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Male Fertility

Male Fertility

Male Fertility Problems Some men are born with testes that do not make any sperm, have very few sperm counts or poorly motile or abnormally shaped sperm. Some are born without a vas deferens ( tube that transports sperm )
Some men make less sperm than normal (a 'low sperm count'), or the sperm have poor morphology or motility.

There are a variety of factors which can reduce fertility including:

-Varicocele may affect fertility. A varicocele is common and is like a 'varicose vein' in the scrotum (the skin that covers the testes).
-Side-effects of some medicines and drugs. These include: sulphasalazine, nitrofurantoin, tetracyclines, cimetidine, colchicine, allopurinol, some chemotherapy drugs, cannabis, cocaine and anabolic steroids.
-Regular excess heat (regular saunas, hot baths, etc) is possibly a cause.
-Environmental factors may be a factor in some men. For example, a lot of exposure to chemicals, x-rays, or heavy metals.
-Certain hormone problems.
-Current or past infection of the testes.
-Tumours of the testes.
-Blockage to Vas Deferens ( tube that transports sperm )

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Home Male Fertility Tests

Home Male Fertility Tests-What should we do if the result comes back low? First thing to say is don’t panic. A low count does not mean you can not conceive it may just make it more difficult. However you do need to go and see your doctor now for further tests-this is very important.
Some of the following factors may be worth considering while you are waiting for the appointment to see the doctor.

1) Was the sample ideal? Did you follow the instructions precisely? It may be worth repeating to check this. Cooling the sample or a delay in performing the test can alter the number of active sperm, and give a false result.
2) High testes temperature. Sperm are made in the testes which are in the scrotum. This is the body's way of keeping the testes slightly cooler than the rest of the body which is best for making sperm. It is often advised for men who have a low sperm count to wear loose fitting underpants and trousers and to avoid very hot baths, saunas, etc. This aims to keep your testes slightly cooler than the rest of your body, which is thought to be good for sperm production. It is not clear whether these measures improve a sperm count, but they seem to be sensible.
3) Smoking can affect the sperm count. If you smoke, you should stop completely for optimum sperm production.
4) Alcohol. More than 16 units per week (equivalent to about 8 pints of normal strength beer or 16 small glasses of wine) may interfere with optimum fertility.
5) Drugs and medicines. Most do not interfere with sperm production, but some may do. These include: sulphasalazine, nitrofurantoin, tetracyclines, cimetidine, colchicine, allopurinol, some chemotherapy drugs, cannabis, cocaine, and anabolic steroids. If you have a low sperm count, tell a doctor if you take any drugs or medicines regularly

Male fertility issues that have been in the news

Here are some of the news issues concerning male fertility & infertility that we have come across in last few years that we thought you may find useful.

More on Wi-fi from laptops 'may damage sperm'

2/12/2011
Lots of information about this study is available on the NHS choices website
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/12December/Pages/wifi-laptop-signals-sperm-fertility-damage.aspx

This was a small study & more research is needed on this however it would seem sensible to keep the laptop off your lap if you are trying to conceive.

Scientists question if wi-fi laptops can damage sperm

This was reported 21/11/2011 on BBC News Health http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15943816
Scientists are questioning if using wi-fi on a laptop to roam the internet could harm a man's fertility, after lab work suggested ejaculated sperm were significantly damaged after only four hours of exposure.
The benchside tests showed sperm were less able to swim and had changes in the genetic code that they carry

Clue to male infertility found

This was reported on BBC Health News 21/7/2011 by By Helen Briggs, Health editor, BBC News website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14219907

As many as a quarter of men have a genetic change which makes them less fertile than usual, research suggests.
The discovery could lead to a new screening test to identify those who will take longer to father a child, experts report in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The change is in a gene that codes for a key protein found on the outside of sperm.

Male subfertility helped by antioxidants says research

This was reported 19/1/2011 on BBC News health http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12215496

Antioxidants may help improve male fertility, early research suggests.
A review of existing data found, compared with controls, a couple was more likely to have a pregnancy or live birth if the man took certain vitamins or other antioxidants.
Researchers from The Cochrane Library looked at trials of more than 1,000 couples at fertility clinics where most of the men had low sperm counts.
A UK expert said more research was needed.
Male subfertility - where a man struggles to get his partner pregnant - affects one in 12 UK men.
Some clinics advocate the use of antioxidants, which are natural and synthetic chemicals, including certain vitamins and minerals.


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Diabetes and obesity are linked to male infertiltiy

This story was reported in the Times Online July 9, 2008 by Mark Henderson, Science Editor, in Barcelona.
The obesity epidemic could be contributing to falling sperm counts and increasing male fertility problems, according to research that shows that both excess weight and diabetes can reduce the quality of a man's sperm.
Men who are obese or overweight are significantly more likely to produce abnormal sperm and low volumes of semen than those of healthy weight, and those with diabetes — which is commonly triggered by obesity — are more likely to have sperm with genetic damage, two British studies have found.
The full story was reported here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article4302390.ece
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Research findings on how toxins affect male fertility

Male painters exposed to fertility-damaging chemicals 23 May 2008

Men working as painters and decorators who are exposed to glycol ethers are more likely to have poor semen quality, according to research carried out by scientists from the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester.
The findings from the research, which have been published in the BMJ journal Occupational Environmental Medicine, show that men who work with solvents such as glycol ether have a 2.5 fold increased risk of having a low motile sperm count compared to men with low exposure. Glycol ethers are widely used in many products including water-based paints – a product used by many painters and decorators.
Sperm motility is an important factor in the fertility of men and the concentration of motile sperm per ejaculate has shown to be linked with conception. However, the size and shape of sperm (morphology) and the quality of sperm DNA are also important factors that may be affected by chemical exposure.
The findings are a result of a major collaborative UK study to determine the occupational risks of male infertility through chemical exposure in the workplace. The study, undertaken in 14 fertility clinics in 11 cities across the UK, examined the working lives of 2,118 men.
The researchers however did conclude that, apart from glycol ether, there are currently few workplace chemical threats to male fertility.
In additional to chemical exposure, the study looked at other non-chemical factors in the men’s lifestyle. The researchers discovered that men who had undergone previous surgery to the testicles or who undertook manual work were more likely to have low motile sperm counts, whereas men who drank alcohol regularly or wore boxer shorts were more likely to have better semen quality.
Dr Andy Povey, senior lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, said: “We know that certain glycol ethers can affect male fertility and the use of these has reduced over the past two decades. However our results suggest that they are still a workplace hazard and that further work is needed to reduce such exposure.”
Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in Andrology at the University of Sheffield, added: “Infertile men are often concerned about whether chemicals they are exposed to in the workplace are harming their fertility. Therefore it is reassuring to know that on the whole the risk seems to be quite low.”
The study was funded by the UK Health and Safety Executive, the UK Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, the UK Department of Health and the European Chemical Industry Council.

Information taken from
http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=3672

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