Hello! In my last blog post of 2020 I’ve decided to bring you some info on improving male fertility factors! Fertility has been on my mind as I work with many patients on their journeys to conceive and become parents and also because I’m soon to become a mom to my third child. This year I’ve seen more male interest than I’ve ever seen on how to optimize fertility or support fertility issues. This is so exciting for me because YES, there is lots that can be done and YES sperm plays a critical role in optimal fertility. Lets look at a few sperm facts and discuss some treatments that can play a supportive role.
Sperm take about 3 months to develop (1) so they are essentially built from the material that is currently available to them and effected by the environment they are exposed to. So this suggests that providing good building blocks to the sperm and avoiding things that might harm them would make a difference. The research shows this in terms of improved conception with targeted supplementation and reduction of oxidative stress such as that brought out by stress or toxins (2,3).
So how does sperm impact overall conception? Sperm factors contribute to infertility 30% of the time. Some of this can be due to endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyper prolactinaemia or hypogonadortrophic. Other issues are more localized at the site of sperm development (the testes) such as: unknown 66%. teste maldescent 20%, trauma / torsion 7%, mumps, chemotherapy 1% , klinefelters 5%. Other causes can be obstructive causes: vasectomy, congetinal issues, Chlamydia. (4)
Did you know there’s been a steep decline in sperm quality over the past few decades (6)? The World Health Organization (WHO) has these parameters for what they reflect as fertile sperm: at least one ml of sperm per sample, more than 48 million sperm per ml, more than 63% moving purposefully, less than 88% abnormal forms. Prior to 1999 the WHO guidelines were less than 50% abnormal sperm! (5)
The thing is, when trying to conceive why not make your odds the best they can be? I believe science and society are starting to shine more light on how sperm quality impacts fertility and how it too can be enhanced as part of the pregnancy journey. I’m very excited that more men are taking a proactive role in this department and working on their preconception care.
There is so much available, whether it be assessing hormonal status, targeted supplementation with vitamins, minerals, herbs and / or acupuncture. Talk to your ND today!
Well, that’s it for me for 2020! Happy Holidays, may you be well and surrounded by love even if largely virtually. I’ll write to you again after a little maternity break.
- Dhawan V, Kumar M, Deka D, Malhotra N, Dadhwal V, Singh N, Dada R. Meditation & yoga: Impact on oxidative DNA damage & dysregulated sperm transcripts in male partners of couples with recurrent pregnancy loss. Indian J Med Res. 2018 Dec;148(Suppl):S134-S139. doi: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1988_17. PMID: 30964091; PMCID: PMC6469372.
- Adriana Cassina, Patricia Silveira, Lidia Cantu, Jose Maria Montes, Rafael Radi, Rossana Sapiro, Defective Human Sperm Cells Are Associated with Mitochondrial Dysfunction
- and Oxidant Production,Biology of Reproduction, Volume 93, Issue 5, 1 November 2015, 119, 1–10, https://doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.115.130989
- American stats from Jane Lytteton seminar Treatment of Male Infertility with Chinese Medicine
- Kumar, N., & Singh, A. K. (2015). Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. Journal of human reproductive sciences, 8(4), 191–196. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-1208.170370
Dr. Sarah Kent is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor specializing in your health. She blends traditional knowledge with current scientific understanding to generate wellness within her patients. She has received specialized training in naturopathic sports medicine, applying the principles and tools of naturopathic care in treating athletes. Dr. Kent is currently off on maternity leave, but you can read more about her here.