What is infertility?
This is when a couple is unable to conceive after having frequent and unprotected sex for a year. Half the time, the cause for a couple’s difficulty in conceiving will be the male factor. Sperm health is the biggest cause of male fertility issues.
Sperm health is not only important for conceiving, it also plays a role in the health of the overall pregnancy and possibly the baby too.
So how do we measure sperm health?
- Sperm count: refers to the number of sperm cells present in a milliliter of semen. Anything below 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen is considered to be a “low” sperm count, also called oligospermia. Severe oligospermia is typically defined as a sperm count less than 5 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Azoospermia is defined as the complete absence of sperm in ejaculate.
- Sperm motility is defined as the forward, swimming motion of sperm. In order for a sperm to reach the egg after ovulation fertilization, it must travel quickly through the female reproductive system, which requires a strong swimming action. “Normal” sperm motility is typically defined as 50% of observed sperm, or at least 8 million sperm per milliliter of semen, showing good forward movement. When sperm motility is suboptimal, fewer sperm are able to reach the egg, making conception less likely to occur. Poor sperm motility is called asthenozoospermia.
- Sperm morphology refers to the size and shape of sperm. Abnormally shaped sperm may have difficulty fusing with the egg, thereby decreasing the chances of successful fertilization.
Low sperm count can be caused by testicular failure, hormone deficiencies or imbalances, varicocele (an abnormal enlargement of the veins in the scrotum) and/or a blockage in the duct system that carries sperm.
Another key contributor to poor sperm health is oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a physiological condition that develops when the number of reactive oxygen species (frequently referred to “free radicals”) produced or present in the body overwhelm the “antioxidant” mechanisms the body utilizes to neutralize these unstable compounds. Because our modern lifestyle (stress, poor diet, exposure to environmental toxins) sets the stage for lots of free radical production, sperm cells often live in a continual state of oxidative stress – leading to reduced sperm count, poor sperm motility, and even DNA damage. Some researchers now believe that up to 80% of all cases of male infertility can be attributed to oxidative stress.
Improving sperm health
There is however wonderful news for those of you suffering from less than optimal sperm health! Supplementing your diet with key antioxidant nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, and quercetin, can improve your sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology. If you are looking for a way to ensure you get the antioxidant support you need to maximize your sperm health, check out the following Fairhaven Health products: FertilAid for Men, CountBoost for Men and MotilityBoost for Men.