If you are a would-be father with infertility problems, you might be advised to lose weight, take antioxidant supplements, and wear freeze-pack underwear to cool the testicles. Such treatments may be indicated because, according to a recent article the The Daily Mail, more than half the cases where couples face infertility are due to the man’s sperm quality.
On the other hand, the man may not be asked to do these things. Some say this is because the infertility industry is led by gynecologists specializing in female reproduction, and therefore it often focuses too much on the woman and not enough on the man. “There is a lack of recognition that male infertility is a problem — and because of this, a lot of IVF is unnecessary,” Dr Ashok Agarwal, a leading infertility specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, told The Daily Mail. One disgruntled would-be dad interviewed by the newspaper complained that he and his wife spent $34,000.00 (Canadian) on failed IVF, only to later be told by the clinic that the problem was not with her, but with his sperm.
To make matters worse, sperm counts generally in the developed world have dropped 59.3 per cent between 1973 and 2011. Some possible explanations have been suggested, such as poor lifestyle, obesity, and diabetes. However, many men with sperm problems are fit and healthy. In these cases, it has been suggested that heavily processed foods, environmental pollution, and even female hormones in the water supply — from contraceptive pills — could be the culprits.
In any event, there are several strategies to help boost sperm health. Losing weight is a good idea, because according to one study, obese men tend to have lower sperm counts and poorer quality sperm. Going to bed early seems to help too: one study found that men who went to bed by 10pm had better sperm counts than those who went to bed later, even if they got a similar amount of sleep. Smoking is not good for fertility, and neither is binge drinking.
Exercise seems to help. One study found that 25 minutes three times a week can improve sperm motility and increase numbers by about 20 per cent. Another factor is temperature: cooler testicles produce sperm more effectively, which is why they hang outside the body. (The ideal temperature for sperm production is 34.5C, whereas body temperature is 37C.) Would-be fathers are therefore usually advised to avoid tight-fitting underwear, or sitting still in a warm car or room for hours, which can cause overheating and stop sperm production. Moreover, ice-pack underwear is available from a company called “Snowballs” to facilitate sperm production.
For advice on family and fertility law issues, contact Shirley Levitan.