Male infertility – Army losing stamina
Years of new research shows that men need to watch out for their fertility. It was always known that male infertility depends on various internal and external factors that change naturally during life, but now experts warn that a series of factors can influence fertility of a healthy man. Process of creating new sperm, called spermatogenesis lasts from 75 – 85 days under the influence of a male sex hormone testosterone made by testicles.
Therefore in every cycle new sperm can differ from the last one, by the numbers and quality. And those elements are the important ones when we talk about male fertility. Sperm is made out of spermatozoa, secretion of sex glands and secretion of epididymis. Usually there are some cells included also like cells from the urinary tract, white blood cells or in some cases various microorganisms.
It’s totally normal that sperm changes from day to day even from a healthy male. To make an analysis of the sperm quality, men need to restrain from sex for 3-5 days to get more precise results. Semen analysis is called spermiogram and its routine test to determine the fertility and presence of microorganisms and inflammatory cells in sex glands. Results can vary since spermiogram is not a perfect test and factors like smoking, alcohol, drugs or hormonal intakes along with individual oscillations like change of temperature inside the scrotum due to things like hot baths, saunas, elevated body temperature or some inflamminations, can affect the test. But the test can still show the overall reproduction function status of a male.
The most often cause of the male infertility is a smaller number of spermatozoa called oligospermia and weak mobility of spermatozoa called asthenospermia. Last studies show that today male infertility is the cause of more than 40% of infertility cases in marriage, while some 40 years ago it was around 20%. What is the exact cause of the increased male infertility is still under the debate, but researches show there is a progressive drop of overall number of sperm inside the seminal fluid, especially the mobile and quality spermatozoa.
Chaos in the system
The drop in the number of those mobile and quality spermatozoa in overall numbers is the main issue since those are the ones that can fertilize the egg cells. Even though that is not a final conclusion about risk of fertilization, since it takes only one in a millions, the continuation of this trend will raise that risk in the future. The research shows that larger numbers of men with smaller numbers of sperm also have weaker motility of spermatozoa (oligoasthenospermia), while men with weaker motility of spermatozoa still have the normal number of sperm in seminal fluid. In the special category are men that don’t have any motility in the sperm (necrospermia).
Normal sperm numbers consist of about 50% mobile spermatozoa and half of that of progressively motile spermatozoa – more important ones since they move forward. Most common causes of weak sperm motility are various acute and chronic infections in the urinary tract, bladder, prostate or testicles. In that case after the urology exam, it’s important to do microbiological tests like urine culture, semen culture, urethral swab for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, chlamydia, mycoplasma and ureaplasma.
During the urology exam that includes the color doppler ultrasound of scrotum it’s easy to see possible problems like varicocele, a mass of varicose veins in the spermatic cord, since it can also be a reason for weak motility of sperm. Treatment for weak sperm motility depends on the cause, and the most frequent one is sexual infections that can be treated depending on antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) by a specific antibiotic. If the cause is sexually transmitted diseases (STD) then both partners need to be treated to avoid returning of infection and making it more resistant to further treatments. Varicocele as a cause of male infertility can be treated with classic or laparoscopic operation where the veins are tied off.
Male powerful allies
There are some supplements that can help with weak sperm motility:
L-arginine – is an amino acid that our body makes and is naturally found in foods containing protein. In studies it was found to be helpful in increasing sperm count.
Vitamins C and E – they help in sperm creation.
Selenium and Zinc – they help in keeping the health of testicles and prostate in good shape.
L-carnitine – study shows that men with fertility problems while taking the supplements with L-carnitine had improved sperm motility.
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