Tag Archives: Low Sperm Counts

Perfumed ‘risk’ to future fertility

A principal investigator for the Human Reproductive Sciences Unit of theUK’s Medical Research Council (MRC) has revealed that using certain cosmetics during the early stages of pregnancy could affect fertility in males in later life. Professor Richard Sharpe undertook research on rats, which showed that after exposure to certain chemicals commonly found in cosmetics such as perfume and household fabrics, the actions of male sex hormones were blocked and the animals suffered fertility problems.

Professor Sharpe and his Edinburgh-based team believe that there is a crucial window between eight and 12 weeks of pregnancy when the male reproductive system is established and male sex hormones are activated. It is at this time that if exposed to chemicals in cosmetics, the male fetus ‘may not realise its full reproductive potential, including the size of the penis and testes, undescended testes or sperm count’, he said. Professor Sharpe told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper that the ‘male programming’ window occurs far earlier in fetal development than previously thought, and it is at this time that male sex hormones such as testosterone are most active.

 Speaking to BBC Scotland’s news website, he said: ‘If you are planning to become pregnant you should change your lifestyle… We would recommend you avoid exposure to chemicals that are present in cosmetics, anything that you put on your body that might then get through your body into your developing baby’. He added: ‘It is not because we have evidence that these chemicals categorically cause harm to babies, it is only based on experimental studies on animals that suggest it is a possibility’.

 Disorders of the male reproductive function can affect up to one in six young males with low sperm counts being the most common dysfunction. Professor Sharpe said that the chemicals he is concerned about may also increase the risk of suffering testicular cancer in later life.


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Male Infertility and Obesity

Recent studies have found a link between male fertility problems and obesity. In fact, being overweight or obese is one of the central causes of male infertility and more specifically, of sperm health problems. But how exactly does a man’s weight affect his fertility and what types of male fertility problems does being obese cause?

A study found that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) had a significantly higher risk of being infertile compared with men considered to be normal weight. In fact, the study found that an increase of just 20 lbs. could increase the chance of male infertility by approximately 10%.

BMI is a tool that measures weight proportionate to height and helps to calculate an individual’s body fat. Individuals with a lot of muscle sometimes have higher BMIs due to the fact that muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue.

 A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered to be normal for adults while a BMI of more than 25 is considered to be overweight. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of more than 30 while morbid obesity is characterized by a BMI of 40 or higher.

 A separate study found that a link between obesity and sperm health. The study compared male BMI to DNA fragmentation in sperm. As BMI, so too did the fragmentation of sperm DNA in the participants. Deteriorated sperm quality increased significantly as BMI passed 25 and was acute in participants whose BMI was over 30. Fragmented sperm DNA is linked to reduced fertility as well as an increased risk of miscarriage.

 In addition, obesity can have a number of other effects on male fertility:

    * low sperm count and concentration

    * hormonal imbalance

    * increased scrotal temperature

    * decreased libido

 As such, it is important to maintain good overall health in order to reduce the risk of male fertility problems and in order to maintain good reproductive health. Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly are important steps in reducing weight can help to achieve a healthy weight as well as improve sperm health. Talk to your doctor about starting a healthy exercise regimen and for advice on healthy eating in order to make important lifestyle changes that can help to increase your fertility.


 Sperm Health:

 Sperm health is vital to increasing a couple’s chances of getting pregnant. While certain genetic conditions might affect a man’s sperm health, there are a variety of factors, ranging from environmental to lifestyle, that also influence male fertility. As such, men can follow simple sperm health tips in order to increase fertility so as to improve their partner’s chances of getting pregnant.

Sperm Health Tips that Can Help Improve Male Fertility

The following tips can help to alleviate male fertility problems so as to improve a couple’s chances of getting pregnant:

   * don’t smoke. Smoking is linked to sperm health problems. While smoking has not been linked to a lowered sperm count, it does cause damage to sperm DNA, which results in an increased risk of birth defects in a man’s children. Because it takes three months for sperm to fully form, it is imperative to quit smoking at least three months prior to trying to get pregnant in order to reduce the risk of birth abnormalities

    * . don’t do drugs. Drug use also negatively influences sperm health. For example, marijuana increases the number of abnormal sperm produced, as well as lowers overall sperm count.

