Understanding Male Infertility, Its causes & how to counteract it
Male infertility is a rising global problem with a steady decline in male semen quality among men living in Africa, Europe, North American, and Asia. Declining semen quality is a major contributor to infertility. Studies have suggested that different factors, such as exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, heavy metals, obesity, alcoholism, tobacco smoking, sedentary lifestyles, poor nutrient intake, oxidative stress, physiological factors & genetic factors can influence male fertility.
So what are possible reasons for infertility in men?
Erectile dysfunction: Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is known to affect about a quarter (26%) of men under the age of 40.
Low sperm count: An important aspect of semen quality is the number or concentration of sperm cells in a given amount of semen. With a lesser count, the chances of conceiving diminish significantly.
Sperm motility: An essential function of healthy sperm cells is their ability to swim. Sperm motility is measured as the percentage of moving sperm cells in a sample of semen.
Testosterone levels: Low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, may be responsible for infertility in some men.
Though male fertility depends upon a lot of factors including age & lifestyle, certain measures can be taken to improve the fertility health.
Get enough exercise and sleep
Several studies have suggested that weight loss and exercise among people with overweight or obesity can lead to an improved or increased sperm count. However, the science linking a healthy body mass index (BMI) to a healthy sperm count is still weak.
However, one 2017 study Trusted Source examined the benefits of performing a 16 week aerobic exercise program of at least three 50-minute sessions per week.
In the study, regular exercise increased sperm count and motility in 45 men with obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
A 2016 meta-analysis that reviewed the results of over 20 studies with a total of nearly 6,000 participants found that smoking consistently reduced sperm count.
The researchers found that people who smoked moderate or heavy amounts of tobacco had a lower sperm quality than people who smoked tobacco less heavily.
Avoid certain prescription medications
Some prescription medications can potentially decrease healthy sperm production but the effect can temporary. Once the male stops taking the medication, however, their sperm count should return to normal.
These medicines include:
exogenous or supplementary testosterone
It is essential to consult a fertility expert if a male patient is suggested any of the above medication.
Get enough vitamin D
Researchers are not entirely sure why, but blood levels of vitamin D and calcium appear to impact sperm health.
Research shows that a deficiency in calcium may also adversely impact sperm count.
One can easily get access to Vitamin D supplements are available to purchase in health food stores and online.
Eat more antioxidant-rich foods
Antioxidants are molecules that help deactivate compounds called free radicals, which damage cells.
Several vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants, and some studies have linked antioxidant consumption with increased sperm count.
Polyunsaturated fats are crucial for the healthy development of the sperm membrane. Such fats include omega-3 and omega-6. On the contrary, with the consumption of trans fatty acids, the sperm count decreases proportionately.
Limit exposure to environmental and occupational contaminants
As pollution and congestion increase, researchers often link environmental factors such as air quality and exposure to toxic chemicals to reduced sperm health and count.
Avoiding environmental toxins as often as possible also contributes to better overall health.
Limit the consumption of soy and estrogen-rich foods
Some foods, especially soy products, contain plant estrogen. This can reduce testosterone bonding and sperm production.
Get enough folate and zinc
Limited studies suggest that consuming folate and zinc in combination may improve the overall health of sperm, including concentration and count.
In case the couple is unable to conceive even after trying all the natural methods for improving fertility, it is recommended to get in touch with a fertility expert to decide on the further course of action.
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