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When it comes to infertility issues, there are many myths and misnomers out there to be avoided. Avoided because fertility myths typically discourage trying-to-conceive couples with discouraging (or simply frightening) misinformation. Among the most common myths? That it's mostly the woman who is to blame for infertility problems or delays in conceiving a baby.
A second common (male) fertility myth is that sperm health is just about numbers - or sperm count. And while a healthy sperm count is a vital dimension of male fertility, there are clearly many other physiological factors (called sperm parameters) that are equally important. Let's clear up these myths and see what one can do to improve male fertility health - as well as sperm counts. And if you need products to improve sperm count and motility, or products to help you determine if sperm count/motility are an issue for you, pay a visit to the male fertility section of our store.
Increasing Sperm Counts Just as with female fertility, male fertility is quite complex - and there are many variables impacting sperm health. Let's first look at sperm count and then we'll examine other key male fertility parameters - including sperm motility and morphology.
Sperm count is the number (or concentration) of sperm that should be present/measurable in a given sample. The World Health Organization provides guidelines for a healthy sperm count. The benchmark for a "normal" count is 20 million sperm per milliliter - given a total semen volume of 2 ml. That equates to a total number of sperm per/sample of 40 million. The SpermCheck Fertility Test is an inexpensive, at-home test that can be used to determine if your sperm count is in the normal range (over 20 million per milliliter).
If these large numbers are startling, one conclusion one may quickly draw is that it generally requires large numbers of sperm to ensure that a pregnancy is achieved. That's because only a relative few of these 20 to 40 million sperm are capable of making the long and difficult journey through the cervix to fallopian tube to the awaiting egg. And as there is typically only one egg released during ovulation into one fallopian tube, approximately 50% of any awaiting sperm will likely gather around the "wrong" fallopian tube entrance. Complicating things even more, under ideal circumstances, sperm can only live for a handful of days, so an egg must be "punctual" if conception is to take place.
If conceiving is a "numbers game", then sperm count is important. At the same time, a lower than average sperm count does not consign you to an infertility category. In fact, a low sperm count does not mean that you cannot conceive, it simply means that 1) it may take longer to conceive a baby 2) dietary, lifestyle, or health interventions may be required 3) ovulation prediction/timing intercourse in accordance with a prescribed frequency of intercourse may be advised or 4) more formal medical interventions may be suggested by your doctor. Also, a "low sperm count" should not be confused with more serious issues like azoospermia, or not having any measurable sperm count at all (whether due to physiological obstructions or spermatogenesis issues).
Timing Intercourse and Sperm Counts Most doctors recommend that trying-to-conceive couples have sex regularly, even when its not your "fertile time" of the month. However, in cases of documented sperm count issues, time is a variable. Why? Time is a factor - as is the frequency of sex - because it takes time for sperm to both mature and/or accumulate. Thus, sperm counts can be boosted by simply increasing the time interval between sexual encounters. If you are trying to conceive, it is therefore doubly important that you chart fertility and predict ovulation in order to time intercourse for both female fertility as well as maximizing sperm counts. In the case of lower than average sperm counts, your health care provider will be able to suggest a frequency/schedule for procreative intercourse to ensure healthy counts.
Beyond Numbers: Other Sperm Parameters While sperm count is clearly vital, numbers are not everything. Sperm must be able to swim in a sustained, forward manner. They must be normally shaped. And they must exhibit metabolic attributes that promote longevity, speed, or endurance.
Sperm motility is defined as the capacity for sperm to propel themselves in a forward direction for a sustained period of time. No matter what the counts, if sperm are not motile - or do not have the metabolic qualities to sustain normal motility - then they will not be able to make the long journey required to reach and fertilize an egg. The same may be said of morphology, or "normal" sperm shape.
The origin of problems with these three fundamental sperm parameters (count, motility, and shape) may be diverse - from hardwired genetic issues to nutritional deficiencies to stress, smoking, or previous infections. So now we have identified the parameters and the problems, let's examine possible solutions.
Ways to Increase Sperm Counts
So the good news? Improving sperm counts and promoting overall male fertility health is something all men can achieve through simple changes in diet and/or lifestyle. Let's take a look at some of things you can do...
• Needless to say, bad
health will lead to a compromised sperm count. If you are TTC, you should refrain
from illicit drug use, quit smoking, and moderate or quit drinking alcohol.
Dietary Supplements & Sperm Count
Supplements like FertilAid for Men contain proven fertility-enhancing ingredients that have been shown to support key sperm parameters like motility and count.
Clinical studies continue to demonstrate that antioxidants, the amino acid, l-carnitine, and minerals like zinc an selenium help promote sperm motility and concentration. A recent (2007) FertilAid for Men study further substantiates these claims.
L-Carnitine plays a vital role in spermatogenesis & sperm development - and in ensuring the maintenance of sperm quality and vitality. L-carnitine supports the metabolic processes of sperm and therefore helps sustain normal motility.
Antioxidants scour damaging free radicals from our systems. Free radicals cause oxidative stress to tissues and may impair vital cellular and metabolic processes, including spermatogenesis. There are many antioxidant forms, including vitamins like C and E, as well as natural agents like Grapeseed Extract. Numerous studies indicate that supplements rich in antioxidants can dramatically improve male reproductive health and boost sperm counts.
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