One in six couples has difficulty getting pregnant in this country. 50% of the time, it’s because of a sperm issue. There are steps you can take to improve sperm count and hopefully shorten the time to a successful pregnancy. Although you may have conceived easily in the past, semen quality can change over time and there are several reasons why:
1. Lifestyle factors: Drinking too much alcohol can affect sperm quality. Studies show that men who drink more than 4 servings per week may have a sperm issue. Cigarette smoke and nicotine containing products are also toxic to sperm cells. They affect the ability of the sperm cells to swim. Being overweight may cause excess heat transmission to the testicle and hormone imbalances that also decrease sperm quality. Stress can also affect your sex drive. Laptops, saunas and steam rooms all heat up the testicles and can decrease sperm quality. The good news is that the sperm life cycle is short – only a couple months. So any lifestyle changes you make today, can improve your chances in a short period of time. Taking vitamins can also help.
2. Anatomic issues: If you have groin pain, you may have a varicocoele. A varicocoele is a dilated vein around the testicle which transmits heat to the sperm cells and decreases their fertilization potential. Your doctor will be able to do a simple exam to assess you for a varicocoele
3. Hormonal issues: You may be feeling tired because of a stressful work life but it could be also explained by a hormonal imbalance that is also affecting your sperm quality and ability to conceive. Simple blood tests will help you determine if a hormonal issue is affecting your ability to conceive. A low testosterone level, low Vitamin D level, and abnormal thyroid function can affect both your mood and your sperm quality.
4. Medications: There are several medications that can decrease sperm quality. Review the medications you take with your doctor and confirm that they are safe to take when trying to get pregnant.
A fertility specialist can order a semen analysis for you. This simple test can help you figure out why you’re not getting pregnant easily. Depending on the results, your doctor may speak to you about options such as intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and other procedures to give your swimmers the boost they need.
Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, is a native of the Bay Area. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Medicine. After completing her residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, she completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at University of Michigan. She also completed a Masters in Public Health in Health Management and Policy at University of Michigan. Dr. Eyvazzadeh is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and continues to contribute to research in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility. You can email her directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. http://draimee.org/