    * limit your alcohol intake. Reducing your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day is also important to male fertility. In fact, excessive drinking can lead to impotence.

    * try herbal solutions. Herbal remedies, such as green tea and gingko, are excellent male infertility solutions. Gingko helps to improve sperm healthy by promoting blood circulation to the capillaries while green tea helps to improve overall health, including reproductive health.

    * maintain a healthy weight. Because being either overweight or underweight can influence sperm health, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial in order to increase male fertility. A BMI of less than 20 or of more than 25 can reduce a man’s sperm count by 22%. Your BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. Following a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and that is high in folic acid, zinc, vitamins A, C and E is essential to staying healthy. Exercise can also help to maintain good weight.

    * get sun exposure. A healthy amount of sun exposure is linked to increased levels of testosterone, which in turn is connected to healthy sperm production. In addition, sun exposure is linked to lower levels of melatonin, which are known to negatively impact male fertility.

    * don’t overdo it. Studies have shown that ejaculating more than twice a day can have a negative effect on male fertility. This is because it takes some time for sperm levels to rise again following ejaculation. Nonetheless, it is important to have intercourse with your partner on a regular basis because sperm that is not ejaculated becomes old and less fertile, thereby reducing the chances of getting pregnant.

    * avoid heat. Overheating of the testicles can reduce sperm health. It is important for men to avoid wearing tightly fitting pants and undergarments, as well as to avoid hot baths and hot tubs. Also, placing a laptop on a table or desk as opposed to directly on the body also reduces the risk of sperm health damage.

    * reduce stress. Stress is a major contributing factor to sperm health problems. In fact, 15% of men experience decreased libido because of stress, while 5% of men experience impotence because of it. Practicing relaxation methods such as Pilates can help to minimize stress, as does participating in regular exercise.


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Viagra could harm sperm and reduce fertility

Two new studies have identified factors that could be causing a decline in male fertility. Research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility on the anti-impotence drug Viagra concluded that men taking the drug could be damaging their sperm and lowering their ability to conceive. Another study, published in the environmental journal the Ends Report, suggests that pollution from chemicals such as dioxin can lower a man’s sperm count.
The first study, led by Dr David Glenn at Queen’s University Belfast, , treated sperm in vitro with Viagra, and found treated sperm to be more active than untreated sperm, but also that the ‘acrosome’, which produces enzymes that help the sperm penetrate the egg, was damaged by the drug. Tests in mice showed that sperm treated with Viagra produced 40 per cent less embryos than untreated. Dr Glenn is concerned that the drug is being prescribed to couples seeking help for fertility problems, and says that ‘giving male partners something that could make the problem worse is scarcely the right approach’. He has also raised issues with younger males using the drug recreationally, who may be harming their chances of starting
a family in the future. The second study identified another factor thought to influence male fertility rates: pollution from chemicals such as dioxin, released through industrial processes and found in the atmosphere. A chemical explosion in Italy in 1976 exposed people to a cloud of highly toxic dioxin. A study 22 years later of male volunteers who were exposed found that men who were aged under nine at the time of the explosion had 43 per cent lower sperm counts than a control group. Men who were aged between ten and 17 when exposed, however, had sperm counts 62 per cent higher, and men who were over 17 were unaffected. The findings suggest that dioxin is a potential factor responsible for falling sperm counts, and also puts a question mark over other industrial chemicals.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are also thought to be affecting fertility rates. Three such chemicals have been investigated by scientists at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark. When the chemicals were administered separately, they were harmless. Concurrent exposure, however, resulted in malformed sexual organs in the fetuses, showing potential cocktail effects of chemicals should be taken into account when investigating their effects on fertility rates. In Denmark, just under five per cent of boys are born with a certain malformation of their sexual organs. Meanwhile, new hope was given to infertile couples in Australia, where Menevit, the ‘first ever drug to for male infertility’, has been developed. It contains antioxidants and works by acting on free radicals that fragment sperm, the main cause of infertility. In a preliminary study of 60 infertile men, the rate of pregnancy was increased significantly, but larger clinical trials are required before the drug can be merited.

