FertilityCare together with NaproTechnology can help men with sperm quality issues, please share with FertilityCare your current situation by filling up this form and FertilityCare will follow up with you
By Jeanne Stoll, RN, CFCP, FCE
Many practitioners struggle with how to work with couples experiencing male infertility problems. There are a variety of issues, tests, and lab results that a couple may present, which can cause confusion and concern.
In 40% of infertile couples, the male is the only cause or a contributing cause to the inability of the couple to achieve a pregnancy. So, it makes sense to suggest initially checking out the male when a couple has been trying to conceive for a year, or six months with fertility-focused intercourse. Male testing is generally less expensive and invasive.
If a man goes to the urologist to find out what might be going on, the doctor will usually start with a medical and reproductive history, and look into any past surgeries and current medications. The doctor will also consider lifestyle influences such as exercise and smoking. There will also be a frank discussion about his sexual life and possible STD’s.
Every evaluation will include a sample of semen for analysis. Rather than collect this by an act of masturbation at the office or lab (which is morally wrong), the sample can be obtained by a normal act of intercourse with the “Male Factor Pak” (see below for more info). After the sample is collected, it is immediately taken to the lab within one hour for analysis.
The following are some tests that may be performed for the male:
1. Sperm and Semen Analysis: an assessment of the man’s sperm count, their shape, movement and other variables. If the first test is normal, a second test may be ordered to confirm results. If tests are abnormal, the doctor can order further tests. If no sperm are present in the semen (Azoospermia), it could suggest a blockage in the vessels (vas deferens) that can be corrected with surgery.
2. Physical Exam: a physical exam can detect a varicocele and find clues to hormone problems, and testicle size can be measured. These tests should be performed by a urologist.
3. Hormone Evaluation: Testosterone and other hormones control sperm production, although hormones are not the main problem in 97% of infertile men.
4. Genetic Testing: genetic tests can identify obstacles to fertility and problems with sperm. Doctors differ on when these tests should be performed.
5. Sperm Antibodies: Some men make abnormal antibodies against their own sperm, which attack the sperm on the way to the egg, thus inhibiting fertilization.
In some men, sperm production is normal in the testicles, but the problem is getting the sperm to go where they need to go. The sperm in the semen (fluid) are missing, very low or abnormal.
Several things that can cause this are: A) retrograde ejaculation – the sperm ejaculate backward into the bladder, usually caused by a previous surgery B) Absence of the vas deferens – agenetic problem some men are born with C) Obstruction – could be anywhere between the testicles and the penis. Tests can be performed to confirm any of the previous problems.
Varicoceles (varicose veins) are the most common cause of correctable male infertility, found in 38% of cases. Abnormal formations of the veins above the testicle can be fixed with surgery.
25% of infertile men have abnormal or low sperm counts for no known reason, called idiopathic infertility. By thorough testing, 85% of couples can get to the bottom of what is causing infertility.
A good male exam, along with NaProTechnology is the best offense to find the root cause of the couple’s infertility.
Normal sperm analysis results: Sperm count is the number of sperm/cc of semen collected. The amount of semen ejaculated at one time can vary from less than one cc to 6-7 cc’s. The test looks at how many sperm are in the semen. Twenty million to one-hundred-fifty million per cc is normal. Morphology refers to the shape of the sperm. Sperm are analyzed to see how many are shaped and formed properly. Normal is when 40% or more of the sperm are shaped correctly. Motility describes the movement of the sperm. It is best when the sperm move forward, not in circles or sluggish. Normal is when 20% show progressive movement.
Some infections can interfere with sperm production, sperm health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. STD’s like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea can be the culprits along with inflammation of the prostrate and inflamed testicles due to the mumps (mumps orchitis).
Tumors, both benign and malignant, can affect glands that release hormones related to reproduction. Also, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to treat tumors can affect male fertility.
Many people wonder if it is possible to increase sperm production. According to the Mayo Clinic website, there are many things a man can do to increase his sperm count:
1. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can decrease sperm quality and quantity.
3. Manage stress, which can interfere with hormones needed to produce sperm.
4. Increase physical activity daily.
5. Stay cool. Sperm are vulnerable to environmental factors like increased heat and toxic chemicals. Don’t wear tight underwear or athletic shorts. If you bike for long hours, take frequent breaks. Avoid hot tubs, saunas and steamy baths. Don’t lay the laptop on your lap.
6. Don’t smoke. Smokers are more likely to have low sperm counts. Smoking can cause sperm to be misshapen and to have decreased movement.
7. Limit alcohol intake.
8. Stay clear of illegal drugs.
9. Avoid lubricants during intercourse. If you must, use vegetable, safflower or peanut oil or Pre-Seed Lubricant.
10. Be cautious with medications you take.
11. Watch out for toxins like pesticides and lead. If you work with these, wear protective clothing and avoid skin contact.
To arrange for a Semen Analysis in Singapore
References: WebMD website, Mayo Clinic website, Just Mommies website.