Contributed by Elise Schroeder, ND, Naturopathic Physician at Blossom Clinic.
If you are like most couples, you are spending a lot of time, energy, and potentially a lot of money on testing and treating the woman. With 40% of infertility cases having some male factor, you might be missing the mark. Male factor infertility is cheaper and easier to diagnose, and often can be improved by naturopathic treatments like diet improvements, herbal medicine and a few choice supplements.
Testing for male fertility does seem to be a barrier for some men. Many labs and fertility clinics will now allow men to bring their semen sample in to the clinic rather than produce is on site, provided the specimen be maintained at body temperature and be delivered in a timely manner. Check with your local lab for more information on specimen handling.
When sperm is tested, the lab looks at three main things: Sperm Count, Morphology and Motility.
Sperm count is the number of sperm observed in the sample. A Normal result is considered above 39 million per ejaculate. Note that the median levels reported by the World Health Organization are 255 million per ejaculate. This means that when sperm count is below 255 million, it is below average.
Morphology refers to the shape of the sperm. Sub par morphology indicates DNA problems. A normal shaped sperm has a smooth oval head with a long tail attached to its base. Morphology of the sample is considered normal if 4% or more of the sample has this shape. Some abnormalities that sperm might exhibit are a crooked double tail, or head malformations. The sperm tail propels it forward toward the egg for conception, if it is malformed, transit to the egg can be disrupted. The head of the sperm penetrates the egg, if it is malformed, penetration can be prevented.
Motility refers to how the sperm are “swimming”. Good swimmers will be moving in the right direction and fast, while bad swimmers might be moving slow or not moving at all. Good motility is considered more than 50%-60%.
Prevention is the Best Cure.
Some of the common causes for these sperm problems are DNA damage, genetic predisposition, and hormone production. In a typical and uncomplicated case, all of the sperm issues- motility, morphology and count, can be improved.
Reduce Exposure to Harmful Chemicals
Many studies have documented the effects that exposure to pesticides, has on sperm. These chemicals can cause a decrease in sperm count, change in morphology and can affect testosterone production. It is important to eat organic whenever possible. Check out the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to find out which foods are most important to get organic.
This chemical is found in plastics and is recognized by the body like an estrogen. Reduced exposure can improve sperm quality and count. Avoid eating or drinking out of plastic container, limit your exposure to receipts (yes receipts have bisphenol A) and avoid using other plastic items as well such as plastic forks and spoons or plastic bags.
Get the laptops off the lap! Take the cell phone out of the pocket! Laptops and smart phone emit large amounts of radiation and should not be placed directly on top of, or nearby the sperm production house, the testes.
The chemicals in cigarettes are cellular oxidants can cause DNA damage. For the best quality sperm, don’t smoke!
What Supplements and Herbs Help Male Infertility?
Antioxidant which are found in colorful fruits and vegetables can counteract the harmful effects of smoking, pesticides, and other DNA damaging chemicals.
An amino acid found to improve sperm quality and sperm count
CO Q 10-
A potent antioxidant that can help improve sperm quality. I use this commonly, especially with older guys.
A South American herb that has been shown to improve libido, sperm quality and sperm count. A great fertility herb!
Remember no two people are alike, for an individualized approach to improving male fertility and specifically sperm quality and count, make an appointment with me, Dr Elise at Blossom Clinic. 503 287 0886
To learn more about Male Infertility and Acupuncture, click here.