Fighting male infertility

Things men should be doing, things they shouldn't

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Millions of couples suffer from infertility. While many people tend to think of it as being a problem with the woman, at least 50 percent of the time it's because of the man!

"Family has always been important to both Jason and I. So we've always wanted to have a family of our own," said Anita Hansen.

But Anita and her husband Jason could not get pregnant.

"I was tested first through my ob-gyn and had various tests and stuff done and then afterwards they asked Jason if he could get tested," said Anita.

Dr. Sherman Silber, Director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis, in Missouri, is one of the leading infertility specialists in the country. He says a number of issues can cause male infertility.

"It can be caused by having mumps after puberty, or by a hernia repair that the child had, or you can have an infection, an STD that can result in scarring with blockage," explained Silber.

The Mayo Clinic says stress can reduce sperm and the C.D.C. reports cocaine and marijuana can lower the count too. From high fevers to saunas to hot tubs, overheating the testicles can also hurt fertility. And watch were you put that laptop guys. A study found they can overheat the testicles in minutes, and protective pads do not prevent it from happening! Jason's issue was something he's had all his life.

"I was born without Vas Deferens tubes," said Jason.

An outpatient procedure helped extract his sperm. The couple got pregnant on their first round of in-vitro fertilization. Now, they're expecting twin boys!

To help boost fertility, guys can also try upping their vitamin C. A small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods reports men who took one thousand milligrams of vitamin C twice a day significantly improved their sperm quality. The American Dietetic Association recommends men consume at least 90 milligrams of vitamin C a day to improve their fertility.

Additional Information:

BACKGROUND: Infertility is defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after one year of unprotected intercourse. An estimated 15% of couples meet this criterion and are considered infertile, with approximately 35% due to female factors alone, 30% due to male factors alone, 20% due to a combination of female and male factors, and 15% unexplained. Conditions of the male that affect fertility are still generally underdiagnosed and undertreated. (SOURCE:

CAUSES: Male infertility has many causes; from hormonal imbalances, to physical problems, to psychological and/or behavioral problems.  Moreover, fertility reflects a man's "overall" health.  Men who live a healthy lifestyle are more likely to produce healthy sperm.  The following list highlights some lifestyle choices that negatively impact male fertility--it is not all-inclusive:

  • Overly intense exercise produces high levels of adrenal steroid hormones, which can cause a testosterone deficiency, resulting in infertility. 
  • Tight underwear increases scrotal temperature, which results in decreased sperm production.


SYMPTOMS: The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases, however, an underlying problem, such as, an inherited disorder, hormonal imbalance, or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm, may cause signs and symptoms. Male infertility signs and symptoms can include:

  • Pain, swelling, or a lump in the testicle area
  • Decreased facial or body hair, or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
  • Having a lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)



TREATMENT: Doctors try to improve fertility by either correcting an underlying problem, if one is found, or trying treatments that seem like they may be helpful.  Treatments for male infertility include:

  • Hormone treatments and medications: Doctors may recommend hormone replacement or medications in cases where infertility is caused by high or low levels of certain hormones or problems with the way the body uses hormones.
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART): ART treatments involve obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction, or from donor individuals. The sperm is then inserted into the female genital tract, or used to perform in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.


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