Posts Tagged ‘semen analysis’

The Semen Analysis: There’s Even an App for That!

March 23, 2017

The first examination for male infertility is a history followed by a physical exam.  Next comes the semen analysis, where a single drop of seminal fluid is examined under the microscope.  The semen is examined for the number of sperm, the motility of the sperm, and the shape of the sperm.  This test is performed after 48 hours of abstinence and the cost is $75-$150 depending on the sophistication of the lab performing the test.

Soon it is possible to have an accurate sperm count in the privacy of your home and will be as easy as a home pregnancy test.

Researchers have developed a device costing less than $5 to make that attaches to your cellphone and provides a quick and easy semen analysis. The results in early testing are just as accurate as the elaborate computer-assisted semen analysis machines costing tens of thousands of dollars in measuring sperm concentration, sperm motility, total sperm count and total motile cells.

The device uses an optical attachment for magnification and a disposable microchip for handling the semen sample. With two lenses that require no manual focusing and an inexpensive battery, it slides onto the smartphone’s camera. Total cost for manufacturing the equipment: $4.45, including $3.59 for the optical attachment and 86 cents for the microfluidic chip that contains the semen sample.

The software is designed with a simple interface that guides the user through the test with onscreen prompts. After the sample is inserted, the app can photograph it, even create a video of the sperm motility and report the results in less than five seconds. The test results are stored on the phone so that semen quality can be monitored over time.  The results can be shared with the medical professional who is evaluating the man\couple for infertility.

Another application of the app is for men who have had a vasectomy and need to be certain that there is absolutely no sperm in the ejaculate following the procedure.  With this app, a man can perform his own semen analysis at home and email the result to the urologist to confirm permanent sterility

The Food and Drug Administration hopefully will approve the device within the next two years.

Bottom Line: Technology is making medical care easier and can be accomplished without being face to face with the doctor or even having to go to the doctor’s office.  This is the way modern medicine is going to be practiced.  Welcome to the new age of medical care.

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Turing On Your Laptop May Turn Off Your Sperm Count

September 28, 2016

Go onto any college campus or into any Starbucks and you see nearly every person pecking away on their computers.  Some men will balance their laptop computers on their laps.  As a result the heat from the laptop raise a man’s scrotal temperature a very small amount.  This small elevation of temperature, if done often enough, may decrease a man’s sperm count.

Elevated scrotal temperatures have been linked to poor sperm counts according to a study at New York University.  Other situations that can raise scrotal temperatures including hot baths, saunas, and the wearing of tight jockey shorts.

The study which was reported in the Journal of Human Reproduction measured the scrotal temperature every three minutes between men holding computers on their laps which were turned on and men holding computers which were left in the off position. Those men holding a working lap top computer had a 5 degrees Fahrenheit increase in scrotal temperature.  Also noted was that men with their thighs held close together had the greatest increase in scrotal temperature. The researchers concluded that “Working on laptop computers in a laptop position causes significant scrotal temperature elevation as a result of heat exposure and posture-related effects.”

The main question is the increase in temperature enough to impair male fertility? The researchers didn’t conclude the connection between laptop use and sperm counts. However, the authors noted that another study showed that sperm concentration dropped by 40% when median daytime scrotal temperature rose by 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bottom Line:  I know for sure that more heat to the scrotal area is going to be deleterious for sperm production.  Therefore, I suggest that young men or men in the fertility age group may want to limit their use of laptop computers on their laps.

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.

Stress Getting You Down-It May Also Be Affecting A Man’s Fertility

May 19, 2013

Stress just may have an impact on a man’s sperm quality. Men with higher levels of stress and anxiety have lower sperm counts. Also those with the highest anxiety levels were also more like to have sperm that are less motile or have the ability to swim through the cervical canal to find an egg in the tubes connecting the ovary to the uterus. This report appeared in the February 13, 2013 issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Bottom Line: Want to have a baby and your partner is not getting pregnant? Then consider chilling out and find ways to reduce your stress level. It just may help those sperm reach the egg and get your family started. If you have questions regarding male infertility, see your urologist and get a semen analysis. It’s a test that every couple with an infertility problem should do.

Your Chance of Having a Baby Decreases If You Are a Couch Potato

April 23, 2013

A study has lined time watching viewing TV to a decrease in sperm quality in young men. This study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine (February 4, 2013) revealed a positive association between physical activity and sperm quality. Study participants reported their TV viewing habits and the estimated number of hours and physical activity engaged in for the previous three months. The report demonstrated that men who engaged in the most moderate to vigorous physical activity and those who watched the least TV had the highest sperm counts.

Bottom Line: Want to improve your chance of having a baby? Get off of the couch and get moving!

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.

Men, Start Your Engines…Take The Road To Good Health

July 8, 2012

Unfortunately, men, including myself, often have the attitude that if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  As a result men don’t take as good care of their health as they should.  There are some men who will spend more time, energy, and money taking care of their cars than they do of the wonderful machine called their body.  Men seldom see a doctor after they leave their pediatrician’s office at age 20 and never get medical, and especially preventive health care until they over 50 years.  That’s 30 years or a third of your life without any fine-tuning or maintenance.  Is it any wonder that our bodies breakdown in middle age?  It doesn’t have to be that way.  In this blog I will summarize an article, 6 Questions to Ask Your Doctor, by Dr. Matt McMillin that appeared in WebMD the Magazine on July 8, 2012

Your Diet

But eating right most of the time is an essential part of taking care of yourself. No matter how much you work out you can’t maintain a healthy weight unless you stick to a healthy diet. So be sure to satisfy your appetite with good-for-you foods, and make an effort to keep an eye on calories.

