male role in infertility and miscarriage
sperm & sperm count
Men do matter! So much on the discussion about fertility is focused on women that it could easily be assumed that men are not important. In fact men's fertility was largely ignored until about 1980. We now know that male infertility accounts for about 40 - 50% of all infertility. And male problems can also cause miscarriage and the births of children with disabilities or abnormalities.
Infertile men also have a greatly increased risk of developing testicular cancer. So whether or not a man intends having children, his fertility is a good indicator of his general health and a good diet that is rich in fresh, colorful vegetables is just the start. Male fertility is greatly influenced by environmental factors, especially heat, chemicals, radiation and nutrition. Most changes in behaviour will take at least three months to take effect. My book "Build sperm with attitude", which is also available as an e-book, gives excellent advice on protecting and improving male fertility.
Semen analysis: problems with sperm count
A semen analysis initially examines sperm count or the concentration of sperm in the sample. Some men have no sperm and this condition is called azoospermia. This can be caused by mumps during puberty and any man who had mumps in puberty will remember the pain that he experienced with his swollen testes. Most other azoospermia is caused by genetic factors, either chromosomal or a single gene. Having abnormal sex chromosomes - 47,XXY, 47,XYY or 46,XX (male) - are the most common causes of this form of infertility, which cannot be corrected. Sperm donation or adoption are the only solutions for this problem.
Some men have a very low sperm count, usually called oligospermia. The cut off point for low numbers is about 9 X 106 or lower. Hormones play a large part in determining sperm count as does the intake of zinc. Though many cases of low sperm count are determined during the prenatal environment, there is often the possibility of improving count by removing a major negative environmental factor.
My lifestyle and environment questionnaire can be accessed on-line. The program generates advice that addresses the problems detected - there are usually several issues that need to be addressed but in the case of environmentally-influenced sperm count, there is most likely to be one major factor. Couples often find it helpful to receive some counselling after answering the questionnaire because it is impossible to anticipate all the individual issues that might apply. NZ couples can access email or telephone counselling. Practitioners who would like to use my questionnaire in their own clinics, should contact me by email.
Semen analysis: problems with sperm quality
The quality of sperm indicates its normality. In many modern studies the percentage normality is quite low. Twenty per cent seems to be average in Singapore but only 8% in Switzerland. Denmark and Japan have the lowest rates of normality and this factor is strongly influenced by environment. Sperm that carry DNA or chromosome damage have poor morphology or quality. This problem can easily lead to birth defects in the baby or miscarriage. It is critical that this is addressed before conception. Quality can be improved by correcting the underlying lifestyle-related causes. Answering the online questionnaire or reading the book "Build sperm with attitude" is a good start.
Semen analysis: problems with sperm motility
The motility or swimming ability of the sperm is a reflection of its cellular energy. Normal men have an average of about 65% motility, with about half the sperm progressing forwards. Motility is often affected at the same time as quality because environmental or pharmaceutical chemicals or radiation can damage the DNA in the nuclear DNA and in the mitochondria. Mitochondria, the energy organelles have their own DNA but because of its single-stranded form, it is much more vulnerable than nuclear DNA. Motility can be enhanced by appropriate nutritional supplementation.
Adelaide, South Australia, Phone international: +618 8244 7551 - Australian central time or email help (at) ez-fertility.co.nz - please replace (a) with @ and delete spaces.
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Ez-fertility Evaluation: A comprehensive Evaluation and Personal Report for couples who are planning pregnancy and wish to avoid problems
Site updated January 2009