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October 17, 2013

Male Fertility: When “Within Normal Limits” is Not Good Enough. ~ by Amy Moll

This is what every woman dealing with infertility needs to print out and give to her man—because lord knows he’s not in the magazine aisle buying Fertility Today.

Dear Sir,

Even though you appear to be in excellent shape and eat healthier than the average American, and even though your sperm analysis was deemed, “within normal limits,” the reality is that you and your partner are still not pregnant.

She’s dragging herself to yoga and she’s reading every fertility book she can get her hands on; as well as getting acupuncture twice a week, checking cervical mucous, and plotting basal body temperatures like she’s analyzing global warming patterns.

You still have the attitude, “I feel good and I’m healthy. I don’t need to take vitamins because it’s not me—it’s her.”

Let’s change that.

You want to have a baby, right?

Then why not do everything you can to improve the chances. 

Taking a few key supplements and herbs could possibly save thousands of dollars on medical procedures, and time. In the process you may have more energy and an increased sex drive; you may lose fat and gain muscle and find a better outlook on life.

When your female counterpart sees that you care enough to be an active participant in the quest to get pregnant, she will feel closer to you emotionally.

Men, that’s code for finding you more attractive—which equals more sex.

Is sperm going the way of the bees?

In 1940, the normal range for sperm counts in the United States was anything above 60 million. By 1990, normal sperm counts became anything above 20 million.

It seems we are treating sperm like we do our public education system, continuously lowering the bar.

Some reproductive endocrinologists are now advising couples diagnosed with infertility to get sperm count numbers above 30 million.

Cutting-edge fertility doctors often order three separate sperm analyses to see if there are large differences in the results and calculate an average; a sperm credit score, if you will.

Back away from the energy bar!

Speaking of declining sperm counts, in a six-year Harvard School for Public Health study published in 2008, soy was found to decrease sperm production by 40 percent in men eating just half a serving a day!

So the next time you pick up an energy bar—(while not naming any names, so please read labels)—or a protein shake, make sure it doesn’t contain any soy products.

The soy latte must go as well.

Athletics and male fertility

Men who are very athletic put a lot of additional stress on their bodies.

Stress? I thought exercise was good for you!

Yes it is, but over training can have detrimental consequences on the male immune system as well as testosterone and DHEA levels, and vitamin and mineral status—and as a consequence, fertility.

Why would endurance athletes and competitive athletes have low testosterone?

Testosterone is made from another very important hormone called DHEA. DHEA is an essential steroid hormone for rebuilding and repairing the body; including the muscles.

After spending many hours a week breaking the body down in training for an Iron Man, regional CrossFit competition, ultra-marathon, or other intense athletic events—in the name of efficiency and resourcefulness—our bodies begin using the majority of our DHEA for the necessary task of recovering from these workouts; not for making oodles and oodles of testosterone.

Large concentrations of testosterone need to be present in the testes in order for sperm to be made.  Low testosterone equates to low sperm production.

Nutrient depletion and stress

Stress, (whether it be physical, mental, or environmental), increases the need for certain vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium. Even slight nutritional deficiencies can affect the adrenal glands which are key players in male health and fertility.

When the adrenals are not functioning optimally, or when cortisol patterns are out of balance, testosterone is affected.

High cortisol equates to low testosterone, and this means low libido and decreased sperm counts.

Weed

We often tell ourselves that weed does wonders for anxiety and makes us uber creative, yet it’s also causing fertility rates to plummet. So, unless we are doing something really important with that high, (like being the next featured guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast), let’s cut it out.

In order for sperm to reach an egg, they have to swim. Just like a 400-meter sprint. the winner has to maintain a certain pace that allows them to stay in the lead—while still having enough oomph at the end to sprint through the finish line and beat all the competition.

Like the brain, sperm also have THC receptors and when they are exposed to high levels of THC, they pretty much act like most stoned people at a Phish concert, aimlessly vacillating in circles.

If you are a regular pot smoker, your semen analysis may come back looking great—but what doesn’t show up is the fact that those little swimmers have their pacing all wrong and they are suffering from their own version of burn out.

What to do

What’s my advice? First of all, don’t trust Google. Make an appointment with your doctor to get a sperm analysis, (or three), if you haven’t already done so—and consult with a reproductive endocrinologist. Also, find an acupuncturist, naturopath, chiropractor, or nutritionist who specializes in fertility and get evaluated. Ask them about diet, nutrition, and lifestyle changes that will help boost your fertility.

Finally, remember that in these days, a lot of time it takes more than two to make a baby.

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Assistant Ed: Kathryn Ashworth/Ed: Sara Crolick

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