By Dr. A.H. Serdar
One of the realities that some married couples have to face is their inability to have children. While infertility may be blamed on women, the dilemma can also be due to the sperm problem of men. Fifty percent of fertility troubles that couples experience are cause by a difficulty with male fertility. Sperm production can be affected by different causes, such as testicular factors, sperm morphology, sperm motility, genetic defects, trauma, different kind of infections, and emotional stress. Various infertile men are worried about their small number of sperm count, and this seems to turn into the major anxiety in their life. According to the World Health Organization, “if a man’s sperm count is less than 20 million per milliliter, he is considered at risk of being infertile.” People’s life styles play extremely significant roles in their marital time and in successful pregnancies. Lifestyle habits have long-term impacts on male potency.
To begin with, the word sperm refers to the male reproductive cells. The human sperm cell is haploid, so that its 23 chromosomes can link the 23 chromosomes of the woman egg to form a diploid cell. According to Spermatazoon (2010):
In male humans, sperm cells consist of a head 5 µm  by 3 µm and a tail 50 µm long. Semen has an alkaline nature, and they do not reach full motility (hypermotility) until they reach the vagina where the alkaline pH is neutralized by acidic vaginal fluids. This gradual process takes 20–30 minutes. In this time, fibrinogen from the seminal vesicles forms a clot, securing and protecting the sperm. Just as they become hypermotile, fibrinolysin from the prostate dissolves the clot, allowing the sperm to progress optimally.
Semen is a white or grey fluid, typically, each milliliter of semen has millions of spermatozoa (sperm); nevertheless, the greater part of the amount consists of secretions of the glands in the male reproductive organs. According to What is Normal Sperm(2010), The World Health Organization provides a definition of a ‘normal’ sperm count that includes seven factors, with the first being that “[t]he concentration of spermatozoa should be at least 20 million per ml.” Next, the WHO states that “the total volume of semen should be at least 2ml.” Next, informs that “the total number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate should be at least 40 million.” Than says, “at least 75 per cent of the spermatozoa should be alive (it is normal for up to 25 per cent to be dead). At least 30 per cent of the spermatozoa should be of normal shape and form.” Finally informs that “A least 25 per cent of the spermatozoa should be swimming with rapid forward movement. At least 50 per cent of the spermatozoa should be swimming forward, even if only sluggishly.”
There are many male factors that can make a couple unable to have baby, but there are three major life styles that can effect to quantity of sperms. Any one of them might lead to men infertility. Many studies have examined the effects of that lifestyle on the risk of disease and male health.
The first is effect of Alcohol to men’s sexual organs. Men who frequently drink great amounts of alcohol can have severe troubles with their productiveness. Alcoholics frequently have problems with achieving an erection. Moreover, since alcohol damages the liver, According to can Alcohol Affect Male Fertility (2010) alcoholics are more likely to have upper levels of estrogen in their organism, which is able to severely repress sperm. Furthermore, alcohol abuse has been linked with hurting sperm and decreased sperm counts. A person’s life style, education has close connection with this matter. So what is the relationship between education and seeking rehabilitation for a drinking problem? Answered to this question The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba:
Over half (55.5%) of the clients in Addictions Foundation of Manitoba’s Adult Rehabilitation Service in 2000-01 reported that they did not finish high school. Almost one quarter (22.5%) completed high school. The rest (22.1%) report having some post secondary education, whether complete or incomplete. The percentage of those who reported having a complete undergraduate or graduate university degree was only 4.5%.
Alcohol is one of the `major causes of infertility. It affects blood flow and acts on brain centers with effects that impede the ability to hold an erection. According to The Canadian Health Guide, “alcohol has a “feminizing” effect on the male hormone system so that long-term use may destroy erectile capacity. Heavy drinking lowers testosterone levels, diminishes male sex drive and effectively “castrates” men, causing erectile dysfunction. Alcohol also triggers conversion of androgens (male sex hormones) to estrogens (female sex hormones), sometimes causing hair loss and breast enlargement.” However, over drinking alcohol may finally cause atrophy of the testes and damage the mechanism that transports blood into the penis.
