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INFERTILITY HOL-emblem1-web.GIF (3556 bytes)

Men and Sperm Health

by Dr. Mike Berkley

Men - What You Do On A Daily Basis Affects Your Sperm Maturation Process

While a woman is born with all the eggs she'll ever have, men produce sperm on a continual basis. Therefore, what a man does on a daily basis can affect the sperm maturation process.

 

Smoking, drinking, drugs, stress, poor nutrition and lack of exercise all can contribute to poor sperm quality. And, it was recently discovered, a man's sperm quality begins to decline around the age of 25.
There are five main factors that contribute to overall sperm quality. They include sperm motility, speed, count, concentration and morphology (shape and size).

A weakness in any of these areas can affect the chances of conception.

Motility

Sperm motility is a term that describes sperm's ability to move in an active fashion: in other words, are the sperm "strong swimmers?" In healthy sperm, typically more than 50% are active with over 25% moving forcefully in one direction. Motility enables the sperm to travel through the cervical canal, into the uterus and the fallopian tubes and, finally, to penetrate the egg.

Speed

The forward movement of sperm called progressive motility, forward progression or rapid linear progression. There are also several different ways to classify forward movement.

According to the World Health Organization (1999), in a healthy male, greater than 25% of sperm will exhibit progressive motility. It is thought that these are the sperm with the best chance of successfully fertilizing an egg.

Rapid linear progression showed a greater than 60 % improvement after four months of treatment with acupuncture, herbal medicine and supplements.

Sperm Count

Sperm count refers to the number of sperm in the fluid that is ejaculated (semen). There are over 40 million sperm in a normal ejaculate. A total count below 40 million may indicate decreased fertility.

With the Berkley Center's unique protocol of acupuncture, herbal medicine and supplements, count increased more than 14 % after four months of treatment.

Concentration

Concentration is a measure of the number of sperm cells in a milliliter of semen. Normal concentration is at least 20 million sperm cells per milliliter of semen.

With the Berkley Center's unique protocol combining acupuncture, herbal medicine and the appropriate supplements, concentration improved after four months of treatment.

Morphology (shape and size)

A healthy sperm cell will have a shape similar to a tadpole. The sperm's oval head contains the genetic material, the center provides energy and the tail propels the sperm forward.

Using the strict criteria put forth by the World Health Organization (1999), studies of Assisted Reproductive Technology programs show lower pregnancy rates with less than 15% normal forms. Furthermore, experts believe that abnormally shaped sperm cannot fertilize an egg.

Subfertility

The term, subfertility, refers to couples that are unable to achieve conception after a year of unprotected intercourse (or 6 months if the woman is over age 35). It is different from infertility. A subfertile couple merely has lower odds of conceiving during any given month than fertile couples.

Statistics at a glance

* Human reproduction is surprisingly inefficient and quite complex -- the likelihood of pregnancy within any given month is believed to be only 25 percent among fertile couples.

* 1 out of 12 couples have subfertility.

* Male-related factors account for 40 percent of subfertility. Female-related factors account for another 40 percent and a combination of male- and female-related factors account for about 20 percent.

* About 90% of all subfertility can be traced to specific causes that can be treated. 

Typical causes of male subfertility

* Sperm production problems

* Blockages in the sperm's delivery system

* Injuries to the testicles

* Low or high hormone production

* Anatomical problems

* Varicocele (varicose veins around the testicle)

* Past illnesses/infections/various diseases

* Certain medications 

Sperm quality

Sperm quality is a contributing factor for 40 percent of couples experiencing infertility. There are five main factors that contribute to sperm quality:

* Motility: The ability to move in an active fashion. In healthy sperm, typically more than 50% are active with over 25% moving forcefully in one direction. Motility is what enables a sperm to travel up the cervical canal, into the uterus and the fallopian tubes and, finally, penetrate the egg.

* Speed: Progressive motility. In a healthy male, greater than 25% of sperm will exhibit progressive motility. It is thought that these are the sperm with the best chance of successfully fertilizing an egg.

* Count: The number of sperm in the fluid that is ejaculated (semen). There are over 40 million sperm in a normal ejaculate. A total count below 40 million may indicate decreased fertility.

* Concentration: A measure of the number of sperm cells in a milliliter of semen. Normal concentration is at least 20 million sperm cells per milliliter of semen.

* Morphology: The shape and size of the sperm. A healthy sperm cell will have a shape similar to a tadpole. The sperm's oval head contains the genetic material, the center provides energy and the tail propels the sperm forward. 

Using the strict criteria put forth by the World Health Organization (1999), studies show lower pregnancy rates with less than 15% normal forms. Furthermore, experts believe that abnormally shaped sperm cannot fertilize an egg.

Motility, speed and morphology appear to be the most important factors to assess the fertilizing capability of sperm. Despite a low sperm count, many men with high-quality (viable and highly mobile) sperm may still be fertile.

By combining acupuncture, herbal medicine and supplements we have been able to effectively enhance and improve the quality of sperm. Not only do the count, morphology and motility improve but sperm fragmentation is often successfully treated.

Another excellent application of the Berkley Center's protocol is varicocelectomy recovery. One of the causes of lack of improvement in sperm quality and count after a varicocelectomy is due to a lack of blood flow to the testicles. The proper application of acupuncture, herbal medicine and supplements has been shown to successfully enhance blood flow to the testicles and facilitate healing and significant improvement after varicocelectomy.

See Also:

Acupuncture for treatment of male infertility

Factors That Will Affect Sperm Health
Going through the tortuous trial of trying to conceive leaves many couples extremely stressed out. So, which at the time of sperm analysis everything appears normal, over time, due to the stress inherent with the situation, the sperm quantity may in fact be effected.

The Effects of Diet on Infertiltiy
Overwhelmed by studies, research and the constantly changing diet, nutrition and food recommendations? With so many conflicting opinions and studies it's a full time job trying to keep up with the do's and don'ts.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Infertility
Although health and healing are the common goals of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and allopathic medicine, their ideas on the etiology of disease, disease itself and the process used to regain health are decidedly different.

More on Infertility  

Dr. Mike Berkley has been treating male factor fertility disorders since 1996 with amazing results. He works exclusively in the area of reproductive medicine and enjoys working in conjunction with some of New York’s most prestigious reproductive endocrinologists. Sign up for his free newsletter at www.BerkleyCenter.com

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