Archive for the ‘low sperm count’ Category

Low Sperm Count? The Culprit Might Be Your Laptop Computer

December 24, 2010

Whoever invented the ‘laptop’ probably didn’t worry too much about male reproductive health.  Turns out, unsurprisingly, that sitting with a computer on your lap will crank up the temperature of your genitals, which could affect sperm quality.

It is well known that the scrotum and its contents are about one degree cooler than the core body temperature of 98.0F.  If the testicles are exposed to increased heat such as frequent hot tubs and certain occupations such as bakers and welders, it may decrease the sperm count and result in infertility. Under normal circumstances, the testicles’ position outside of the body makes sure they stay a few degrees cooler than the inside of the body, which is necessary for sperm production.

The researchers at State University of New York at Stony Brook hooked thermometers to the scrotums of 29 young men who were balancing a laptop on their knees. They found that even with a lap pad under the computer, the men’s scrotums overheated quickly. To hold a laptop on your knees, however, you need to sit still with your legs closed. After one hour in this position, the researchers found that men’s testicle temperature had risen by up to 2.50.

Nearly one in six couples in the US have trouble conceiving a baby, and about half the time the man is at the root of the problem.  This number may be much higher for men using laptop computers for long periods of time.

Bottom Line: Your laptop may be hazardous to your sperm production.  The extra heat generated to the testicles is enough to impact sperm counts. The solution may be as simple as putting your laptop on a desk or spreading your legs to allow the added heat to escape.

 

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Male Infertility-It’s Not Always the Woman’s Fault

May 9, 2010

Nothing is more devastating to a couple than the inability to conceive and have a child.  Infertility is currently a problem for one out of five couples presently trying to have children.  In one-third of the couples the problem is due to a problem in the man; one-third is due to a female cause; and one third is due to both the man and the woman.  Therefore in nearly 2\3 of the couples, there is a male factor associated with the failure to conceive or for the woman to become pregnant.

Any couple embarking on an infertility work-up does so with some fear and reluctance.  It often helps to know what is ahead, to be informed and aware of how it will feel and what the doctor is hoping to find.

The nature of the infertility work-up necessitates that it become a priority in your daily life.  Suddenly, there are specific days that you must have intercourse.  In certain tests you even have to report to the doctor’s office a specific number of hours after intercourse.  As a result, spontaneous lovemaking becomes difficult.  Vacations and business trips become low priority.  Schedules have to be made to fit the demands of the testing cycle. Many women find it hard to take time off from work, especially if they don’t want it known that they are undergoing an infertility evaluation.  It is a stressful time.  Both husband and wife are being tested and scored.  There is a feeling of “pass or fail” and a real sense of despair if a test comes back showing questionable or negative results.  Women often feel frightened and violated by the infertility tests.  Men often feel helpless.  For the husband, testing is over if the semen analysis is normal.  In contrast, he may see his wife having to go through various tests which can be painful and frightening.  This understandably can upset both members of the couple.  Added to this worry and uncertainty is the lingering fear of what the doctor will find.  What if they indeed find an answer, but a discouraging one?  Suffice it to say that deciding to start an infertility workup is a big decision. (This paragraph could be deleted if you are pressed for space)

The following is an overview of the tests involved.  You may want to use it to understand what may be required medically or as a tool to double-check that you have had all the tests.

Initial Appointment

Some infertility specialists like to see the couple together for the first appointment.  This provides a opportunity for the couple to establish good communication with the doctor.  It also is an opportunity to evaluate what, if anything, has been done and what will be needed in the future.  The doctor will be able to explain tests to the couple and will give them a time frame in which he or she hopes to complete the evaluation.(Could be deleted)

The doctor will take a very careful medical history from the male. The doctor will want to know about the medical history of the immediate family.  Attention will be paid to details concerning previous surgery, infections, chronic illnesses, and hospitalizations.  Background information on smoking, alcohol intakes and medications and exposure to environmental or occupational toxins will be requested.  Of course, a reproductive history from both partners will be needed.  Details about the types of birth control practiced will be obtained.  In addition, any history of previous pregnancies should be discussed. Information about frequency and nature sexual intercourse and previous venereal disease is crucial in the evaluation.

Physical Examination

A physical examination of the male is usually done on the first visit.  The physical exam will include an examination of the genital organs, with the doctor noting size, position and condition of the penis and testes.  A rectal exam is done to determine the size and consistency of the prostate gland and seminal vesicles.  The doctor will also note the development of secondary sex characteristics such as hair and fat distribution.

The Medical Evaluation of the Male

Semen Analysis – This is the first and most informative test done on the male.  An analysis can be done any time because a man is not cyclic as women are.  Abstinence from intercourse for 48 hours before the analysis is suggested.  Abstinence for a longer period than two days is not necessary.  For the semen analysis, the doctor will ask the man to masturbate a specimen into a sterile container.  This can be done at home and kept at body temperature and delivered to the lab for evaluation.   Then the laboratory will examine the specimen under a  microscope looking for the number of sperm present, how fast the sperm are swimming (motility) and the shape of  the sperm (morphology).

