Men and Infertility
When a couple is having trouble getting pregnant, many concerned husbands have the thought “Is it me?”; “What can I do to help?”
Some men will schedule a semen analysis test even before their wife has been tested. Kudos to these informed men, as about 30% of the time when a couple experiences infertility, issues with sperm quality are part of the problem.
About 10% of the time male factor is the principal cause of infertility.
The good news is that it is extremely easy to test for male factor infertility. It simply involves having a semen analysis test performed. This relatively simple screening procedure can provide a wealth of information about the health and function of the male reproductive system as well as the fertilization potential of sperm.
The semen analysis is performed by first collecting a semen sample. A sterile, labeled container will be provided by our lab for this purpose. For optimal accuracy of results, we recommend that the sample be delivered to our lab within 45 min of being produced and kept close to room temperature during transport. Alternatively, we have a collection room available, for your convenience, on site at Frisco Institute for Reproductive Medicine. Once received, the sample will be examined for volume, consistency, pH, concentration of sperm per ml, motility (movement), and morphology (shape).
Since there are many factors that may temporarily affect sperm production, a single semen analysis is sometimes not sufficient to provide the information needed to diagnose male infertility, unless it is perfectly normal. If an initial semen analysis is abnormal, there may be a benefit to repeating the analysis to get another assessment, with 2-4 week gap between the two tests. Based on the results of the semen analysis results, referral to a urologist may be recommended
How to improve sperm quality
There are lifestyle changes that men can make to improve sperm quality.
Get fit – Obesity has been associated with decreased sperm count. Weight loss, if obese, and working towards maintaining a normal body weight can be of benefit.
Limit exposure to heat – Sperm is sensitive to the impact of heat. We recommend limiting use of hot tubs, saunas and also activities such as bicycling for hours and wearing tight clothing.
Eliminate smoking and recreational drugs – Cigarette smoking and use of recreational drugs including marijuana can negatively impact sperm health. Heavy cigarette use can increase DNA fragmentation in the sperm and decrease its fertilization ability in addition to other negative impacts.
Take a multivitamin and Omega-3 supplement every day – There is some evidence that deficiencies in certain vitamins (B, C & E) and minerals (selenium, zinc) may be related to a decreased sperm quality. Omega-3 fatty acids can have protective effect on sperm DNA damage from free radicals in the blood stream
Never take testosterone –Testosterone is often prescribed to men by their primary care doctors if they have lower than normal testosterone levels and suffer from chronic fatigue, decreased libido etc. However, taking testosterone can suppress the brain from signaling the cells in the testicles to produce sperm. This can lead to significantly decreased or completely eliminate sperm production. Sperm can take a very long time to return to the ejaculate even after stopping the testosterone. So, for a man who is interested in fertility down the road, never take any form of testosterone supplementation before first talking to a fertility specialist and evaluating options such as sperm cryopreservation prior to initiating testosterone therapy if it is considered to be a necessary treatment.