Archive for the ‘sperm count’ Category

Sperm Counts Really Do Count-Improving Sperm Quality

March 24, 2015

Infertility affects 24% of couples wishing to have a baby. Nearly 1\3 are due to female causes, 1\3 to male causes, and 1\3 are due to both the man and the female partner. Therefore, men are involved in 2\3 of the problems that are responsible for failure to achieve a pregnancy. The first test for any man is the semen analysis. This test is obtained after two days of abstinence or no ejaculation and submitted for a sperm count, sperm movement or motility, and the shape of the sperm.

The world’s largest study on the effects of lifestyle on the quality of sperm has been published this week, with some surprising findings.
Researchers at the universities of Manchester and Sheffield found that smoking cannabis can have a severe effect on male fertility, yet other lifestyle choices such as drinking alcohol and wearing tight briefs were not considered to cause problems, despite earlier reports suggesting otherwise.

Sperm quality has been in decline for decades, and scientists seem unable to make up their minds as to the exact causes, citing everything from smoking to an increased exposure to estrogen.
The latest evidence is good news for jockstrap-wearers and bad news for dope smokers, but how else can you improve your sperm count? Here are five recommendations from leading experts:

1. Eat red food
Last month a report published by Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, following analysis of 12 studies conducted by different groups around the world, found that consumption of lycopene improved the quality, mobility and volume of sperm dramatically, increasing sperm count by up to 70 per cent. Lycopene is an essential nutrient found commonly in red fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, strawberries, cherries and peppers.

2. Lay off the laptop
A 2011 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility suggested there could be a link between using a laptop with a Wi-Fi connection and a reduction in sperm quality. Sperm samples from 29 men were stored normally and under a laptop connected to WiFi. The sperm stored under the laptop became more sluggish and showed signs of DNA damage.

3. Get off your bike
Cycling has myriad health benefits, but not when it comes to your sperm. A 2009 Spanish study found that a prolonged spell on your bike can severely affect the shape and quality of your sperm. After monitoring 15 Spanish triathletes with an average age of 33 the study found that those men that cycled 300 kilometers a week (about 160 miles) – had dered a fertility problem.

4. Keep your cool
The optimum temperature for sperm production is 34.5 degrees celsius, which is slightly below body temperature. A three-year University of California study in 2007 found that five out of 11 men who stopped taking hot baths (including saunas) experienced a sperm count rise of almost 500 per cent.

5. Drink coffee – Go For Joe-but not too much
In 2003, researchers from Sao Paolo University in Brazil studied 750 men and concluded that drinking coffee can improve the swimming speed, or motility, of human sperm, although whether this means pregnancy rates are higher among coffee drinkers is unclear.

Bottom Line: Men are part and parcel of the baby making equation. If you have any questions, see your urologist and start with a sperm count.

Male Infertility-Some Low Cost Practical Solutions

December 27, 2014

Infertility is a common problem affecting many American couples. One-third are due to the woman who may have a gynecologic problem, one-third due to male factor, and one-third due to a combination of both the man and the woman. This blog will discuss the treatment and solutions for male factor infertility.

Keeping Mobile Phone in Pocket
A finding by some researchers at the University of Exeter in England showed that keeping mobile phone in the front pocket which is near the scrotum could affect sperm quality. They found out that exposure to cell phone radiation lowers sperm motility or movement by 8% and viability of the sperm by 9%. This finding is still a controversial one but it would be safer to keep away mobile phones from the pocket as much as possible. Therefore, my recommendation is to keep your mobile phone out of your trouser pocket. I also suggest that you do not text holding your phone at waist level.

Heavy Drinking
It is said that alcohol affects the body’s ability to absorb zinc which is a nutrient vital for healthy sperm. It’s still unclear what quantity of alcohol is bad but it’s advisable to stay away from it as much as possible, especially heavy drinking.

Oxidative Stress
Another thing that can cause male infertility is oxidative stress. This is linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, diet, pollutants, smoking and alcohol. Taking antioxidant supplements such as vitamin E, vitamin C, folic acid etc. is said to increase fertility.

Poor Diet
A healthy diet will help maintain a healthy sperm count and an poor diet otherwise. It is advisable that men eat foods that will guarantee the general health of the body such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and a minimum of red meat.

Excessive Exercise
Exercise is good for the body but its excess especially when it is combined with body building steroids can decrease the production of testosterone and thereby lower sperm count.

Frequent Sex
Too much sex can decrease the quality of sperm cells. It is advised that couples wishing to conceive should limit intercourse to every two or three days.

Exposure To Heat
Heat from laptops, wearing tight underpants and other things that could increase the temperature around the testicles could cause low sperm count. As much as possible, it is advised that the general crotch area should be kept cool and men use boxer underwear.

