1 in 6 couples have difficulty getting pregnant in this country. 50% of the time, it’s because of a sperm issue. There are steps you can take to improve your sperm counts and hopefully shorten your time to your next successful pregnancy. Just because you’ve achieved pregnancy easily in the past doesn’t mean you don’t have a sperm problem now. Semen quality can change over time and here are several reasons why:
1.Lifestyle factors: Drinking too much alcohol can affect sperm quality. Studies show that men who drink more than 4 servings per week may have a sperm issue. Cigarette smoke and nicotine containing products are also toxic to sperm cells. They affect the ability of the sperm cells to swim. Being overweight may cause excess heat transmission to the testicle and hormone imbalances that also decrease sperm quality. Stress can affect your sex drive so do what you can to decrease stress. Laptops, saunas and steam rooms all heat up the testicles and can decrease sperm quality. The good news is that the sperm life cycle is short – only a couple months. So any lifestyle changes you make today, can improve your chances in a short period of time. Taking vitamins can also help.
2. Anatomic issues: If you have groin pain, you may have a varicocoele. A varicocoele is a dilated vein around the testicle which transmits heat to the sperm cells and decreases their fertilization potential. Your doctor will be able to do a simple exam to assess you for a varicocoele
3. Hormonal issues: You may be feeling tired because of a stressful work life but it could be also explained by a hormonal imbalance that is also affecting your sperm quality and ability to conceive. Simple blood tests will help you determine if a hormonal issue is affecting your ability to conceive. A low testosterone level, low Vitamin D level, and abnormal thyroid function can affect both your mood and your sperm quality.
4. Medications: There are several medications that can decrease sperm quality. Review the medications you take with your doctor and confirm that they are safe to take when trying to get pregnant.
A fertility specialist can order a semen analysis for you. This simple test can help you figure out why you’re not getting pregnant easily. Depending on the results, your doctor may speak to you about options such as intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, and other procedures to give your swimmers the boost they need.