Male Fertility

male fertilitySperm Fun Facts: normal sperm production is 100,000-200,000/ day, so with every heartbeat 1500-2400 sperm are made!

There are 70,000-150,000 sperm per ejaculate. Only 100,000 make it to the uterus, only 4000 make it to the egg. It only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, but it takes 70,000-150,000 to get to that one.

It takes TWO to make a baby: the male and the female. More than 40% of the time, male infertility is the reason a couple can’t get pregnant. Western medicine focuses almost exclusively on the quality of eggs. This is a mistake: the father provides 50% of the genetic building blocks of a healthy baby through sperm. Male sperm counts and health levels have decreased by 40-50% over the last 20 years. We have to address the man’s part in the fertility equation.

In addition, a “normal” sperm test is NOT the same as a male fertility test, and doesn’t indicate OPTIMAL fertility. The normal ranges are actually in the low normal range. Sperm analysis doesn’t test the functionality of the sperm, or the likelihood that oxidative stress is impairing sperm motility or fractionating the DNA. There is also a lot of variability in the accuracy of the tests. What this means is that it is important for the male partner, at a minimum, to improve his lifestyle and take his supplements even if things seem OK.

And when everything is “fine” on the man’s side, every percentage point that we improved sperm quality by is a percentage point that gives us more room to work with on the woman’s side.

The male body takes approximately 72-74 days to regenerate sperm, and it takes 90 days to completely replace old sperm with new, healthier sperm. This means that any meaningful effect on sperm due to will take 3 months to manifest. However, your general health as a whole can improve in a much shorter time period. Also, antioxidant therapy (through supplementation) can improve some parameters of sperm health in a few short weeks by reducing oxidative damage to the sperm. So there are short, medium and long-term sperm health issues that can be addressed to improve chances of conception.

Appropriate lifestyle changes and supplements can increase the motility, concentration, volume of sperm, and improve the morphology of sperm (decreasing the number of misshapen sperm).

It’s important for you to create a healthy environment for sperm to grow and develop in. Lifestyle factors such as adequate sleep, healthy eating, reduction in stress, and exercise all affect your sperm positively.

So what are some of the lifestyle issues that affect spermatogenesis (sperm creation)? The usual suspects: lack of sleep, stress, poor diet, weight issues (over or under). When stress levels increase, levels of the hormones prolactin and cortisol increase, which damages the creation of sperm. Stress provokes the release of cortisol, which suppresses the production of testosterone, which results in reduced numbers of and impaired sperm. If you are stressed out, physically or emotionally, your sperm will not be healthy.

Poor lifestyle choices impact the body as stress. Chronic lack of sleep (less than 6-7 hours) means the body doesn’t secrete enough growth hormone so sperm quality is negatively affected. Poor diet means that the nutrients needed to build healthy sperm aren’t available. Even 10 pounds of excess weight can result in testosterone suppression (fat cells secrete estrogen, which suppresses testosterone production in a male). In underweight men, there is too much testosterone and not enough estrogen. In this case, lack of estrogen results in decreased number of sperm. Furthermore, free radicals (which result from various factors) damage the DNA in sperm. So even if sperm morphology is fine, the DNA may not be.

Finally, heat is a HUGE factor in sperm quality. The testicles hang outside the body because sperm needs temperatures 1-2 degrees lower than core body temperature of a healthy male. Heat damages and kills sperm. 30 minutes of a laptop on the lap results in significant numbers of dead sperm; saunas, steam showers, are all enough to damage sperm. Fortunately, there are simple lifestyle shifts that a man can implement that will help improve sperm quality, quantity, and morphology.

Male factor issues can be helped with lifestyle changes and supplements. All men, even if they don’t have any “issues”, should make the changes to help improve the overall quality of the embryo. And, in the absence of an actual health issue or disease, one lovely effect of improving your lifestyle and taking supplements is that you will feel less stressed, have more energy, and feel better overall!

FYI, your junk is not the area of interest: the issue is in your hormone levels. That’s why supplements and lifestyle changes work!