Male infertility is estimated to account for 40% of the fertility issues treated worldwide affecting 1 in every 6 couples. 20% of cases are due solely to male factor and a further 20% are due to a combination of male and female.
Causes of Male Infertility: inadequate sperm production by the testes, poor sperm motility, varicocele (dilated veins in the scrotum), undescended testis/testes, excessive xenoestrogen (environmental estrogen) exposure, infectious disease of the epidydimis (storage tube for sperm), testes, seminal vesicles, urethra, prostate or vas; benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlargement), endocrine (glandular) diseases affecting the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals and the testes (e.g. low DHEA and low testosterone levels), congenital abnormalities, urethral stricture, malnutrition, especially protein deficiency.
Heat: It is reasonable to note the testes are designed to hang out of the body to allow for a slightly lower than body temperature and exposure to heat for any prolonged periods should be avoided such as; hot baths and saunas, wear boxers (not briefs) and loose fitting trousers, and taking care not to engage in long-distance bicycle riding or wear biker shorts for long periods.
Live healthy: It is reasonable to follow some basic rules which will help you generally.
Eat a healthy diet. Choose plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants — and might help improve sperm health.
Manage stress. Stress can decrease sexual function and interfere with the hormones needed to produce sperm. Complimentary therapy may help you relax.
Maintain a healthy weight. Some research suggests that obesity negatively affects sperm quality, reducing both sperm count and sperm movement. Sexual libido and frequency of intercourse will also be affected. Exercise regularly.
Practice safe sex. Sexually transmitted infections — such as chlamydia and gonorrhea — are a leading cause of infertility for both men and women and best to stay in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner or ensure condoms are used outside the relationship.
Avoid nicotine, alcohol, drugs and caffeine: Excesses of these will reduce the sperm count and sperm motility.
Although commercially available preparation such as ProxeedPlus and others exist, they aim to encompass basic vitamins and co-factors which may have found associations with sperm count, motility and morphology and the findings atre not necessarily performed in a controlled environment.
In these preparations you may find selenium, zinc, vitamin E, C, folic acid, Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10, L-carnithine and lycopene. Most of these can be gained naturally by improving your diet or taking less expensive preparations containing these products. Possible functions and actions of some of these elements are:
Selenium. Selenium scavenges free radicals in the body and is used by the testes to make selenoproteins, a vital protein required in sperm production. Well formed sperm are more likely to be more motile (improved sperm motility). Foods rich in selenium include brazil nuts, eggs, garlic and seafood.
Zinc. Low Zinc levels affect sperm motility, sperm quality and sperm counts. Foods rich in Zinc include seafood (particularly oysters!), liver, lean cuts of red meat, nuts and grains.
Vitamin E. Vitamin E protects against free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules which damage sperm cells and cause them to become immotile. Foods rich in Vitamin E include Asparagus. Avocado, Eggs, Milk, Nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, Seeds, Spinach and other green leafy vegetables, Unheated vegetable oils, Wheat germ, Wholegrain foods. Vitamin E can improve Sperm Motility.
Folic Acid: Supplementing the diet with folic acid and zinc can have a significant effect on improving semen quality in sub-fertile me. Folic acid and zinc in the right amounts are known to be essential to the creation of both DNA and sperm in sub-fertile men. It is worth bearing in mind that damaged sperm DNA can be repaired when inside the egg.
HERBAL: Ensure herbal medicine derived from endangered species or by unethical methods both from humans and animals such as rhino horn, shark fin etc are NOT taken and should be REFUSED.
Taking herbs such as Maca Root and Ginger may improve sperm count and sperm motility. Both are non-toxic herbs which have been used by Traditional Chinese Medicine and South American Medicine, to improve male fertility. They are believed to be particularly beneficial for improving sperm motility.
Some herbs have been claimed for improving erections, sexual desire, blood flow to the sexual organs and general sexual health with virtually no side-effects: panax ginseng (Korean ginseng), ginkgo biloba extract, nutmeg, muira puama, rhodiola rosea, saw palmetto berry, horny goat weed, elk antler velvet, Tribulus terrestris.
Reduce chemical exposure
The semen of the average man today has half the sperm, and of poorer quality, than 50 years ago.
This is believed to be caused by exposure to xenoestrogens (PCBs, DDT, dioxin, other pesticides, plastics and industrial pollutants) that mimic the effects of estrogen.
You can prevent or minimize the impact of xenoestrogens on your health by doing the following: avoid plastic containers for food storage, plastic bottles, wraps and utensils; use office paper products whitened without chlorine; use only non-bleached coffee filters, paper, napkins and toilet tissue to reduce dioxin exposure; avoid chlorinated tap water, chlorine bleach and other chlorinated products; use hydrogen peroxide as an alternative; eat organic food as much as possible to avoid pesticides and herbicides; avoid synthetic deodorants and cosmetics; use only organic products whenever possible; avoid animal products with a high fat content that contain hormones, especially conventional milk and dairy products, and meats; avoid alcohol and caffeine; avoid fried, charcoal-broiled or barbecued forms of cooking. Cancer disease and treatments are known to affect semen quality adversely.
Finally, it takes 74 days for the sperm cell to mature and therefore one must be patient if change in the sperm quality has to become evident. There needs to be a wholesome change in the lifestyle. Before attempting remedies, it is important to rule out any underlying treatable medical conditions.
We currently lack evidence based information and therefore cannot endorse any specific method to improve sperm quality. The information provided is for individuals to use sensibly against the backdrop of their lifestyles. Prudent approach would suggest priority should be given to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Mr Gulam Bahadur