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VARICOCELE – What it is and how it affects male fertility

What are Varicoceles?

A varicocele is when veins become enlarged inside your scrotum (the pouch of skin that holds your testicles). It is like getting a varicose vein in your leg.  It might cause male infertility. Pooled blood in the enlarged veins affects the temperature in the scrotum to increase than normal, it affects the ability of the testes to produce sperm resulting in poor sperm health i.e decreased sperm count, decreased motility and poor morphology.

Most of the time, varicoceles cause no problems and are harmless. Less often varicoceles can cause pain, problems fathering a child/infertility, or one testicle to grow slower or shrink.


Most males with a varicocele have no symptoms. Varicoceles may be the cause of fertility problems in about 4 out of 10 men who have problems fathering their first child. They may also be the cause of fertility problems in about 8 out of 10 men who have problems fathering a child after their first.


Many causes of varicoceles have been offered. The valves in the veins may not work well (or may be missing). If blood flow is sluggish, blood may pool in the veins. Also, the larger veins moving from the testicles towards the heart are connected differently on the left and right side. So more pressure is needed on the left side to keep blood flowing through the veins towards the heart. If blood flows backwards or pools in the veins, that can cause them to swell.


Urologists often check for varicoceles with the patient standing. You may be asked to take a deep breath, hold it, and bear down while your urologist feels the scrotum above the testicle. This technique is known as the “Valsalva maneuver.” It lets your urologist find any enlarged veins.

Your urologist may order a scrotal ultrasound test. The ultrasound can also show the size of the testicles.


Often, varicoceles are not treated. Treatment is offered for males who have:

  • fertility problems (problems fathering a child)
  • pain
  • the left testicle growing more slowly than the right
  • Abnormal semen analysis

There are no drugs to treat or prevent varicoceles. But pain killers (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) may help with pain.

When needed, surgery is the main form of treatment. Embolization (briefly blocking the veins) is a non-surgical treatment option.


Varicocelectomy is a treatment option available to treat varicocele. It is a small microsurgical procedure in which all the swollen veins are tied off while preserving the normal blood vessels.  There are many urologist in Kenya who do these surgery.

Surgery Results

In many patients this can result in a dramatic increase in sperm counts and motility.

Most of the time, patients return to normal activities after 1 week with little pain.

This treatment should be thought about along with other fertility treatment choices.


more topics:

Heat and male fertility

Understanding male infertility


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Sperm are sensitive to high temperatures. Sperm cells tend to die when exposed to too much heat. Continuous exposure to higher temperatures can cause sperm production to be lower, or cause the production of abnormally shaped sperm cells resulting in male infertility. Testicles are located outside of the human body because the ideal temperature for sperm production, and thus for male fertility, is about three to four degrees below the ideal human body temperature.

Overheating can be due to reasons that are internal such as in the case of a high fever. It can be also due to factors that are environmental or physiological. Activities such as cooking, grilling, motorcycling, sauna, and cycling can cause heat production. Using laptops and cellphones for long durations can also result in overheating. Physiological factors include Varicocele (enlargement of the veins within the loose bag of skin that holds your testicles), late descended testicles and obesity.

To promote male fertility and healthy sperm, avoid these 5 hot situations;

  1. Avoid spending prolonged periods of time in hot tubs and/or Jacuzzis.

Sitting and soaking in hot water will raise the body temperature, which can have a negative effect on male fertility.

  1. Don’t wear tight-fitting pants or underwear.

When you wear tight jeans, pants or briefs, you’re putting your scrotum in a tight environment that can trap heat in the testicles, and especially during the hot months when you may already be overheated. Wear boxers or loose pants made from natural fiber like cotton.

  1. Do not sit for long periods of time without getting up.

Sitting, whether for work, for long driving trips, or just to watch television, can also trap heat around the scrotum, which is not beneficial for male fertility. Take breaks to stand and walk around.

  1. Avoid prolonged bike rides, especially in the heat.

Tight biking shorts, combined with long periods of sitting on a bike seat, may cause friction and pressure on the testicles. This can cause the testicles to become overheated, too. Men should wear loose shorts and take shorter bike rides or take breaks during longer rides.

  1. Don’t put a laptop computer directly on your lap for long periods of time.

The battery on laptop computers can produce quite a bit of heat. It’s best to place your laptop on a desk or table instead of on your lap.




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Dealing With the Emotional Stress of Male Infertility

When infertility is discussed, the conversation generally focuses on female reproductive issues. However, male factor infertility is a contributing factor in approximately 50% of couples who are struggling to conceive in Kenya.

Even though men are just as likely as women to feel a deep sense of sorrow or anxiety, they are left to deal with these emotions on their own. Partly because most of the discussion about the emotional experience of infertility is focused on the woman. The man also is left to quietly deal with this struggle on his own given the African culture that requires him to be “tough”.

