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Coping with Male Infertility

© Lauri M. Aesoph ND

In a review article by A.V. McGrady from the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, there are several incidence showing how mild to serious emotional pressure affects male fertility. Students at an officer-candidate school had lower testosterone levels when stress rose. Spermatogenesis, or sperm formation, almost came to a standstill in prisoners who were sentenced to death and then kept waiting. Even long-term infertility treatment can impair a man's fertility.

In addition, unabated fatigue, worry about family and business and other pressures may dampen a man's fertility, libido, sexual performance and general interest in a relationship (Archives of Andrology, 1984, vol 13).

Drugs and Other Considerations
If you're concerned about fertility, look at any drugs you're taking be they prescription, over-the-counter or recreational. Like other chemicals, many drugs reduce sperm quality and quantity.

If you're on a long-term prescription, ask your doctor the effects of your medication on fertility. If you want to do your own research, find a copy of the Physician's Desk Reference, an annual publication that lists all prescription drugs and describes their use and side effects. When you're having X-rays for diagnostic reasons (including dental) or treatment, make sure your genital area is covered with a lead apron. If the technician or doctor doesn't offer you one, request it.

One-third of men of reproductive age smoke cigarettes. Passive smoke affects even more men. The harmful substances emitted by cigarette smoke include not only nicotine and carbon and monoxide, but products that cause cancer and hurt your sperm (and therefore your baby). Tobacco's by-products wind their way to the testes, disrupting sperm production and function. They effect sperms' attachment and penetration of the egg (Archives of Andrology, 1995, vol 34). Even impotence tends to be higher in smokers versus nonsmokers (American Journal of Epidemiology, 1994, vol 140).

Like cigarettes, cocaine use hurts both sperm development and any baby that may result. Ricardo Yazigi, MD from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that sperm may actually transport cocaine to the egg (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1991, vol 266). A Yale study headed by Michael Bracken, PhD discovered that cocaine use was associated with slower and more abnormal sperm as well as lower sperm counts and concentrations (Fertility and Sterility, 1990, vol 53).

Because sperm production is thwarted by heat, unintentional warming of the testicles can decrease the fertility of an otherwise normal man. Some couples become pregnant after just a few simple, cooling precautions. If parenthood eludes you, consider avoiding hot tubs, saunas, long hot baths (tepid baths and showers are OK), wearing tight underwear (trade your jockeys in for boxers), athletic supporters and tight pants. Like most male treatments, do this for at least three months to allow new sperm to form and mature (Fertility and Sterility, 1986, vol 46 and professional experience).

There are so many conservative natural approaches to consider when faced with infertility before launching into expensive, complex treatments. While they may involve changes in how you eat or live, difficult for most of us, the results can be very rewarding.


Did You Know?
Unlike most creatures, human reproductive behavior isn't dictated by seasons...or is it? In Houston, at the University of Texas Health Center, Wilie Tjoa, MD, PhD found out that sperm counts and concentrations fluctuated throughout the year. Sperm quantity peaked between February and March, and sank to its lowest during September (Fertility and Sterility, 1982, vol 38).
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