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All About Male Fertility

November 5, 2018
Katie Visco

A hot topic in today’s society is female fertility, and while this is obviously very important, sometimes male fertility can be overlooked. Considering that one-third of infertility cases are due to male reproductive issues, it’s imperative to start including men in this conversation in order to move forward. This article is all about male fertility, from going over the basics such as FAQs and testosterone 101, to diving into the advances made in the technology and research in the realm of male fertility.

  • Fertility questions answered
  • Testosterone and fertility
  • Test Your Sperm
  • Air pollution and male fertility
  • Antioxidant supplement for IVF

Fertility questions answered

There are three questions that can come to mind when talking about male fertility. Let’s break them down!

  1. Do men have a time of peak fertility?

The female body is a complex _, and it’s empowering to be able to track your fertility cycle, with some women being able to track their peak fertility down to the hour. Are men the same way? Dr. Ralph Esposito, Naturopathic Physician, says no. Unlike women, men have daily cycles where testosterone, FSH, and LH levels change. Men are not more or less fertile at any specific time of day or month. However, due to these hormonal fluctuations, a man’s sex drive is often the highest in the morning.

  1. What external factors affect male fertility?

Just like in women, FSH and LH levels direct the development and production of some of the vital aspects of reproduction. When these hormones are balanced and working correctly, sperm production can take place. But external factors – most of which deal with a man’s health in general – like age, nutrition, smoking, drug use, and caffeine intake can hinder the development of healthy sperm. These factors sound extremely common and alarming, especially if you’re a frequent coffee drinker. Luckily, doctors say that just 90 days avoiding these habits can improve sperm health in men.

  1. How are male fertility issues diagnosed?

Even with healthy sperm, fertility issues may arise due to problems of production of delivery. There are four tests commonly used to diagnose such issues: semen analysis, blood tests, penis fluid cultures, and physical examinations. In these tests, doctors will evaluate semen production, sperm count, the size and shape of sperm, and sperm mobility to identify the root causes of infertility. Only doctors who specialize in infertility can help you identify these issues with male fertility. When the time comes, don’t be afraid to reach out and discuss with your doctors what tests you may be in need of.

Testosterone and fertility

‍Testosterone has a big impact on male fertility

Testosterone is also known as the male sex hormone, so it makes sense that it has a major impact on fertility. Exactly what role does testosterone play?

Although women also produce testosterone (though in much smaller amounts), testosterone is mostly found in men. Produced in the testes, it is the key male sex hormone and is responsible for regulating fertility, muscle mass, fat distribution and red blood cell production. Pretty important, right?

Having too much or too little of this hormone could affect your fertility and sperm. Although high testosterone can happen, only a blood test will confirm it. It’s not a good idea to take supplements unless your doctor recommended it. When you take testosterone supplements, your hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls male fertility) thinks its job is done and slows down production of GnRH, a chemical that signals your pituitary glands to produce LH and FSH, which in turn produces sperm cells and testosterone. This leads to decreased sperm production.

If you do think you have low testosterone, there are ways to naturally increase production.

  • Keep Your Genital Area Cool: Heat near the genital area can decrease your sperm count.  Avoid saunas and hot baths, and keep your laptop off your lap.
  • Lose Weight: Maintaining a healthy BMI weight can be crucial to your success in conceiving.  Obese men have lower testosterone levels, as their fat converts testosterone to estrogen.  Losing weight may boost your testosterone levels and increase your fertility.
  • Get Vitamin D: According to a 2015 study, men who have low levels of Vitamin D are more likely to have lower levels of testosterone.  While sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, prolonged exposure can increase your risk of cancer.  Other good sources of Vitamin D include mushrooms, fatty fish, and fortified foods, like grain products or skim milk.
  • Avoid Drugs and Alcohol: Recreational drugs, such as marijuana, have been linked to low testosterone in men.  Other drugs (including steroids and narcotics) can decrease sperm production.  Alcohol can impair the secretion of LH and FSH hormones.
  • Quit Smoking: This should go without saying, but smoking can have a negative effect on your health.  Specifically, it has been linked to lower reproductive hormone levels.
  • Exercise Frequently: Not only is exercise helpful in reducing stress and losing weight, but it can also boost your testosterone levels.

If you think you have a hormonal imbalance and that it’s affecting your fertility, your best bet would be to see a doctor see what they suggest.

Test your sperm

YO Home Sperm Test Kit gives you the ability to test your sperm count at home through an app.

Although male infertility can be caused by a multitude of things, quality and quantity of sperm is a variable. It’s probably the easiest infertility variable to test, and now with the at-home YO Home Sperm Test Kit, it’s even easier.

What’s the process?

  • The first things you’ll have to do is order a YO Mobile kit for as low as $30 and download the YO app.
  • Once you receive your FDA-cleared, smartphone-based home test, you’ll need to produce some semen to place into a Dixie Cup.
  • Mix the semen with liquefaction powder.
  • Using a turkey baster, which is included in the kit, transfer the sample into a microscopic slide and place it into a scanner that attaches to your phone.
  • The app will analyze the sperm and give you an accurate count of your moving sperm.  Results will include a live video of your sperm which can be shared with medical professionals to expedite treatment if needed.

