Male infertility is often overlooked as a cause of why a couple is having trouble conceiving. This is strange when you consider that sperm defects are thought to account for 50% of all infertility. Sometimes we try and complicate things more than we need, so we do invasive testing on women to figure out what’s going wrong. But one of the first steps in figuring out the cause of infertility should be to do a simple semen analysis, commonly known as a sperm test.
Your GP can write you a referral for a semen analysis at a fertility clinic of your choice. If you don’t have a preference your doctor can choose one close to your home. In my opinion, the reference ranges for “normal” sperm are actually quite low, so I always aim to help my patients achieve above average results. This is especially important if there is also female factor infertility as well. Adequate sperm is not good enough at Sydney Natural Fertility, we aim for exceptional sperm!
The scary stats.
I’m about to hit you with some scary statistics now. A meta-analysis study in 2017 confirmed what those of us in the fertility world have suspected for a long time. Sperm counts are drastically reducing. The study confirmed that there has been a decline in total sperm count of 1.6% per year for the past 38 years. That’s a total decline of 59.3% in one generation! Is your mind blown yet?
Now you might be thinking, ‘but hang on, this study might have been done on men in another country and has nothing to do with me’. Sorry, but it has everything to do with every man. The study analysed results across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The study authors are looking into causes behind these drastic results, but let’s go through what we already know has been impacting sperm quality.
What negatively impacts sperm?
Firstly, chemical exposure. Each year we are exposed to more and more variations in chemicals that initially had unknown effects on our bodies. Now we know that some of these chemicals are directly linked to infertility, such as BPA (bisphenol A), parabens, and phthalates. The problem is, they’re still everywhere! Some substances, like BPA, are being replaced with other chemicals (eg bisphenol S), but these chemicals could be just as bad, if not worse!
What’s even more scary about these chemicals is that the effect they’re having on us can be passed from one generation to the next. This means that if your poor sperm count is related to chemicals, then your male offspring will inherit the gene mutations those chemicals have caused. Scary stuff.
There are many other causes of poor sperm quality that aren’t as new to the human race as chemical exposure. Poor diet, smoking, traumatic injuries, and genetic factors are also possible causes of male infertility.
So, what can you do to improve your sperm quality and reduce your risk of male infertility?
- Reduce your exposure to chemicals
- Take sperm friendly supplements such as Zinc and CoQ10
- Quit smoking
- Eat a healthy diet full of whole foods. Look into the Mediterranean diet if you need inspiration
- Book an appointment with a natural fertility practitioner
Ok, so that last one is a plug for Sydney Natural Fertility, but it’s true! Having someone who is educated on how to improve sperm quality as part of your fertility team is super important. As amazing as reproductive technologies like IVF are, they should be chosen in conjunction with improving your health as well.
Stay tuned for upcoming articles on male infertility, like ‘How to understand your semen analysis’. Join the newsletter below and we’ll let you know when they’re available.