Sperm, the Other Half of the Equation
I feel like it is time to have this conversation. It might be a little uncomfortable for some, empowering for others, either way, we need to talk about sperm. I want to tell you something.
Male infertility is a contributing factor for half of infertility cases. HALF.
There are more than 3 million men in the united stated considered infertile and that number is growing at a remarkable and disturbing rate. What the hell is going on? And if your partner has a sperm issue, how can he fix it?
The Story of the Sperm
Sperm are made in the testicles, outside the body in the scrotum. Why? The little swimmers need a lower temperature to function optimally. Just 24 hours of hot balls and those sperm are dead. Sperm form over a period of about 48 days before they are fully functional and ready for the egg. Over a month of cooking, and they are ready to go, which is a far shorter time than the maturation of a female egg. I do want to stress that, although sperm do not take nearly as long to mature as an egg, sperm are sensitive and easily harmed. Those 48 days are important and lifestyle, diet, and the environment need to be optimal to make great sperm. In the end, sperm need to be produced in the millions (40-60), need to be great swimmers (they can’t be going in circles), and they need to look good (they can’t have two heads).
Sperm also need to carry healthy DNA. Damage to DNA can be caused by numerous events, including high fever, stress on the body, and an unhealthy lifestyle, contribute to fragmented DNA. The sperm might be getting to the egg, but embryo development is not happening due to DNA issues, OR pregnancy is occurring but miscarriages are happening. Labs usually look at DNA fragmentation, and can correlate that if a male has over 25% of defective sperm, it will lead to poor fertility potential.
Declining Sperm Counts…where are all the sperm going?
Did you know that the average male sperm count in 1940 was 113 million, and in 1990, it was down to 66 million. Whoa. In the last 50 years, men are producing less than half the amount of sperm they use to. These numbers are continuing to become more alarming, and at this rate, male infertility will become a modern epidemic.
Why is this happening? Is it the modern male lifestyle? Could it be diet, environmental toxins, higher environmental estrogen, or pharmaceuticals? I believe it is all of the above.
So what is the good news?
The good news is that sperm are easy to fix. For the most part, they produce rapidly and respond well to healthy lifestyle changes, supplementation, and of course, acupuncture. The difficult problem is getting men in my office, and to cooperate in this healthy sperm endeavor. If anything, supplements WILL help, so you can start with those. I recommend
the following for sperm:
· Vit C (1000 mg/day)
· Vit D (5000 IU)/day
· Vit D (800 IU)/day
· Selenium 400 mcg/day
· Zinc 50 mg/day
· Vit B12 1000 mg/day
· L-arginine 4000 mg/day
· Co-Q10- 600 mg/day
· Acetyl L-carnitine 3 g/day
· A really great customized Chinese herbal formula
Sperm also respond really well to life style changes. These include stress reduction techniques, getting good sleep, and daily exercise. There is also growing evidence that is shows the negative effects of cell phones and laptops on sperm. So make sure the cell phone is not in a front pocket next to the testicles, and avoid placing a laptop, on his lap. Smoking both cigarettes and marijuana have shown a decrease is sperm count, as well as regular consumption of alcohol. Junk food and diet play a massive role in the quality and quantity of sperm. For example, men to drink soda have 30% less sperm than men who do not drink it.
We have a lot of work to do if this trend continues and sperm become more difficult to produce.
It needs to be said.
I believe that it is essential for men to take an active role in the fertility process. Why do was ask so much of ourselves, yet ask very little of our partners. The recipe of baby involves both a healthy egg and a health sperm. Men need to take responsibility for their health and wellness, and start to understand the deep connection between his sperm health and his environment. Can we start to have meaningful conversations with our partners during the fertility process? I hope you can.
Have any more questions? Need to get your partner in for a treatment? Give me a call!
Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, Jane Lyttleton: Chap. 12, page 250-278
Feed Your Fertility, Emily Bartlett, Laura Frlich: Chap 8, page 184-200