Most people are under the impression that only women have a biological fertility clock. Unfortunately, men have a biological clock as well. Men may not experience menopause but when they are over 35 years of age, sperm quantity and quality start declining. Before considering IVF for male infertility, here are the facts which you and your man should know about.
A reduction in the average sperm count has been observed over the past 50 or so years. According to a study by the Zita West Clinic, average sperm count has dwindled from 113 million sperm per mL to 70 million sperm per mL. In addition, the number of sperm carrying some form of abnormality is twelve times larger than it was 50 years ago. Sperm motility, the ability of the sperm to move towards an egg, was also observed to have decreased significantly. Sperm quantity is not always a good basis for healthy male fertility. Studies have shown that even men producing a good amount of sperm can have problems with male infertility. Sperm quality could be a major factor in increasing miscarriage rates and developmental problems in babies.
The problem of “free radicals” has been identified as having a major effect on male infertility. Free radicals are active roaming molecules in the body which speed up the ageing process. .These by-products of the body’s metabolism also play a role in tissue and sperm damage. Research from Zita West showed that sperm quality declines with age and the older you are the more likely it is that you will have free radical problems.
Lifestyle change can help limit free radical damage. How you treat your body has a huge impact on male infertility. This is good news because it means you can actually do something to keep your sperm healthy. You may have to make a few changes, though.
Adequate nutrition and antioxidants help neutralize the free radicals in your system and so improve your sperm count. Give up smoking, alcohol, prohibited drugs and processed foods as these cause high free radical counts. The sperm count in men who smoke is 17% lower than in men who don’t smoke. Pregnancy rates have also been found to be lower in couples where the man drinks 10 units of alcohol a week. Some forms of excessive exercise can also be problematic for male infertility. Men who daily ride a bike for more than 2 hours a day have been found to have a higher incidence of scrotal damage than men who only ride a bike occasionally.
Men who have or have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or have had prolonged exposure to environmental hazards are more likely to have testicular infection and should have this treated immediately.
Avoid using spermicidal lubricants and time your intercourse to increase your chances of having a baby. If you take any medication which might affect sperm production, discontinue taking it immediately. Seek medical attention for infections such as genito-urinary tract infections or any abnormal symptoms.
Specific herbs can significantly improve sperm quantity and quality but always talk to your naturopath before commencing any herbal treatment and don’t self-prescribe herbal medicine.
Some foods and vitamins also help combat male infertility. Vitamin C and Vitamin E have anti-oxidizing properties that protect your sperm’s DNA. Selenium supports male fertility. Zinc has been found in healthy testes and the prostate gland and studies have shown that infertile men who took zinc exhibited significant improvement in their sperm health and quantity.
Male infertility can be caused by nutritional imbalances, adverse drug reactions, chronic infections (Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea etc.) and others which are treatable with lifestyle and diet changes. Unless there is a recognized physical cause for it, you can use options other than IVF for male infertility.
Iva Keene is co-founder and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She has been a qualified, accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 13 years, holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Science and a Masters degree in Reproductive Medicine. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva's articles, videos, guides and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments and integrative reproductive health.