During the waiting period, the app lets you play a trivia game where you get to test your sperm knowledge.

Okay, but does it work?

One man set out to test this kit for himself. He got an error message after the first taste, claiming that his sample was unreadable. However, the second test assured him that his sperm was normal. He concluded that, although the actual procedure made him a little uncomfortable, it was reassuring to know that there was nothing amiss with his sperm.

Air pollution and male fertility

‍Air pollution could be affecting male fertility

We’ve heard about all the dangers of not going green: a planet that becomes one giant landfill, more people with asthma due to poor air quality, and sea levels high enough to drown out all of New York City. For the past few decades, the lingering threat of global warming from the excess of greenhouse gases in the environment has caused a frenzy from activists in hope of saving the Earth. A new study suggests that air pollution isn’t just killing our planet, though; air pollution could be hurting male fertility. With the United States’ fertility already on the decline, this could be a vital piece of the puzzle in figuring out why. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know:

Study Finds Link Between Air Pollution and Male Fertility

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that air pollution could have adverse effects on sperm quality in men. The study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong says that the threat of pollutants in the air is not only harmful to our lungs and the future of our planets but introduces a threat to the ability for men to procreate. Worst of all – they suggest that contaminated air can be found in almost every region of the world with human inhabitation. They suggest that the effects of pollutants are relatively low from a clinical point of view, but regarding the health of nations, we could have a serious problem on our hands in the future.

What Does Sperm Quality Refer To?

With this study suggesting that air pollutants can be harmful to male fertility, what exactly does this mean? In short – healthy sperm must be properly shaped, be able to move properly, and there must be enough sperm to fertilize an egg successfully. Men who are generally healthy (have a healthy BMI, exercise frequently, and eat a balanced diet) tend to have higher quality sperm. Since air pollution has clear ties to health issues in humans, it should not be much of a surprise that male fertility could be at risk as well. With about 10% of couples in Western countries already facing infertility, we should be trying to preserve fertility as much as possible.

How Can I Do My Part in Reducing my Carbon Footprint?

Here’s three simple tips to decrease your carbon emissions yourself:

  1. Use Public Transportation – Cars are a huge source of air pollutants. If you live in an area where it’s possible to take a bus or train to work, utilizing public transit can be a great way to reduce your own carbon emissions.
  2. Watch Your Diet – When it comes to fruits and vegetables, shop for locally-sourced produce as much as possible. There are less production and transportation costs and emission involved. If you’re really committed to reducing your carbon footprint: cut out red meat.
  3. Be Energy-Smart – Although transitioning to geothermal or solar energy can be expensive (although sometimes, it doesn’t have to be!), it’s easy to be mindful of supporting companies and manufacturers who do their part in saving the planet.

Although the treats of air pollution on male fertility may be minimal, taking steps towards a healthier planet can make a healthier you. Give it a shot and do your part; your planet and future baby will thank you.

Antioxidant supplement for IVF

A study at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine -  ranked the #1 Fertility Center in the United States by Parents Magazine - has had positive outcomes with GameteHealth, an antioxidant supplement used to produce healthier sperm for IVF. For IVF patients, there could not be a simpler option to increase your chances of getting pregnant. This supplement, taken before IVF treatment, shows significantly positive effects on the health of sperm in couples struggling to get pregnant.

  • GameteHealth is a supplement to help maintain normal levels of DNA fragmentation in sperm
  • CCRM’s study with Gamete Health has 100% success in its current trial in creating healthier sperm for IVF
  • 75% of trial patients whose partner received embryo transfer resulted in clinical pregnancy

Creating health sperm for IVF: It’s all about DNA

The dual-strand composition of DNA is vital in carrying genetic information that an embryo needs for growth and development. Often, DNA fragmentation occurs within sperm, meaning that the DNA is damaged and can be a reason many couples struggle to conceive and maintain a pregnancy. Scientists suggest that finding a way to prevent DNA fragmentation can increase fertilization rates, create higher-quality embryos, and decrease the likelihood of a miscarriage in existing pregnancies.

GameteHealth: An Antioxidant Dream Supplement

The antioxidants in GamteHealth come from all-natural acai berries: a well-known super fruit. DNA fragmentation roots from oxidative stress, which occurs when the redox balance within the body is disrupted by aging, pollution, diet, and other lifestyle choices. GameteHealth preserves the high antioxidant activity to counteract these detrimental lifestyle effects, allowing sperm to play an even more active role in creating healthy embryos when a couple is undergoing IVF.

A Simple Supplement to Increase Your Chances of Conception

"The early results of our study have been very promising," says CCRM Founder William Schoolcraft, M.D. Men taking GameteHealth for 90 days prior to an IVF treatment have shown improvement in their sperm’s previously abnormally high levels of DNA fragmentation. Ten men have participated in the study, all of whom now have normal levels of DNA fragmentation after taking GameteHealth. Four of these men have partners who have received an embryo transfer, three of which resulted in successful clinical pregnancies.

From the basics to new developments in science and technology, it’s good to know all about male fertility.

Male fertility is just as important as female fertility when it comes to baby-making. It’s good to know the basics of male fertility basics and to be aware of the advances in science and research that are on the horizon.

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