It is estimated that male fertility problems account for approximately 40% of all cases of fertility, including situations where there is a combination of male and female infertility. Research, especially in the area of nutrition and acupuncture, is showing that various changes in lifestyle and certain treatments can improve male fertility. This article describes possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis and natural treatment of male infertility.
These are general guidelines, and it is important that you consult your doctor for a specific treatment for each case in order to improve their health and fertility. An important note: any therapy to improve male fertility must be used for at least three months to verify that there is an improvement.
Possible causes of male infertility
The most important marker for male fertility is the number of sperm found regularly in the ejaculate . Men are more likely to be fertile with sperm count of 48 million per milliliter of semen and are less likely with lower counts 13.5 million, but healthy fertile men are expected to have 100 million count, or more.
Unfortunately, we know that, for a number of possible reasons, most of them related to the environment, the sperm count of men is declining.
Men should be aware that eating non-organic foods, especially animal products such as chicken meat, could lower their sperm count, while occupational exposure to industrial chemicals and pesticides can cause male infertility. In both cases, men are at risk of exposure to xeno-estrogens, byproducts of an increasingly polluted world.
The xeno-estrogens introduced synthetic estrogen in the body of men, and this can interfere dramatically in their ability to produce sperm. In Britain, ecologists have discovered that males freshwater fish are becoming "feminized" (developing smaller testes and began to produce substances normally found in the female reproductive system, becoming unable to reproduce).
Other issues include the effect on fertility of exposure to pesticides, heavy metals and radiation. Reproductive health is clearly vulnerable to environmental toxins in the industrialized world.
There are other possible causes of male infertility, such as trauma caused by contact sports or injuries, infections affecting the reproductive tract, and lifestyle habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
Too much heat generated around the testicles can reduce sperm count and motility. Male cyclists are at risk of this, as are the men who wear shorts instead of boxers, who sit for long periods of time, and who regularly use a computer and place it on your lap.
Obesity can also have a devastating effect on male fertility, as most obese men show lower levels in all sperm parameters, both count as motility and morphology.
Male infertility is usually caused by problems affecting either sperm production or sperm transport. Through medical tests, the doctor may be able to find the cause of the problem.
About two-thirds of infertile men have a problem with making sperm in the testicles. Whether a low sperm count and / or sperm that has produced does not work properly.
Problems of sperm transportation are found in approximately one in five infertile men, including men who have had a vasectomy but now want more children. Locks (often referred to as obstructions) in the tubes that carry sperm out of the testes to the penis can cause a complete lack of sperm in ejaculated semen.
Other less common causes of infertility include: sexual problems that determine whether sperm is able to get into the woman's vagina for fertilization (one in 100 infertile couples) to take place; low levels of hormones produced in the pituitary gland that act on the testes (one in 100 infertile men); and sperm antibodies (found in one of every 16 infertile men).
In most men, sperm antibodies not affect the possibility of pregnancy, but in some men's sperm antibodies reduce fertility.
Known causes of male infertility
Problems in sperm production
• Genetic or chromosomal causes
• Undescended testicles (birth defect)
• Torsion (twisted testicle in the scrotum)
• Varicocele (varicose veins in the testicles)
• Drugs and chemicals
• Radiation damage
Blocking of sperm transport
• Prostate related problems
• Absence of vas deferens
Sexual problems (erection problems and retrograde ejaculation)
• Retrograde and premature Ejaculation
• Erectile dysfunction
• Rare intercourse
• Spinal cord injury
• Prostate Surgery
• Nerve damage
• Some medications
• Pituitary Tumors
• Congenital lack of LH / FSH (pituitary problem from birth)
• Abuse of anabolic steroids (androgen)
• Injury or infection of the epididymis
How is male infertility diagnosed?
If a couple has been trying to conceive without success, they should go to their GP, family planning clinic or health clinic for women, and do some initial tests. The couple must be examined, even if one of them has a son from another relationship.
Diagnosis may include a medical history and physical examination of man, along with a semen analysis to check the number, shape and movement of sperm in the ejaculate.
They can also perform blood tests to check the levels of hormones that control the production of sperm. Genetic research and testicular biopsies often also conducted.
How is male infertility treated?
One in eight infertile men have a treatable condition, and after treatment, couples can become pregnant naturally.
In some cases, the doctor will recommend that the couple seek assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF (in vitro fertilization).
ART does not cure or treat the cause of infertility, but can help couples achieve pregnancy, even if the man's sperm count is very low.
What is ICSI?
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection into eggs (ICSI) is a form of IVF, where a single sperm is placed directly into each egg by piercing the outer cover. ICSI is particularly useful for men with low sperm production. Sperm are collected in the semen or carefully removed the testicle or epididymis.