A fertile semen specimen should have at least 20 million sperm, with at least 50% of the sperm motile and 50-60% with good morphology.  Normal volume is 2-5 cc.

Several additional tests may be done on the male if the semen analysis is not normal.

Evaluation for a varicocele is done by palpating the scrotum while the man is bearing down or coughing.  The link between the presence of a varicocele and infertility is not clearly understood.  The most common theory is that the presence of a varicocele causes poor circulation which ultimately inhibits normal sperm production.

In the event of a subfertile semen analysis, a small biopsy of both testicles may be done.  This procedure is done in a hospital under local or general anesthesia.  The testicular tissue is examined in the laboratory.  This test can tell the doctor if there is an absolute infertile state with no sperm-producing tissue present, or blockage in the vas deferens indicated by the presence of normal testicular tissue yet little or no sperm in the ejaculate.

Finally, if a blockage in the vas deferens is suspected during a testicular biopsy, a vasography can be done to pinpoint the area of  the blockage.  This is an x-ray study in which dye is injected into the vas deferens and a series of x-rays are taken.

Once an infertility work-up is underway it is  important that the couple get the results of each test as they are done.  Couples should ask  their doctors for explanations if need be.  It is your body and you have a right to know what is being discovered.  Sometimes it is wise to make a consultation appointment with your doctor if you feel confused or upset about the tests end results.  This is especially important if the work-up has been going on for a long time or if there is a male factor  problem as well as a female one, which is being treated by another doctor.  It is easy to feel helpless and powerless during an infertility work-up.  Good communication with your doctor can help alleviate some of these feelings.

If men have a normal semen analysis, then the focus shifts to the female partner.  For men who have decreased sperm counts or abnormal motility, there are medications that can be given to enhance the number of sperm and methods to put the sperm in contact with the egg.

Bottom Line: Infertility is problem that impacts the lives of many young couples hoping to conceive a child.  The man is cause of the problem in 50% of infertile couples.  Help is available and much can be done to help a couple make their dreams come true.

Male Infertility-Tips To Putting a Little Vim and Vigor Into Your Sperm Count

May 9, 2010

Patients with infertility can have some control of their reproductive function by living healthy lifestyles. Often some negative lifestyles may be contributing to their infertility. Therefore, if patients live healthy lifestyles, it is possible that there will be some improvement in their reproductive function. There may not be conclusive evidence for all these lifestyle recommendations, but rarely will following these guidelines hurt, and often they may help:

  1. Avoid excessive heat (avoid waterbeds, saunas, hot tubs, etc.).
  2. Limit coffee to 1 or 2 cups per day.
  3. Do not smoke.
  4. Do not use marijuana, cocaine, or other recreational drugs. Marijuana stays in the testes for over 2 weeks; so even using it once every two weeks will have a negative effect.
  5. Exercise regularly and moderately.
  6. Drink no more than 2 ounces of alcohol twice per week. Alcohol is a male reproductive tract toxin, which associates with a decrease in the percentages of normal sperm. Female should abstain from alcohol if pregnant.
  7. Have good nutritional habits, especially a diet rich in fresh fruits and leafy vegetables (organically grown foods).
  8. Be aware of sexual problems and do not hesitate to ask for medical help.
  9. Infertile men should educate themselves about health and reproduction.
  10. Seek emotional and/or psychological support; consider meditation to reduce stress.

Key Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements: Taking certain vitamins (C, E, B12, etc.) may help improve your fertility. The mechanism of action is believed to be as follows: The breakdown of oxygen as it passes through the cells in our body results in substances known as free radicals. Infertile men have a higher concentration of free radicals in their semen as compared to fertile men. Free radicals attack and destroy the membrane that surrounds sperm. Anti-oxidants fight against these bad effects. Therefore, Vitamins are natural anti-oxidants!

I suggest you also take:

Vitamin C (500 mg/day). It helps to protect sperm against free radical damage. It also guards sperm from oxidative damage. Many studies show that supplement Vitamin C also improves the quality of sperm in smokers and reduces sperm agglutination (a condition when sperm stick together, then fertility is reduced.).

Vitamin E (400 IUS/day). Vitamin E has an important function as an antioxidant. Therefore, Vitamin E supplements can decrease and mop up enough free radicals to prevent the damage to sperm cells.

Selenium (200 mcgs/day). A double-blind study shown that selenium supplement can significantly increase sperm motility.

Multivitamins containing zinc (20 mg). Zinc plays an important role for the male reproductive system. A lack of zinc can effect the normal sperm production. For men with low testosterone, zinc supplements may raise testosterone levels and increase sperm production.

Bottom Line:  All of these recommendations may not have scientific merit but they certainly won’t hurt you or cause any deterioration of your sperm count.