Alcoholism raises the estrogen level in men. Many men are amazed to find out that estrogen (a female hormone) also exists in their organisms. It is formed in extremely small amounts. Estrogen in men is necessary to defend the heart, promote a vigorous libido, support the bones and recover brain task. High levels of estrogen can cause fatigue, decreases levels of testosterone, loss of muscle tone, an enlarged prostate increased body fat, loss of libido and sexual function. According to Can Alcohol Affect Male Fertility (2010) “while alcoholism raises the estrogen level in men this will in turn interfere with his hormones and sperm development. Alcohol is a toxin that tends to kill sperm generating cells in men. Worse still, chronic alcoholism can cause atrophy in the testicles, gynecomastia and the lack of sexual interest.” Estrogen in the body makes the absorption of alcohol more speedily and breaks it down fewer. Thus, by drinking alcohol the estrogen levels will expand considerably. So high levels of estrogen can cause decreased levels of testosterone, and it leads to loss of sexual function, libido and a larger prostate.
In men, testosterone is acting as a key function in physical condition and health. Testosterone is responsible for ordinary development of male reproductive organs. It facilitates the development of secondary male sex characteristics. Moreover, normal testosterone levels preserve energy level, fertility, healthy mood, as well as sexual need. According to Does Alcohol Affect Your Sperm Count(2009) Extreme alcohol use causes a disorder in the gonads resulting in changes in construction of the testicles and decline in the T serum level. A drop in the T serum level can cause men sterility.
Sperms are shaped in the testes and move through the reproductive system. At fertilization, one sperm of the about 300 million in a normal ejaculation fertilizes an egg. But the toxicity of too much alcohol can reduce sperm density or sperm count. According to Does Alcohol Affect Your Sperm Count (2009), “typically the volume of a single ejaculate is three milliliters with 120 million sperm cells per ml. But alcohol can cause a drastic reduction in these figures. In addition, alcohol can result in abnormalities in sperm size, shape and the sperm tail. Sperm motility can also be affected negatively.” Excessive alcohol changes the normal oval head and a tail of the healthy sperm cell. This alter in sperm form can seriously compromise the capability of the spermatozoa. In addition, constant alcoholism harms the sperm morphology that often has permanent effects.
Researchers discovered a decline in sperm counts and semen quality among young men. According to Men’s sperm count declined (2008), “British research found that men born in the 1970s had 25 percent fewer sperm than those born in the 1950s.” Studies bear out the idea that alcohol does affect conception rate and sperm count. According to Baby Hopes web page, “Studies done on male rats who were administered an “intoxicating” dose of alcohol 24 hours before mating were found to have a 50% reduction in conception rates. In humans, alcohol has been shown to lower sperm count and cause temporary impotence in men.” However, too much alcohol can affect the superiority of sperm and it can reduce people’s sex drive, thus it reduces conception rates.
The next is effect of Smoking to men’s sexual organs. Cigarette smoke such as the other cancer mutants can causes changes to the DNA, causing cancers and infertility as well. Currently researchers have definitive connection between DNA changes at the sperm level. Throwing over smoking is one of the key ways that individual can recover his chances of conceiving a baby. Smoking strongly affects male fertility in more than a few ways. Smoking causes low sperm count and damages to the construction of sperm and it can lead to impotence. The sperm count of smokers can be below than non smokers. The recent study analyzed sperm samples of men who smoked more than one cigarette a day. According to Semen quality of male smokers (2003), researchers discovered the following changes:
Cigarette smoking was associated with a significant decrease in sperm density (−15.3%), total sperm count (−17.5%), total number of motile sperm (−16.6%), and citrate concentration (−22.4%). The percentage of normal forms was significantly reduced in smokers, and sperm vitality, ejaculate volume, and fructose concentration were slightly but nonsignificantly affected.