While it is without question a difficult thing for a man to accept the diagnosis of Male infertility, there are some few things that could help in coping better and also improving his fertility.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

The first step in coping with the stress of male infertility is to simply acknowledge what you’re feeling and to give yourself space to feel those emotions. Be open with your partner and communicate what you’re feeling. It can also be helpful to talk to a third party, such as a fertility doctor, a friend, a counselor, a support group, or a pastor. Keeping something so stressful a secret can eat away at you, but opening up and sharing what you’re going through can help lighten the load.

Take Control

Once you have given yourself some time to process what you’re going through emotionally, you can start taking control of the situation. Some things you can do include:

  • Making an appointment with a fertility specialist.
  • Getting a second opinion
  • Researching as much as you can about fertility
  • Preparing questions for your doctor

At the same time, talk to your partner about what this means for the long term. Research the various fertility treatment options that are available and discuss which ones may be the best for your situation. Also, talk about these treatment options in terms of what you can handle emotionally and financially.

Focus On Your Physical Health

Taking control of your physical health will help improve your overall physical and mental health which will not only help you cope better with the situation but it could also improve your fertility especially if your challenge is poor sperm quality.

Some ideas for taking control of your physical health include:

  • Eating a healthy diet consisting of vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and limited processed foods
  • Being physically active/exercising
  • Avoiding cigarettes, excessive drinking, and drugs
  • Achieving or maintaining a healthy BMI
  • Supplementing your diet with dietary supplements designed to improve your overall health and fertility.

All of these and more can help improve your sperm quality while also helping you cope with any emotional stress that you are feeling.

We would love to hear from you. How are you coping with male infertility? Talk to us on you can also reach us on 0759205704.



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A quick online search for male infertility information can lead you down a rabbit hole of myths and misconceptions. These common fertility Myths will leave many couples who are trying to conceive confused about what’s factual and what is not.

Here are some of the most common myths.

MYTH #1: Fertility, or infertility, is a woman’s problem

FACT: Contrary to popular belief, infertility is not a woman’s issue, nor is it the man’s fault. Infertility impacts men and women equally.  An analytical study at the Kenyatta National Hospital found that the prevalence of male infertility in Kenya has increased.

MYTH #2: Age is not an issue for men when trying to conceive.

FACT: Age is an important determinant for both women and men. As age increases, fertility begins to decrease and health risks need to be considered.

Even by the time they turn 45, men will usually find it takes longer for their partners to become pregnant. There’s also a higher risk of miscarriage when the man is older. Lower semen volume, changes to sperm movement, and a lower number of properly working sperm all become more common as you age.

MYTH #3: It’s only the woman’s health that matters when it comes to getting pregnant.

FACT: There are a number of things that can harm the production of sperm, including:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Heat stress from tight-fitting underwear
  • Steroid misuse
  • Coming into contact/exposure to harmful chemicals.

Most people don’t know that it takes around three months for new sperm to fully develop. Because the majority of male fertility problems are due to issues around sperm production, it’s important to work on improving your health for at least three months before you start trying. By cutting down on, or reducing your exposure to, harmful factors, you can help your body to produce more and better sperm.

MYTH 4#: Nothing can be done to improve sperm quality

FACT: While natural methods may show slight changes in sperm quality, hormonal therapy or surgery has shown to increase testosterone in many cases which can lead to improved semen quality measures such as sperm count, shape or movement.

Dietary supplements such as Fertilaid For Men, Countboost and Motilityboost are also great natural options to improve sperm health and quality.

The bottom line is – male infertility is treatable!

Often, the hardest part for men struggling with reproductive or sexual problems is to walk through the door, sit down and start a conversation to discuss these sensitive issues.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, couples struggling to conceive  can achieve their goal of starting a family


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With so many other alternative options for couples trying to conceive, why is dietary supplements a better alternative?

Is there a miracle route to becoming a parent? Certainly not! Just like there is no magic pill for weight loss, or cancer prevention, or diabetes management, there is no miracle route to pregnancy for couples struggling with infertility issues. There is, however, a logical path, which includes weighing the costs, benefits, and side effects of all of the possible options.

Fortunately for couples struggling to conceive in Kenya, there are now possible options thanks to advancement in modern medicine. Some of these options include; IVF (in vitro fertilization), ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), and IUI (intrauterine insemination). Each of these technologies carries a significant price tag, my one cycle of IVF in 2016 cost Kshs.396,000/-. The 2nd cycle would have cost Kshs.350,000/- (I did not attempt the 2nd cycle). Unfortunately, despite their high costs, hundreds of thousands of shillings, these invasive procedures which are most often accompanied by significant and unpleasant side effects, come with no guarantee.

