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Dealing with male infertility

Posted February 23rd, 2015, 12:07 PM IST

Dealing with male infertility

The quality of our semen is a major concern as it decides the future of mankind. For this reason, infertility experts are closely monitoring the various aspects that affect fertility.

With 30 per cent of men visiting infertility clinics in India with grave symptoms, it has become important to look at the factors affecting the quality of sperms.
It is very important for men to understand that male infertility is a medical condition and not a curse. Accepting the problem allows for its solution rather than denying it, which leads to stress, agony and depression.

Sedentary lifestyle, early onset of diabetes and hypertension are some of the major causes of low sperm count apart from radiation from cellphones and laptops. Experts maintain that the most important reasons continue to be infections, injuries causing testicular trauma and excessive heat or indirect sources like radio or chemotherapy, drugs, environmental toxins, tobacco and alcohol. Other common reasons being undescended testes, genetic problems and previous surgery.

Multiple factors affect sperm count - Chandana Lakkireddi

The mortality, morphology and count of sperms are affected due to electro-magnetic waves. That’s because sperms are electrically active cells. For this reason cellphone firms have been asked since the year 2000 to place labels on phones disclosing radiation levels. Similarly, placing laptops on the lap raises the scrotum temperature. Wearing tight sports clothes are also not advised.

Human testes need physiological temperature of 2° lower than the body temperature for optimal production of sperm. The sperms are also affected due to diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Dr Chandana Lakkireddi, senior consultant at Nova IVI Hyderabad, said, “Obese men are three times more likely to exhibit a reduction in semen quality than men of a normal weight. Studies have demonstrated that an increase in Body Mass Index is correlated with decrease in sperm concentration. A relationship also exists between obesity and erectile dysfunction (ED).”

The Causes of Male infertility

Unexplained semen abnormality — this accounts for up to half the patients overall.
Diabetes and hypertension cause erectile disturbances and these have an impact on fertility.
Smoking and use of anabolic steroids, chiefly used to build muscles as a short-cut.
Excessive usage of mobile phones, laptops and devices.
Lead and carbon monoxide — Men working in highly polluted environment should opt for remedial measures.
Stress, both social and physical.

Avoid Long working hours - Dr Ratna Durvasula

Modern day work culture also has a bad effect on male fertility. Long working hours in front of the computer without a break, night shifts, deadlines, no proper diet and the increasing consumption of junk food at any hour of the day or night are some of the factors.

Dr Ratna Durvasula, consultant infertility specialist at Rainbow Hospitals, explains, “We have seen cases where partners are travelling frequently between cities and countries to be ‘on site’. The changes in time zones between India, the US and the UK result in decreasing sexual activity at proper times. Due to this, the male cycle of sexual activity is affected, and over a prolonged period of time it starts showing effects. Those who opt for children after 35 or 40 years are found to have issues with their sperm quality. Sperm cells are continuously dividing and these are more prone to damage by toxins.”

The right nutrition

A balanced diet leads to a good sperm count and function.
Fresh fruits and vegetables give all the important nutrients needed for sperm production and function.
Vitamin C , which is found in citrus fruits, amla and tomatoes is an important pro-fertility vitamin.
Among minerals, zinc is important. Zinc-rich foods are red meats, almonds, whole grains and yogurt.
Foods rich in antioxidants improve general health and fertility parameters.
Cutting down on junk food, fried foods, or sweets also have a positive impact on fertility.

‘Exercise at least 7 hours a week’ - Dr Sanjay Sinha

Several studies have evaluated the effects of lifestyle on semen quality where it shows that lack of sleep, excessive sedentary lifestyle like sitting for a long time before a computer, watching television and psychological stress also has an adverse impact on semen quality.

Dr Sanjay Sinha, senior consultant urologist and transplant surgeon at Apollo Hospital , says, “Regular exercise has been shown to have a beneficial impact on semen in many studies. At least seven hours — some studies suggest more than 15 hours of exercise — per week seems to benefit and improve levels.” Also, semen needs adequate micronutrients and some men with semen abnormalities might benefit from supplementation of such nutrients.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that otherwise normal men may benefit in some way by using special micronutrients. Regular supplementation is not recommended for normal men. Eating a healthy diet with adequate amounts of different classes of food is recommended for all men.

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