Untreated Infection
When STIs are not treated on time, it could result in infertility. Chlamydia infection, gonorrhea, mumps etc can affect fertility and even cause sterility.

Exposure to Pesticides and other Chemicals
It has been found that exposure to harmful chemicals can affect sperm quality and quantity. Agricultural workers and fumigators in Nigeria need to be mindful of this. Some other chemicals like paints, adhesives and coatings have also been found to double the risk of fertility problems. Men working with chemicals are therefore advised to wear the appropriate protective gear and reduce their exposure to the chemicals as much as possible.

Doping
Sniffing drugs like cocaine and cannabis can impair fertility in males. It is said that cannabis seems to have a dramatic effect on sperm quality. Some prescribed drugs can also affect fertility; it is advised that a man seeking to conceive should consult the doctor before taking any drug.

Bottom Line: Other things that could cause male infertility include stress, aging, radiation (x-rays, radiotherapy etc.), and obesity. With this understanding, it would be wise for men especially those seeking offspring to take note of the things that could be responsible for infertility so that they can play their part in making sure they also reproduce in life.

Where Have All the Young Sperm Gone? Decreasing Fertility of the Millennial Man

July 17, 2013

Normal appearing male sperm

Normal appearing male sperm


Where Have All the Young Sperm Gone? Decreasing Fertility of the Millennial Man
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (Tuesday July 16, 2013) points out that there by a “sperm crisis” because they believe men’s sperm counts have been decreasing for a decade or more.

A 15 year study in France reported that the sperm concentration of men decreased by nearly one-third between 1989 and 2005. In the U.S., some historical data suggest a decrease in sperm count among American men, but no published recent data exist.
Suspected causes include exposure to pesticides, endocrine-disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol A and lifestyle habits like sitting for too long contribute to the proposed sperm crisis. Also, I reported how men who use lap top computers on top of their genitals for long periods of time, increase the heat to the testicles and the cells that are responsible for sperm production.

In general, men produce upward of 60 million sperm per milliliter of semen. As long as the count is roughly greater than 40 million per ml, men are considered fertile and have the same chance of getting their partners pregnant as someone who produces a higher count. But below that threshold and particularly under about 20 million per ml, their ability to conceive decreases.

Accumulating evidence suggests that early life influences make a difference. Some researchers say that there is a vulnerable period, perhaps between eight and 14 weeks of gestation, in which influences are irreversible. One of the most robust links with decreased sperm count is maternal smoking during pregnancy.

The male’s own current marijuana use was also linked to lower sperm count.

In additional to maternal smoking, there are environmental and lifestyle factors that can affect sperm count which include: shampoos containing phthalates found in plastic bottles, sedentary jobs especially for over hours at a time, hot water such as frequent hot baths which increase scrotal temperature, fatty food appear to contribute to a low count but this impact is potentially reversible.

Bottom Line: By adopting a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle in pregnancy, you can give your developing baby the very best start in life which will minimize the risk of future decreases in sperm counts.

Sperm Counts May Decrease With Excessive TV Watching

February 6, 2013
Watching TV may be relaxing but it may affect your sperm count and your fertility

Watching TV may be relaxing but it may affect your sperm count and your fertility

Men, here’s another reason to work up a sweat: It boosts your sperm count.

Couch potatoes who watch lots of TV have fewer sperm than men who exercise moderately or vigorously each week.

Men who reported exercising more than 15 hours a week had 73 percent higher sperm counts than men who exercised fewer than 5 hours a week. And men who watched more than 20 hours of TV had 44 percent lower sperm counts than men who watched little to no TV.

It is possible that exercise produces more antioxidant enzymes that can prevent a natural process called oxidative stress from damaging cell membranes in the body. This damage can disrupt the creation of new sperm cells. Another possibility is that when men watch TV, their scrotums get squished against their bodies, making that region hotter and possibly preventing new sperm from being made.

Research has shown that sperm production slows if the scrotum temperature rises 1.8 to 3.6ºF (1 to 2ºC) above normal body temperature.

Bottom Line: If you want to improve your sperm count, you should get active and get off of the couch.

Nuts For Your Nuts!-Walnuts and Sperm Quality

November 5, 2012
Walnuts For Your Testicles

Walnutes May Improve Sperm Counts

Eating just 2.5 ounces of walnuts per day can improve your testicles ability to produce quality sperm. Walnuts contain high quantities omega-3 fatty acids which some studies have linked to improved sperm quality.

This study appeared in the journal Biology of Reproduction in August 2012. I might also add that the California Walnut Commission sponsored the study.

Bottom Line: For men with abnormal or low sperm counts and are trying to achieve a pregnancy, consider a handful of walnuts every day. It may not help but it certainly won’t hurt.

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.

 

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.