Men are often surprised that even though they are exercising four days a week, they are not losing weight. It’s all about portion control.  For example many men drink beer. To burn off the 150 calories in one can of beer, the typical man needs to jog a mile in less than 10 minutes or do 15 minutes of stair climbing.

Exercise

It’s simple: To get or stay fit, you have to get and stay active. According to the latest federal guidelines, that means a cardio workout of at least 30 sweat-inducing minutes five days a week, plus two days of dumbbell workouts or other weight-training activity to build and maintain muscles. Crunched for time? Kick up the intensity to vigorous exercise, such as jogging, riding a bike fast, or playing singles tennis, and you can get your cardio workout in just 25 minutes three days a week.

Exercise protects against so many conditions — from heart disease to colon cancer to depression — that the best choice is to start exercising now, no matter how healthy you are or think you are. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, see your doctor first and get medical clearance before engaging in a good exercise program.  I also suggest that you read the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Ledge, M.D.  This book will give you the motivation and the schedule for a real get-in-shape program consisting of diet and exercise. 

 

Stress Reduction

Stress is harmful. It can wreak havoc on your sex drive, increase your blood pressure, and overwork your heart. Here’s the facts: middle-aged and older men who reported years of moderate to high levels of stress were more than 40% more likely to die than men with low stress.

One of the best stress busters is exercise.  You might also try yoga or meditation in addition to exercise.

The D word-Depression

At least 6 million men in the United States suffer from depression each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. However, many guys don’t like to talk about their feelings or ask for help. Identifying those problems is a crucial part of any man’s checkup. Depression is more than simply feeling sad, unmotivated, and without energy. Depression is a real illness, and it can be life-threatening. That’s especially true for men, because it increases the risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Depression is also the leading cause of suicide — and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives.

A lot of men are reluctant to discuss their feelings with friends, spouses, their clergyman\woman, or their doctor. Identifying those problems is a crucial part of any man’s checkup. Depression is more than simply feeling sad, unmotivated, and without energy. Depression is a real illness, and it can be life-threatening. That’s especially true for men, because it increases the risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Depression is also the leading cause of suicide — and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives. “I discuss how common it is so they see they are not isolated,” says White, who screens men for depression during their annual checkups. “Too often, it takes until they reach the end of their rope before they come to see you about it.” Depression is also the leading cause of suicide — and men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives. Medication, exercise, and therapy are all treatment options.

Get your zzzz’s-sleep

It’s hard to overestimate sleep’s importance. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are all linked to insufficient sleep, as are excess weight and mood disorders. A recent study showed that young men who skimp on shut-eye have lower levels of testosterone than men who are well-rested. Lower testosterone translates to a decrease in sex drive and sexual performance including impotence or erectile dysfunction.  Meanwhile, older men risk high blood pressure if they don’t get enough deep sleep.

Sleep disorders can also have physical causes. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), for example, disrupts breathing and forces you to wake up to draw a deep breath. It affects an estimated 4% to 9% of middle-aged men (twice the rate in women), yet as many as 90% of cases go undiagnosed. OSA raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure as well as car crashes, which are more common among the sleep-deprived.

You can vastly improve your sleep by practicing good sleep hygeine: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, exercise regularly and early in the day, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening, don’t eat large meals at night, skip the alcohol right before bedtime, and use the bedroom for sleep and sex only. If these measures don’t help, see your doctor.

Good Health Equals Good Sex

 Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a concern that goes beyond the bedroom.  Years ago, ED was thought to be just a psychological problem or do to testosterone deficiency.  Now we know that ED is most a problem of disease in the blood supply to the penis and now we have learned that ED is a risk factor for heart disease.  Men with ED are twice as likely to have a heart attack and nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease than other men. Men who have trouble with erections tend to be overweight or obese, and to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The younger you are, the more likely your erectile dysfunction is a sign that you are at risk of heart disease.

Many of the men White sees for ED ask for quick fixes such as erection-enhancing drugs like Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis. For a long-term solution, you need to make some lifestyle changes. Sexual health depends on getting and staying fit, physically and mentally.  Yes, Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis will help but the real solution is to get fit and open up those blood vessels to the heart and also to penis.  Your heart and your sexual partner will thank you.

Bottom Line:  Men, you can’t buy good health.  It doesn’t come in a bottle or with one visit to the doctor’s office.  It comes with discipline, hard work, and the commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle.  Good health is within reach of every man.  Get off of the couch and into the pool, on to the jogging track, or into the gym.  You can thank me latter!

Dr. Neil Baum is a physician in New Orleans and the co-author of ECNETOPMI-Impotence It’s Reversible.

Why O “Y” Has My Sperm Gone: Male Infertility

January 5, 2012

Did you know that a man’s sperm production is tied to his ability to have male offspring? When sperm counts decrease, so do the Y chromosomes and it is the Y chromosome that is responsible for siring a son.

In the past it was always thought that having an X chromosome on the sperm made girls and Y made boys and it was just a mere 50-50 coin flip. Now a recent study from Stanford University has demonstrated that men having a low sperm count, or less than five million sperm per cubic centimeter, had fewer Y chromosome and thus less likely to have male offspring.

The next study is going to look at whether treatments that are used to increase sperm counts may affect the ratio of X to Y chromosomes.

Will keep you posted on this piece of important information!

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.