisation (IVF) specialist Dr Agilan Arjunan of the KL Fertility Centre, male infertility in the past 10 years had increased about 40 to 50 per cent in the country.

During a round-table session with the media on infertility here today, a panel of IVF experts said women infertility was no longer just a 'silent disease' as global studies suggested the average sperm count from 1930-1990 had almost halved.

A study conducted by the Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) Department at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Medical Centre on semen analysis from two cohorts of men eight years apart, revealed that a 43 per cent semen quality was recorded.

The above study was significant enough for study investigators to conclude a rising need for fertility services in the country, especially for men.

Therefore, Dr Agilan, an expert in male fertility is offering free consultation for men with the above problem at the KL Fertility Centre, in hopes of creating more awareness.

Some major contributing factors resulting in male infertility include obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption, while stress is also a contributing factor.

Some men are aware of their problem, but are too shy to speak about it while some are not at all aware they have a problem, he told Bernama after a session recently.

Malaysia's infertility rate has been gradually declining to 1.97 children per household based on a United Nations statistics between 2010 and 2015.

This figure is now expected to decline to 1.90 children per household by year 2020 and will continue to decline to 1.72 children per household by 2050.

Meanwhile, three contributing factors for the decline in birth rate have been singled out.

They are women delaying pregnancy; rise of male infertility; and, the associated cost of IVF treatment.

Due to the above factors, KL Fertility Centre medical director, Datuk Dr Prashant Nadkarni in his presentation said: Women are marrying later as they are putting careers ahead of motherhood.

The IVF treatment affordability is still a huge problem due to its high cost and IVF has always catered to the rich."

Meanwhile, the KL Fertility Centre spearheaded by Dr Natasha Ain Mohd Nor is conducting a low-cost model called the IVFku which happens to be the most successful model to date at the centre.

This programme which is still new, was started by the centre in February and to date, there are 11 patients undergoing treatment. Six successful pregnancies have been reported by the centre.

The centre is also encouraging more young single women to freeze their eggs.

Egg freezing is gradually becoming a trend among young Malaysian women where the average age of women seeking IVF treatment is 36 and below.