ICSI can achieve pregnancies even with only a few sperm is produced. After fertilization the resulting embryos are then placed in the woman's uterus.
The best and simplest change in lifestyle recommended to patients is to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that at every meal, half the plate consists of fruits and / or vegetables. This simple but very effective way to make a big difference in the overall health and fertility.
In addition to the effects of improving diet, nutritional have been many studies showing the effect of nutrient supplementation on fertility.
Male fertility has been specially studied, mainly because it is much easier to measure sperm count, motility and morphology, and therefore is also easy to control the effect of supplementation.
These are the nutrients most commonly prescribed to treat male infertility :
Vitamin C and selenium:
As antioxidants, vitamin C and selenium are known for their ability to neutralize free radicals, molecules that damage the body's cells. We know that sperm are sensitive to free radicals because they are dependent on the integrity of the cell membrane of sperm. It is through the cell membrane that free radical causes its damage. With supplements of selenium and vitamin C, sperm has protection against this damage. Vitamin C also helps prevent clumping of sperm.
Zinc is probably the most critical trace mineral for male fertility. It is involved in almost every aspect of male reproduction including hormone metabolism, sperm formation and motility of sperm. A zinc deficiency can result in decreased levels of testosterone and sperm count.
Arginine is an amino acid needed in the replication of cells, and is considered important in male fertility. Studies have shown that L-arginine improves the sperm count and motility without side effects. It is also used for erectile dysfunction because of its positive effect on circulation.
Another amino acid which has been mentioned is carnitine. Carnitine is essential for the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell. Mitochondria are sometimes described as "cellular power plants" because its main function is to convert organic materials into energy.
Therefore, the higher the content of carnitine in sperm, better motility. Carnitine also helps to increase sperm count and should be a primary to promote male fertility supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish oil has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, which helps to improve circulation. While there is no specific evidence of effect of fish oil on male fertility, a recent study Iranian showed that infertile men were deficient in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), fatty acid found in fish oil, compared to fertile couples.
The co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is more concentrated in the mitochondria of sperm, and is important for sperm motility. CoQ10 is also an antioxidant that protects the cell membranes of spermatozoa of the effects of free radicals. CoQ10 is known to increase sperm count and motility.
Ginseng is probably the most widely used botanical extract to enhance male fertility. It has been shown to promote the growth of the testes increases sperm count and increasing testosterone levels.
Of the two types of ginseng, Panax (Chinese or Korean) ginseng is recommended and Siberian ginseng is considered milder in its effect.
Other botanical also effective in improving fertility, in cases of reduction in semen volume. It also helps to improve the composition of seminal fluid, especially when the fluid is less alkaline than it should be.
This is an important consideration in male fertility, as it is estimated that only a small number of sperm never reach the egg due to natural "barriers" in the female reproductive tract. The more alkaline the seminal fluid, more sperm can survive for longer periods of time.
Maca has several interesting applications for the promotion of male sexual health. It has traditionally been used to increase energy, stamina and athletic performance. Research has shown that it can increase seminal volume, sperm count, the number of motile sperm, and motility of sperm. It is particularly encouraging that in studies conducted no changes in hormone levels (LH, FSH, prolactin, testosterone and estrogen) were found.
The use of acupuncture dates back about 4000 years, and is part of traditional Chinese medicine, a system of medicine that aims to balance energy and blood in the body in order to keep it functional and healthy. In simple terms, acupuncture aims to improve circulation and stimulate the body's natural healing abilities.
The results reduce inflammation in the body and increase the physical and emotional wellbeing. Acupuncture has also been helping to improve sperm parameters.
A study published in Andrology in 2000 showed that weekly sessions of acupuncture in men with azoospermia and severe oligozoospermia resulted in 67% of cases of azoospermia who were able to produce sperm while the rest saw an increase in sperm count .
Research has shown that smoking and alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on sperm. It is advisable to leave both alcohol and tobacco, especially if the woman is under IVF treatment. Do not use recreational drugs such as marijuana, and avoid saunas and hot tubs. Use boxers, not slips.
Modify your exercise routine
Do less exercise if you are doing more than an hour of intense activity on a daily basis, and do more exercise if you are sedentary or only do short sessions of exercise once or twice a week.
Because male infertility can have many origins and consequences, it is recommended that, before starting any change in your lifestyle consult with our specialized physician, Dr. Garant.
Dr. Garant is a pioneer in the management of natural treatments for infertility and will first perform a deep examination to assess therapy to your needs.
The Naturopathic View: male fertility