Infertility is generally looked upon as a woman’s issue, even though up to 40% of infertility cases are due to male factor infertility or sub-fertility. Even in cases where infertility has specifically been diagnosed due to female fertility issues, it is important to remember that it takes two to, er, tango and that preserving and improving male fertility is always of importance. Healthy, strong sperm will make a big difference to success rates regardless of the precise fertility issue. Previous Fertility Friday posts regarding nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle choices apply to men as well as women, regardless of whether a diagnosis has been made or not in order to ensure optimal sperm health for the creation of the healthiest possible baby, as well as increasing chances of conception.
“Your sperm say a lot about you. Scientists can now tell what you’ve been eating, what chemicals you’ve been exposed to, and, of course, what your chances are of making a baby, all from that sample you gave in the private room with the magazines”*
Main causes of male factor infertility
Issues with male factor infertility can occur at any stage from sexual problems, obstruction, inability for the sperm to tolerate the cervical environment, sub-optimal quality or motility and sperm defects. All of these causes except physical obstruction can be significantly improved through implementing dietary and lifestyle changes alongside using natural therapies. I have treated numerous clients who came to me having been told that their sperm quality was not good enough for IVF, seeing their sperm count and quality rise substantially following regular reflexology sessions. These changes are quantifiable through regular (fertility) medical tests.
low sperm count / concentration: a sperm count of less than 20 million per millimeter of semen is considered to be the lowest count for fertilisation to occur. A sperm count of 60 – 70 million per millimeter is considered to be a very good count.
low motility : sperm needs to be able to swim up through the cervix, up into the uterus and fallopian tubes in order to meet and fertilise with an egg. Low motility means that the sperm are not able to swim effectively.
defective sperm: this is one of the main causes of male infertility and is largely determined by overall health status. All of the lifestyle suggestions made in previous Fertility Friday posts are extremely relevant here, as are such issues as excessive heat (such as hot baths and saunas), wearing tight underwear, cycling on non-male anatomy formed saddles.
morphology (shape): some sperm may have a defective shape of some sort.
obstruction of the ducts: refers to any physical obstruction in the ducts between the testes and the urethra. This can lead to a lack of sperm in the ejaculated semen.
testicular varicocele: this is a dilated vein in the scrotum which results in overheating in the testicles thereby reduced sperm count and motility.
hormonal imbalances: low testosterone levels lead to reduced or lack of sperm production.
sexual problems: these include anything from low libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation difficulties.
Ongoing medical problems and genetic defects are also possible causes.
How to boost male fertility
All dietary and lifestyle changes highlighted in previous Fertility Friday posts as well as upcoming posts are essential to increasing male fertility. Simply making these changes can bring about a massive change.
Regular treatments with natural therapies such as reflexology and acupuncture prove to be highly beneficial both physically and mentally. Problems with fertility, whether male or female can be extremely difficult to deal with, bringing about a range of emotions , especially in the case of male fertility issues where the support network is often reduced and sense of personal failure and guilt is often more difficult to express and accept. Support on this journey is essential for a successful outcome. Working with a holistic nutritionist or naturopath is equally important to ensure an optimal diet, rule out any food intolerances that could be affecting overall health and to help guide you on optimising your fertility lifestyle.
In cases where couples have been trying to conceive for about a year without a positive result and would like to have some medical tests done, it is important for the man to get tested as well as the woman. Your efforts and fertility plan will be much more effective once you have the whole picture.
Are your fertility issues directly related to male fertility? Have you established a comprehensive and fully supported fertility plan?