Manitoba consistently has one of the highest per capita rates of tobacco use in the country. The Environmental Tobacco Smoke (Manitoba) was informed:
Statistics from the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey show that 26 per cent of all Manitobans smoke, 28 per cent of all Manitobans aged 15-19 smoke, 37 per cent of those aged 20-24 smoke, and 30 per cent of all those aged 25-44 smoke (Health Canada, 2001). In the latest Statistics Canada report, youth smoking is down in Manitoba from 28 per cent in 2001 to 23 per cent in 2002. In 2002, Manitoba led the nation in the number of people quitting smoking with 45,000 Manitobans deciding to quit.
Smoking leads to the male infertility, researches on men smokers have shown a decline in the quality of semen. Some of the effects include:
Sperm motility refers to the swimming capabilities of the sperm. If sperm cannot swim properly, they may have trouble reaching the egg and fertilizing it. In men who smoke decrease in sperm motility. According to Semen Analysis (2009) smoking, “Causes a 23% decrease in sperm density (concentration) and 13% decrease in motility, causes an increased number of morphologically abnormal sperm and affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadtropin axis, most commonly affecting levels of estradiol and estrone. The Leydig Cells , which are in the testes and produce testosterone, may have secretory dysfunction.” In this way smoking causes toxicity to the seminal plasma and decreases sperm motility.
Sperm concentration refers to the number of sperm found in a measured quantity of semen. Studies have shown a 23% decrease in sperm concentration in men who smoke. So semen quality among fertile non smoker is significantly different than samples collected among smokers. According to The impact of cigarette (2003) cigarette smoking notably changes concentrations of the testosterone, and other hormones in men. The male with little testosterone concentrations has a lesser sperm count and sex drive than do persons with ordinary or high concentrations of the hormone.
Sperm morphology refers to the shape of sperm. Abnormal formed sperm may not go for a dip well enough to obtain to the egg and may not be capable to fertilize an egg. According to The Formula for Male Fertility (2010) The World Health Organization guidelines says, “a normal sperm count consists of 50 million sperm per ejaculate with 50 percent motility and 60 percent normal morphology”. Male smokers have fewer healthy shaped sperm than non-smokers. When smokers lower their exposure to cigarette’s toxic effect, abnormal morphology levels usually reduce.
The next is effect of Excessive heat to men’s sexual organs. Scrotum has to be hang down in the light wind and be a temperature cooler than the rest of body, because too heat is not excellent for sperm. Sperm count decreases whilst the temperature of testicles increases. Temperature of testicles can increase by using tight pants, undergarments, hot water showers, hot tub, extended laptop computer use, sauna etc. Avoiding these causes can aid to raise sperm count. There are numerous factors that are able to direct to a low sperm count, but one of the mainly avoidable is exposure to extreme heat.
One of the causes for male barrenness includes tight-fitting pants and underwear that warms the scrotum and testes, the tight pants keep the testicles too close to body. According to Testicle (2010), “The testes work best at temperatures slightly less than core body temperature.” So the temperature of the testicles is slightly lower than the rest of the body and testicles hang outside a man’s body for a reason – because sperm production is best when they are kept below normal body temperature. On condition male heated up the scrotum by wearing tight jeans or tight-fitting underwear they would obstruct with sperm production.
Other factors of excessive heat are saunas, hot tubs and heating blankets that affect to sperm count. According to Hot Tubs Risk Factor (2007), “Exposure to hot baths or hot tubs can lead to male infertility, but the effects can sometimes be reversible.” High water temperature through hot tubs, Jacuzzis or hot baths applies external heat to body and that is a well cause of impaired sperm construction, also impairing both sperm production and motility.
Some experts are advised that climate may have an influence on sperm counts and fertility and overheating in the hot climate can decreases sperm production inside the testicles. According to How Heat May Affect(2010) “semen specimens obtained in New Orleans during the summer had significantly lower sperm concentration, total sperm per ejaculate, percent motile sperm and motile sperm concentration than samples provided at other times of year,” Signifying that men may be more fertile during cooler months of the year and in cooler climates. Sperm counts are about thirty percent lower in summer.
