The Other Half of the Equation: Sperm Quality!
For any woman trying to conceive, sperm quality matters. It matters even more when there are issues such as low ovarian reserve, or few eggs to collect during an IVF cycle for example.
New research is also revealing that sperm quality may be a factor in recurrent miscarriage, making it all the more important that the male partner or donor has the knowledge to be able to do everything possible to support their sperm quality in the months before conception
As many as two out of every five couples with fertility problems require treatment of both spouses, and in 25 percent of the couples their fertility problem rests with the male partner alone. All too often however I only see the female partner at my clinic.
Granted, the female is usually the focus of fertility treatment with regard to scans, medications, procedures, injections, appointments…… even if these treatments are to circumvent a sperm issue.
Yet, whether conception is by natural or assisted means, the male side of the equation is rarely given the attention it deserves. Part of the problem, I think, is that the male role is overly focussed on the three standard measures of sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology
If a semen analysis reveals low sperm count, poor sperm motility or morphology then a technique known as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is usually used alongside the females IVF protocol. And that is usually it.
In my experience, the male partner often feels positively left out, reduced to the role of sperm donor. However, there is so much that can be done to improve both sperm quality and to make the journey a much more shared experience.
So how can sperm quality be improved?
Firstly, it’s important to be aware that sperm production takes around 3 months, so it is vitality important that preparations are made well ahead of the planned fertility/IVF window. Some adjustments that can be made include the following:
- take a daily multivitamin, preferably one containing folic acid
- take daily anti-oxidant supplement
- take a look at your diet – is it good enough? Really?
- reduce alcohol consumption
- reduce exposure to toxins -phthalates, BPA, lead and the chemicals in commercial lubricants
- don’t keep your mobile phone in your jeans pocket
- keep cool where it matters!
Acupuncture could be considered as a treatment in combination with proper nutrition.
I recommend that you use an acupuncturist that is registered with an accredited professional body such as The British Acupuncture Association because members of the BAA are guaranteed to have completed full training to degree level and will be covered by most private health insurers.