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Intrauterine Insemination is the First Line Treatment For Infertility


Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure in which sperm are placed directly into the uterine cavity through a catheter near the time of ovulation. This procedure is most commonly performed when there are problems with the sperm, such as low count or low motility, or an incompatibility between the sperm and the cervical mucus. It can also be performed to overcome problems associated with a man’s inability to ejaculate inside the woman’s vagina due to impotence, premature ejaculation or other medical conditions.It is the most common procedure-in fact, the first line therapy for unexplained infertility. IUI increases the chances of pregnancy because the sperm are placed directly in the uterus, bypassing the cervix and improving the delivery of the sperm to the egg.

IUIs can be performed either with the partner’s sperm or with donor sperm. It is recommended that the patient abstain from sexual intercourse for two to three days before the procedure. In some cases, it may be necessary for the female to take medication to induce ovulation if her cycles are not regular. The male will provide a semen sample one to two hours before the procedure is to be performed. The semen will be washed, a procedure in which the sperm is separated from the seminal fluid and the quality of the sperm is analyzed. Following the wash, it is time for the insemination procedure, which only takes a few minutes and does not cause much, if any, discomfort for the female. The doctor will insert a small catheter into the uterine cavity through the cervix and inject sperm directly into the uterus. The patient is able to resume normal activity immediately following the IUI procedure. If pregnancy does not result from the initial IUI, the procedure may be repeated during the following cycles.
We expect a 15% chance of success with IUI cycles combined with clomiphene citrate or letrozole. The success rates go up by nearly 10% with use of gonadotrophins (Fertility Injections). At Rotunda, from 1992, we must have performed over 5000 IUI cycles for in-house patients & over 12,000 IUI cycles for referred cases, who are monitored by their respective gynecologist & walk in only for the IUIs.

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New Method to Diagnose Blockage that Causes Male Infertility

Almost as common as diabetes, male infertility affects 15% of reproductive age men in India. Many cases of infertility are caused by blockages within the male sex organs that result in low sperm counts or no sperm counts. These blockages are often reversible and therefore important to diagnose as couples may be able to conceive naturally afterward. To date, one such type of blockage, termed ejaculatory duct obstruction, has been difficult to diagnose as a cause of infertility. Last month, Dr. Paul Turek, a Professor Emeritus in Urology at UCSF, published a paper in The Journal of Urology that dramatically simplifies this diagnosis. “All prior tests for this diagnosis involve simply looking at the system and trying to guess how it works, but this new test actually ‘pokes’ at the system and watches how it responds,” says Dr. Turek, a nationally recognized microsurgeon and male infertility specialist.

“We simply applied the same principles that have been used to assess urination issues in urology for the past 30 years, termed urodynamics, to the male sex organs, and call it ‘vasodynamics.'”

For the study, 2 groups of men were compared: normal fertile men and infertile men suspected of having ejaculatory duct obstruction. In addition to taking ultrasound pictures of the reproductive tract system in both groups, which is the current standard diagnostic test, he did something else. By injecting harmless, colored dye into the system through a fine needle and measuring the pressure and flow characteristics of the dye as it progressed through the ejaculatory ducts, he found large differences between the fertile and infertile groups of men.

In fertile men, it took 33 cm of water pressure to cause flow in the ejaculatory ducts, whereas in the infertile men with suspected obstruction, it took 4 times that pressure or 116 cm water pressure. “With this hydraulic technique, we can actually measure the degree of blockage in the male sex organs, which has never been done before,” says Dr. Turek of the new technique. Not only that, after surgery was performed to relieve the obstruction in the blocked men, the injection procedure was repeated and the water pressures fell into the range of the normal fertile men. This response also corresponded well with improvements in semen quality after the treatment.

“For several decades, the diagnosis of ejaculatory duct obstruction has involved a lot of guesswork. Vasodynamics now removes the guessing and replaces it with real information that can be used to reliably improve male fertility potential,” says Dr. Turek.

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