Infertility can result from a state that is present at birth or can develop later. The other causes for infertility include the following : One of the causes is hypogonadism- functional incompetence of the gonads especially in the male with subnormal or impaired production of hormones and germ cells. The next is hypospadias- an abnormality of the penis in which the urethra opens on the underside. The cause of infertility also can be drugs, asthenozoospermia, malaria, azoospermia, trauma, prostatitis, acrosomal, complete lack of semen, hydrocele testis, oligospermia, teratospermia, mumps, oligozoospermia, unknown cause, varicocele, neoplasm, vas deferens obstruction, Impotence, emotional stress and STD and other kind of infection. Strenuous riding such as bicycle riding, horseback riding can be leads to this problem.The next cause can be retrograde ejaculation- occurs when semen, which would normally be ejaculated via the urethra, is redirected to the urinary bladder. Genetic disorders is the other reason such as Y chromosome microdeletion – a family of genetic disorders caused by missing gene(s) in the Y chromosome also Klinefelter’s syndrome- a condition in which males have an extra X sex chromosome. The last reason is cryptorchidism that means the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum.
The health system has issued the following general comments for prevention of this condition: Washing testicles with cold water after bath help to raise sperm count and sperm motility. Avoiding drugs and medications recognized to cause fertility problems. Hear also include drinking less alcohol to prevent infertility, wearing boxer shorts instead of briefs or tight-fitting underwear, making healthy lifestyle choices, wearing protection over the scrotum during athletic activities, avoiding frequent hot baths or use of hot tubs, drinking less coffee to prevent or cure infertility, avoiding smoking, wearing loose underwear and clothing, avoiding contact to environmental hazards, staying away from drugs, eating for health in common and also for sperm count difficulties such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The next is getting tested for STD’s and HIV or other kind of STD’s to prevent this problem or detect early signs of infections or abnormalities and getting on time treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Finally for prevention each individual has Keeping diseases, such as high blood pressure diabetes and hypothyroidism, under control.
The lifestyle habits may affect the chances of attaining pregnancy. Certain lifestyle habits may permanently damage male potency. Alcohol may result a rise in estrogen levels, which could obstructs sperm development and hormone levels. Alcohol is a toxin as well that may destroy off the sperm-producing cells in the testicle. High body temperature decreases sperm production. If males are struggling with male infertility, they have better take a close look at their lifestyle to observe if any factors could be causative to their unproductiveness.
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 Found in Wikipedia.org “Semen Analysis”
 A cell or an organism having half of the number of chromosomes in somatic cells.
 A micrometre or micron (symbol µm) is one millionth of a metre, or equivalently one thousandth of a millimetre or one thousand nanometres.
 Estrogens are a group of steroid compounds, named for their importance in the estrous cycle, and functioning as the primary female sex hormone.
 Gynecomastia is the development of abnormally large mammary glands in males resulting in breast enlargement.
 Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group. In mammals, testosterone is primarily secreted in the testes of males and the ovaries of females, although small amounts are also secreted by the adrenal glands.
 The mature sperm cell (spermatozoa) is 0.05 milliliters long. It consists of a head, body and tail. The head is covered by the ac cap and contains a nucleus of dense genetic material from the 23 chromosomes.
 The hypothalamic-pituitary axis is located at the base of the brain.
 Also known as interstitial cells of Leydig, are found adjacent to the seminiferous tubules in the testicle. They can secrete testosterone and are often closely related to nerves.
 A sperm count as measured in a hemocytometer; an indication of the health of the relevant testicles and a guide to the prospective fertility of the ejaculate and the donor.
 The medical term for reduced sperm motility
 Absence of spermatozoa from the seminal fluid
 An anterior prolongation of a spermatozoon that releases egg-penetrating enzymes
 The accumulation of fluids around a testicle
 Deficiency of sperm in the semen
 A condition characterized by the presence of sperm with abnormal morphology that affects fertility in males
 Few spermatozoa in semen
 A varicose enlargement of the veins of the spermatic cord producing a soft compressible tumor mass in the scrotum
 A new growth of tissue serving no physiological function
 A sperm-carrying duct