Male Infertiliy- Low Sperm Count
Male Infertiliy- Low Sperm Count
Symptoms, Causes, Natural Treatment
Infertility in a male is defined as the inability to conceive after a year or more of regular sexual activity during the time of ovulation. Male infertility accounts for 30% of infertility and is a contributing factor in another 20-30% of cases.
Men should undergo semen analysis (count, morphology, motility) and examination for testicular abnormalities if conception is not being achieved within this timeframe.
Apart from trauma or a structural abnormality, there are a number of contributory factors that can contribute and cause a low sperm count or infertility in men.
Causes of Infertility & low sperm count
- Low sperm count
- Poor sperm motility
- Poor sperm morphology
- Increased agglutination of sperm
- Structural abnormality e.g. varicocele, obstruction of seminal tract
- Testicular injury or trauma
- Recent acute or prolonged fever
- Endocrine disorders e.g. hypothyroidism, adrenal disorders
- Genitourinary infections
- Age: fertility decreases with increasing age
- Alcohol consumption
- Exposure to toxins or radiation
- Excess heat to testicular area
- Hormonal imbalances e.g. testosterone deficiency, estrogen excess
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Sexually transmitted infections
TREATMENT STRATEGY FOR MALE INFERTILITY
Important to treat both partners
- Identify / address underlying cause
- Detoxification / preconception care program: at least 3 months
- Support testosterone production
- Support healthy sperm production
- Support nervous system
- Address bacterial and fungal infections of the gut
- Assess for SIBO
- Assess and correct any methylation imbalances
- Correct nutritional deficiencies
Diet plan guidelines for Male Infertility & Low Sperm Count
- Fresh, organic whole food diet high in fruits, vegetables, fibre, nuts and seeds, oily fish, healthy fats, grass fed meat etc
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, refined vegetables oils, processed and junk foods, excessive dairy
- We regularly recommend a paleo style diet in these situations
Supplements that support Male Infertility & Low Sperm Count
- Multivitamin and antioxidant formula – lowers the time to conception and improves pregnancy rates
- Zinc – support testosterone production and reduces oxidation
- Vitamin D – improves sperm motility and morphology and androgen levels in men.
- CoQ10 – improves semen parameters and reduces oxidation
- Vitamin C – prevents agglutination of sperm and reduces oxidation
- Vitamin E – supports circulation and reduces oxidation
- Magnesium – increases sperm count and motility; reduces oxidative damage
- B12 and Methyl Folate – increases sperm count and motility, assists in correcting methylation imbalances
- Omega-3 EFAs – supports healthy hormone production
Herbal Medicine that support Male Infertility & Low Sperm Count
- Male reproductive tonics – tribulus, Korean ginseng, saw palmetto
- Nervines: damiana, oats, scullcap
- Adaptogens – Korean ginseng, Siberian ginseng, withania, astragalus
- Antioxidants – St Mary‘s thistle, turmeric, green tea, gingko, schisandra
- Hepatics – St Mary‘s thistle, schisandra, turmeric, dandelion root
- Increase sperm motility – astragalus, epimedium
Lifestyle / Physical measures
- Moderate, regular physical activity: promotes both male and female fertility. Moderation is important, however – excessive physical exercise is associated with a range of reproductive dysfunctions.
- Regular exposure to sunlight: to ensure adequate vitamin D status
- Smoking: adversely affects fertility in both males and females. Smoking affects sperm production, motility, morphology and incidence of DNA damage in males (due to increased oxidation).
- Stress, anxiety and depression: major risk factors for infertility. Increased cortisol down-regulates the HPG axis. Stress management strategies include breathing, relaxation, yoga, massage, music, counselling and/or psychological support
- Reduce exposure to environmental toxins – exposure to pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, plastics and fumes from the burning of fuels is associated with oxidative damage to sperm
- Avoid overheating of testicles: tight-fitting clothing, hot baths, spas and prolonged sitting should be avoided
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE TREATMENT OF MALE INFERTILITY
Infertility is often associated with the female however there are an increased number of couples trying to conceive that are having problems due to the fertility of the male. Fast paced lifestyles, excess alcohol and drug use, exposure to environmental toxins, compromised food chains and impaired production of testosterone all contribute to this increase.
Understanding what the driving cause of the condition is vital in patient recovery. Often there are multiple imbalances in the body that contribute to the low sperm count and infertility.
Other than environmental and structural complications, it is important to assess testosterone production as well address imbalances such as gut bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, methylation, excess conversion of testosterone to estrogen and the clearance of estrogen from the body.
At our Perth clinic of Advanced Functional Medicine we assist male with low sperm count and fertility issues improve their chances of conception. We treat patients in person at our Perth clinic and Australia wide via online video link.
If you or your partner are struggling to conceive or suffering from infertility or suspected low sperm count we would love to hear from you. Have you improved your testosterone production, if so, how? Tell us your conception story or ask us a question? Please leave a comment below.