Male Infertility, under the Microscope
So, if I asked you what Andrology is, would you know…… anyone ?
If I asked you what gynaecology is ? Yes, of course, everyone knows what gynaecology is.
So, if 50% of fertility problems are female and 50% are male, why do we all know what gynaecology is and not andrology ? This got me wondering, especially after watching Rhod Gilbert on Stand Up to Infertility which was shown on the BBC recently.
Is it because us as women, we tend to be more open about our issues, fertility or otherwise ? Are we more inclined to get things checked out with our doctors ? Are we more inclined to try all methods including complimentary therapies like Reflexology and Acupuncture ? Is it because fertility clinics can bypass men’s issues with advanced techniques like ICSI and Tesa so there is no need to get a more advanced check with an Andrologist ?
I think the answer is all of them and as a result, there is very little support for men who are faced with fertility issues.
And, the thing is, if a couple are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year, or if they are over 35 and have been trying for 6 months with no success, you need to get checked out. Getting the semen analysis done first is a quick, non-invasive test which will easily help to rule out issues from the male perspective before commencing on the more invasive procedures that women go through.
So, what is a Semen Analysis ?
This is a test which gives detailed information on sperm quantity and quality and therefore, your fertility potential. In the test they look at the following;
- That the ejaculate is the right PH of 7.2. A higher reading can indicate an obstruction or absence of sperm ducts
- The Morphology of the sperm i.e. the shape and size of the sperm. There needs to be above 4% of normal looking sperm.
- The Motility i.e. the most forward moving sperm. Above 40% is normal
- Sperm concentration should contain at least 15M/ml (millions per millimetre) of sperm
- Other cells such as white blood cells which could indicate an infection which can be treatable with antibiotics
- Anti-sperm antibodies which if in high concentration can make it difficult for the sperm to fertilise the egg.
Another bit of interesting information is that a poor semen result can be indicative of other underlying health issues such as diabetes, kidney failure and liver disease.
So, what can you do to improve things ??
- Keep your tackle cool by wearing loose fitting underwear and trousers
- Don’t use your laptop on your lap
- Do not take hot baths
- Smoking cigarettes and other substances can cause genetic damage thus affecting fertility
- Alcohol consumption especially in high quantities can affect sperm quality
- Caffeine intake has been shown to contribute adversely to sperm quality
- Taking recreational drugs is a no no
- Some medicines either prescribed by your GP or the pharmacy can affect male fertility. So check with your GP if you are trying for a baby
- Maintaining a healthy body weight by eating a balanced and if possible, organic diet (avoid pesticides)
- Cutting back on processed meats
- Eating a diet high in dairy can have an adverse affect on sperm
- Stress can have a limiting affect on sperm production by affecting hormones
- Moderate exercise will help
- To boost your fertility, have a daily handful of walnuts
- Be aware that men have a biological clock too !
- Anabolic steroids can have a severe affect on sperm production
- Cycling can have a negative impact on male fertility with the heat generated “down there” whilst on a cycle
- Taking Omega 3’s has been shown to improve sperm quality
From a Fertility Reflexologists point of view, Fertility Reflexology is great for first of all, reducing stress levels in the body and secondly, for stimulating the reproductive reflex points.
So, If you are looking for support with Male Infertility, Rhod Gilbert has set up a website called HIMFERTILITY.com It gives lots of information on tackling the issue of Male Infertility.
Watch Rhod chat about Male Infertilty below
Rhod Gilbert Speaks about Men's Fertility Struggles
If you are looking for support, you can also join Rhod’s group on facebook. Here’s the link