An article published in the Straits Times on 2nd of May 2019 titled “Rise in male infertility an impending crisis, warns leading scientist” reported on the decline in male fertility.
In the article, they reported that 1 in 20 young men now have sperm counts that are low enough to make it difficult to have children. At the same time, scientists have not been able to conclude what the specific reasons for this disturbing trend are. Some of the contributing factors may be a mix of environmental and lifestyle factors. This, in addition to a couple having children later and having smaller families, have led to down trending birth rates.
What about the Male Counterpart
Females have been the focus for infertility issues even before modern medicine was born. Traditionally, no one blamed the male and it was always the females’ fault. However, it is known that in about half of couples having infertility issues, malefactors are at play, and nearly all of those cases are related to sperm issues.
Infertility is defined by the World Health Organisation as a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve pregnancy after a year or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. In such cases, it is recommended that both parties, the male and the female come for fertility testing. Today we will focus mainly on the male side of infertility, and what we can do about it.
In order for a male to be considered fertile, there are multiple factors that have to be present.
The hormones levels have to be correct, as this affects the number of sex hormones in the body and the production of sperm. The tubes that carry semen must be healthy and patent and the semen itself has to be of good quality.
When we say good quality semen, what we mean is that the number of sperm should be adequate, the sperm itself has to look normal, and it must be able to “swim” by moving its tail.
The DNA inside the sperm has to be normal as well. The male must also be able to have a sustained erection to proceed with copulation.
We can look for abnormalities related to fertility through blood tests, radiological scans and semen analysis. If you are infertile, it is important to find out if there are any identifiable cause, and correct them if possible.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea & Infertility
So as a male, knowing these facts above, how should you proceed from here?
The first step is to mitigate the factors which may cause infertility. Go for testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and get treated if you are positive for anything.
Infections like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea have been known to contribute to infertility and scarring of the reproductive tract. Read: Rapid Chlamydia & Gonorrhea PCR Testing
Boost your natural levels of sex hormones
You can also boost your natural levels of sex hormones by exercising, losing weight, packing on some muscle, reducing your stress and thus cortisol levels.
Getting a good night’s rest every night can also boost your hormones.
Smoking & Alcohol
The aforementioned, in addition to smoking cessation, and alcohol consumption reduction, can also boost the quality of your sperm. There are superfoods with high antioxidants that one can start consuming in larger quantities. Zinc and selenium containing foods like oysters, beans, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables can provide your body with the necessary building blocks to make quality semen. Reducing your intake of processed foods is highly encouraged as well. There are some foods that you can consider reducing intake of. Foods like soybeans contain higher amounts of phytoestrogens, which act like the female hormone estrogen on the body. Try your best to avoid toxic chemicals if you are exposed to them at say your workplace.
While the scientists are still trying to figure out what is the cause of the increase in male infertility, the best thing we can do is to reduce your risk factors for it. Not only will living healthily boost your fertility, but the general health benefits you will gain are also a plus point as well. If you do have issues with infertility, seek medical attention.
Let us doctors help you with bringing the next generation into this world!