Male factor infertility: how to improve sperm qualityJul 26, 2021
Why is the solution to Male Factor Infertility usually just IVF?
I remember when we first went and saw a fertility specialist after my husband and I had been trying to conceive for 6 months. We were both tested, and the result was a “low sperm motility” diagnosis for my husband.
I don’t remember our doctor discussing reasons for it, or how we could improve the quality of his sperm naturally. The solution that was handed to us was IVF.
We didn’t question it, because we had a problem, and IVF was a solution. And to be honest with you, I had zero knowledge of the male anatomy and had no desire to investigate it further. I just wanted to get pregnant and have a baby as quickly as possible.
What I wish I had known back then however is that men can actually improve the quality of their sperm in around 74 days.
This simple piece of information may have saved us 7 years of heartbreak and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or maybe not. But it would have been nice to know.
So, I’m going to share with you some information about sperm. This is based on my Interview with Lucy Lines from Two Lines Fertility, as part of my Infertility Unfiltered series over on YouTube. If you’d like to watch the full interview just click HERE, but here are the highlights.
What makes a good semen sample?
Volume of the sample – how much is there?
How many sperm are in the sample - generally sperm only make up 5% of an ejaculate.
What percentage of those sperm are swimming.
What percentage of those sperm that are swimming are moving forward and not around in circles (there are so many jokes I could make here, but I’ll be respectful).
What shape are they i.e. their morphology? In a normal ejaculate roughly 90-95% of sperm will be abnormally shaped.
So, does volume matter? I used to think that it only took one viable sperm to make a baby. But did you know it takes around 100,000 sperm per egg?
If you think of sperm like cyclists in the Tour de France – they need to sit in each other’s slipstream in order to travel the distance, because there’s a long way to get from the cervix through the uterus to the top of the fallopian tubes.
Of course, if they’re not swimming, or if they’re swimming backward or around in circles, they’re not going to make it.
And why is shape so important? The egg is covered in different cell types and the sperm has to have the right shape or have the right chemical compound on its head in order to penetrate the cells to get into the egg. There are a whole series of things that need to happen in order for the sperm to get through. Of course, only one sperm will actually make it into that prized egg, but it takes a village for that one little swimmer to get there.
The analysis of semen samples is pretty complicated, so it’s recommended that you get tested by an andrologist, not a pathologist, in order to receive a proper and detailed analysis. This study may go a long way to explaining previously unexplained infertility.
Can men improve the quality of their sperm?
Yes!! And it’s not that hard.
There are certain things that are known to reduce the quality of sperm.
The number one thing is heat – if you’re running a fever or if you constantly wear tight jocks or lycra, this will lower the quality of your sperm. Likewise, hot baths, or men who sit a lot – driving a taxi with heated seats or truck drivers.
Diet and nutrition – reduce alcohol intake, eating a balanced diet using whole foods instead of processed foods, introducing a few extras like oysters, crab meat, red meat, poultry and brazil nuts
Avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals i.e. pesticides etc by eating organic (or washing your fruit and vegetables if you can’t afford to switch to organic), drinking filtered water, avoiding plastic food storage containers (use glass, porcelain, or stainless-steel containers instead), choosing products labelled Phthalate-Free, BPA-Free”, and "Paraben-Free", and avoiding fragrances.
And the good news is that it only takes 74 days to change the quality of sperm. Think of it as a production line – 74 days from making the sperm to getting to the warehouse i.e his balls! :)
So, if you make some changes today, in around 74 days, you’ll get a different sample.
And given sperm is one half of the equation in making a healthy embryo, it’s really important regardless of whether you’re trying to get pregnant naturally or going down the assisted fertility route.
Remember - healthy sperm + healthy eggs + healthy uterus = increased chances of a healthy pregnancy.
We can ALL be doing our part, and that includes our partner.
Would you like to know more about how you can work with me, so you can get back control of your life and start moving forward? My 1:1 coaching program is packed with information, tools and support. Find out how you can get on the wait list now.
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