Male infertility is a deeply worrying issue for couples trying to have children and for any intending to in the future. But the good news is that in many cases low sperm count is something which men can combat themselves, with lifestyle changes.
RedOrbit spoke to Dr. Paul Turek, one of America’s most prominent urologists. Here is his advice on the issue.
RedOrbit: What are the major and most common causes of low sperm count and infertility in men?
Paul Turek: A pile of wormy veins (sorry to anyone eating breakfast!) in the scrotum that heats up the testis and drops sperm counts and fertility – known as a varicocele – is the most common identifiable cause of male infertility. Genetic causes are up there including missing regions of the Y chromosome (that tend to be new to the individual) or switched up chromosomes (tend to be inherited) are also frequently found. Third, good old lifestyle issues such as smoking, hot tubs, certain medications, poor diet, and obesity also rank up there.
RO: What are the major causes related to lifestyle or things we can change? What can men do to improve their sperm count and fertility?
PT: I get asked this all the time: How can I increase my sperm count? Please realize that sperm production normally WANTS to run hard and fast. As fast as it can. A normal guy makes 1,000 sperm per heartbeat! Typically, issues that affect fertility slow the system down so that it doesn’t work as efficiently, or at as high an rpm, as it should and wants to do.
Examples of what you can do: Eat well, sleep well, and reduce your stress. Avoid all toxins (hot baths, recreational drugs, excessive alcohol). As examples of stress, even excessive exercise or rapid weight loss (more than 2lbs/week) are not good for fertility. My best advice is to treat your body like a temple and take all things in moderation.
RO: What are some common misconceptions and myths surrounding the issue?
PT: 1) “Male infertility is not a disease.” Certainly is! Infertility reflects on overall health, can indicate another disorder and can predict future disorders, like higher rates of testis and prostate cancer. Kinda important in this regard.
2) “Infertility only really affects women.” Nope. Male factor infertility is involved in 1/3 to 1/2 of infertility cases.
3) “The male infertility evaluation rarely finds anything useful to treat.” Again, WRONG! In at least half to 2/3 of male factor cases, a causative issue can be identified. And, in most cases something can be done about it, especially lifestyle stuff. When it is genetic, though, men are stuck with it and assisted reproduction becomes the go-to treatment.
Dr. Paul Turek runs The Turek Clinic in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, and works on TV shows such as The Doctors.
In a follow up article, we’ll look at other contributors to low sperm count, including the use of laptops, tight pants and underwear, and even vegetarianism.