Fertility: The Men’s Factor
Looking at Male Fertility from Sperm Test to Supplements
Traditional wisdom tells us that infertility issues are, in most cases, associated with the woman partner. Of course, by now we now that such assumptions are based more on patriarchal presupposition rather than actual scientific evidence. Though myths and misconceptions about fertility persist, the fact is that about 50% of all infertility cases may be attributable to men and general sperm health. But as with women’s fertility issues, many male fertility problems can be treated with dietary or health changes, with vitamin supplementation, or with medical procedures.
If you suspect that fertility obstacles may be hindering your ability to achieve a pregnancy, it’s a good idea to talk to your health care provider about getting a fertility checkup – and this would include male sperm analysis as well. Typically, if a couple has been actively trying to conceive for over a year without success (assuming regular lovemaking and/or use of fertility prediction methods), it is recommended to contact your doctor regarding testing. If a couple is in their mid 30s or older, they may considering visiting their doctor a bit earlier in order to be proactive in ruling out, or determining, potential fertility hurdles.
When it comes to male fertility, a complete sperm analysis can yield a wide range of data on a number of male fertility “parameters”, or aspects of sperm health. Of course, one cultural dimension of getting a sperm test is that men may be reluctant to test due to embarrassment or because “traditional” views on fertility still linger, views that falsely point to the woman (e.g. ovulation, menstrual cycle, hormonal, or physiological issues) as “root cause” of problems. Since a sperm analysis is a relatively simple procedure, getting tested by a urologist may be a way to rule out or confirm a problem before the female partner goes through more complex evaluations relating to ovulation/cycle variables. Treatments for male fertility issues are wide ranging, though typically your urologist will start with the most conservative (e.g. non-invasive) strategies before considering surgical options. A complete sperm analysis will look at several parameters of sperm health, including sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm cells), and may yield the following diagnoses:
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• Azoospermia is defined as the complete absence of sperm in a semen sample, due to failure in sperm production or physical obstruction. The latter, obstructive azoospermia, may be treated in some cases with surgical procedures. If a sperm analysis indicates azoospermia, your doctor will likely pursue follow up tests to determine the causal mechanism.
• Oligospermia is a diagnosis associated with sperm count when too few sperm are present in a sample. The accepted standard for defining normal or healthy sperm count is as least 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen. A sperm count below this 20 million threshold is considered a low sperm count. Depending on how low the sperm count is, oligospermia can in some cases be treated by simply scheduling lovemaking (to ensure sufficient time intervals for sperm counts to build up) or through dietary/health changes and supplementation. FertilAid, Fertility Blend and CountBoost for Men are all-natural dietary supplements designed to help promote male fertility wellness and increase sperm count.
• Asthenospermia describes sperm that do not display good motility. Sperm motility is the ability of sperm to move in a normal, progressive fashion. Normal sperm motility is defined as at least 60% of sperm showing strong, forward swimming motion. This swimming motion required by sperm to make it to, and fertilize, the ovum. Just like with sperm count, several lifestyle factors impact sperm motility. Decreasing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and supplementing your diet with antioxidant nutrients (like those found in MotilityBoost for Men) can improve sperm motility.
• Abnormal Morphology relates to the size and shape sperm. If sperm have abnormal morphology, they may have difficulty penetrating the egg for fertilization.
Before scheduling an appointment with a urologist for a complete sperm analysis, some men find it more discreet and convenient to use an at-home sperm test kit to determine their sperm count. The SpermCheck Fertility Test is a fast, accurate, and affordable at-home sperm count test. It allows you to determine in a few minutes whether or not your sperm count meets the “normal” definition of 20 million sperm per mL of semen, or if your sperm count is below the normal threshold. Using SpermCheck Fertility as a front-line evaluation of sperm health can be useful as you begin your trying to conceive efforts. If the test reveals that your sperm count is low, a follow up visit with your doctor is recommended to discuss causes and/or possible treatments. It is important to remember that this at-home test only measures sperm count, and cannot determine if you have normal sperm motility and/or sperm morphology. A complete sperm analysis is necessary to evaluate those two sperm health parameters.