Poor sperm motility means the sperm aren't moving or swimming as they should and this is what leads to male infertility. This means the sperm won't be able to reach the partner's eggs. A man's body has to produce testosterone as well as other hormones to trigger sperm production, otherwise low sperm count or low sperm quality are the result.
Declining Sperm Levels - the curse of the Modern World
Semen quality in today's modern world is declining, and lifestyle, stress, environmental factors and exposure to radiation could be contributing to the predicament. Over the last decades, male sperm counts have declined drastically and anything under 15 million is considered a low sperm count.
Other health issues are defects of tubules that transport sperm, hormone imbalances, chromosome defects and certain medications. Of course, there are also environmental causes such as overheating the testicles, drug use, emotional stress and weight.
Diet has an impact on male reproductive potential. Certainly, to promote sperm health, men are required to eat a nutrient dense diet so as to prevent damage to sperm. Nutrients such as selenium and zinc as well as vitamin C can increase sperm health and motility. Diet is important to control weight. Medical professionals at University of Porto, Portugal discuss obesity and its impact on the reproductive potential of males and how it promotes hormonal dysfunction.
There is a number of other health issues that give problems with male infertility. We look at some of these -
During fetal development, one or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac or scrotum that contains the testicles.
The Zika virus
Scientists have discovered that mice infected with Zika had low sperm counts, low testosterone levels and shrunken testicles. Experts have suggested that the virus may have consequences for infected men.
This is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. The scrotum holds the testicles and also contains the arteries and veins which take blood to the reproductive glands, but a vein abnormality can result in a varicocele - an enlargement of the veins in the scrotum. Treating the varicocele can improve sperm numbers. Currently, the main procedures for varicocele repair are micro-surgical subinguinal or laparoscopic varicocelectomy. Micro-surgical varicocelectomy seems to be the optimal treatment in most cases. After treatment, it will take about 3 to 6 months for semen parameters to improve. If infertility persists, other therapies such as assisted reproductive technology can be considered., more so in older couples.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Active inflammation, smoking and alcohol use, poor nutrition, some medications and surgery may cause infertility in men with IBD.
Even non-malignant tumors can affect the male reproductive organs. Sometimes surgery or chemotherapy to treat cancers can affect male fertility.
Some infections can result in scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. A type of infection which can contribute to male infertility is inflammation of the epididymis or testicles.
The first assessment of infertile male patients is detailed and needs to include a recording of the patient's medical history. Detailed coital history discloses problems such as erectile dysfunction, anejaculation (when the prostate gland and seminal ducts can't release semen), wrong timing of intercourse and inappropriate coital technique. A physical examination of the patient is performed.
20 million to 300 million is the regular range for sperm per milliliter. Counts below 15 million are looked upon as poor.
Treatment and Management
In the 21st century, it is increasingly common to have couples who are experiencing conception problems. While modern medicine has its own solutions for assisting infertile couples, complementary medicine can also help as they concentrate on restoring health. Treatment is always individual and placed on the correct diagnosis.
The patient’s lifestyle, their mind-set and their relationships influence both diagnosis and treatment. The aim of complementary medicine is to empower people to take responsibility for their own lives so as to restore health. Diet, lifestyle changes and herbal supplements are all paths to good health.
Some tips to help towards treatment include -
● Avoid using plastic containers for food- and drink storage.
● Try and drink less coffee, tea and alcohol.
● Maintain your ideal weight. Obesity can be associated with a low sperm count.
● Try and relieve stress and anxiety.
● Take nutritional supplements. Zinc for instance can improve testosterone levels, sperm count- and motility. Other nutrients that improve sperm counts include chromium, vitamin E and essential fatty acids. There are many herbal remedies such as panax ginseng, ginkgo biloba extract and horny goat weed among others that are effective for treating male infertility as well as blood flow to the sexual organs.
● Exercise - check with a personal trainer if you're not sure what kind of exercise to do.
● Eat organic food wherever possible to avoid consuming foods grown in toxic soils and where pesticides and non-organic fertilizers have been used.
● Avoid heavily fried, charcoal-broiled forms of food and cooking.
● Increase your intake of foods high in anti-oxidants such as green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach. Certainly, consuming plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes can help improve your chances of being more fertile.
The impact of the work would have important implications and would reduce the stress caused from having infertility problems and offer hope to those couples trying to conceive.
PubMed. Leaver RB. Male infertility: an overview of causes and treatment options. Br J Nurs. 2016 Oct 13;25(18):S35-S40. Review.PMID: 27734725. Published Online: October 13, 2016. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=cause+of+infertility+in+men
EurekAlert. Obesity and male infertility: A global health problem. Public Release: 14-Apr-2016. Available at https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/bsp-oam041416.php
ScienceDaily. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). New sperm research could lead to cut in infertility rate. Available at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161031085943.htm