For just Kshs.4,800/- a month, FertilAid for Men provides a comprehensive multivitamin tailored to trying-to-conceive men, and includes extra amounts of key antioxidant nutrients that have been demonstrated to safely and effectively benefit overall sperm health. For just Kshs.4,200/- a month, FertilAid for Women provides a full prenatal vitamin and a blend of herbs that promote hormonal balance and cycle regularity in women. Simple mathematics if you ask me.

Of course, not all people who take FertilAid get pregnant. There are those who take FertilAid faithfully, exactly as directed, who do not achieve pregnancy. But there are many other people who take FertilAid and do successfully achieve pregnancy – some in dramatic fashion after trying unsuccessfully for extended periods of time, case in point ME.  And, somewhere in the middle are many others that experience benefit from FertilAid, measured for women by changes in their cycle and for men by increases in sperm quality.

You can view/purchase the different products we have to address different fertility issues here.

You can also reach us on 0759205704 for any inquiries or to place an order.

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Sperm health is the leading cause of male infertility. But what is the definition of healthy sperm?

Semen quality parameters according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

Semen analysis is the basic routine tool that provides information about the male reproductive potential, and is very useful when determining the treatment option for the couple struggling to conceive. The World Health Organization (WHO) has published successive editions of the “Manual for the examination and processing of human semen”.  This manual serves as a guide in andrology laboratories, standardizing the method of assessing semen quality.



There are several parameters to take into account in a semen analysis, which can be divided into those that can be evaluated with the naked eye (macroscopic examination) and those that cannot be evaluated with the naked eye (microscopic examination).

Below, we show the requirements that a semen sample must meet in order to be catalogued as normal (Normozoospermia):

MACROSCOPICS FACTORS – (Those that can be evaluated with the naked eye)


After ejaculation, semen is in a coagulated state and needs to be liquefied in order to be studied. A semen sample liquefies completely in approximately 15-20 minutes at room temperature. If complete liquefaction does not occur within 60 minutes, the semen sample can be subjected to mechanical liquefaction in order to analyze the rest of the parameters.


It refers to the fluidity of the entire sample, which can be normal or high. The methods to reduce viscosity are the same as those for liquefaction. If the sample presents high viscosity levels it may be due to a prostatic dysfunction.


The normal volume of an ejaculate, after 3 to 5 days of sexual abstinence, is in the range of 1.5 to 6 mL. A lower volume is called Hypospermia, while a higher volume is called Hyperspermia. The absence of semen with ejaculation is known as Aspermia.


The usual colour of semen is opalescent white, slightly yellowish. In cases where the colour is altered, it is advisable to study the possible causes. An example of alteration would be the presence of red blood cells in the semen sample (Hematospermia).


This value must be over 7.1. Lower values and a low sperm concentration could indicate efferent vessel dysgenesis, i.e. a blockage of the ejaculatory ducts.

Concentration (Count)

The normal value is 15 million spermatozoa per milliliter of ejaculated volume or 39 million in the entire sample. If these values are not reached we would be talking of Oligozoospermia and, in the most severe cases, of Cryptozoospermia (<100,000 spermatozoa/mL).

Motility (swimming ability)

The percentage of motile and progressive (spermatozoa moving actively) sperm are assessed. Progressively motile spermatozoa must exceed 32%; otherwise, it is called Asthenozoospermia.


The percentage of live spermatozoa must exceed 58%. If it were lower, we would be talking about necrozoospermia.


If the concentration of leukocytes is greater than 1 million per mL of sample (leukospermia) it may indicate a genitourinary infection.


In a normal semen analysis, there should be equal to or more than 4% of normal spermatozoa. If the value is below this range, this is known as Teratozoospermia.

Anti-sperm antibodies or MAR test

It indicates the amount of spermatozoa attached to other cells or particles. When more than 50% of spermatozoa are bound to, it may reflect an immune problem.

You can view the supplements we have that help with improving sperm health here.

Bibliographical references

  • World Health Organization. “WHO Laboratory Manual for the examination and processing of human semen” Cambridge: Cambridge University. fifth Edition (2010).


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What is a Semen Analysis (SA) Exactly?

Unfortunately, when trying to get pregnant many couples encounter difficulties and visiting a fertility specialist becomes necessary. This is not just for the ladies…men may be asked to have a semen analysis done as inadequate sperm count, motility, and/or morphology affects more than 30% of couples facing infertility. A semen analysis measures the amount and quality of semen in the sample to determine if there is infertility issue.

The preparation for a semen analysis is actually quite simple. He may be asked to abstain from any sexual activity 2-4 days before the analysis. It is also recommend to not avoid sexual activity for the 1-2 weeks before the analysis, because sexual inactivity can hinder the results. At the appointment, he is asked to masturbate into a clean, wide mouthed bottle. This bottle is then delivered to the laboratory for testing. Men that are concerned with the process of masturbating in the doctor’s office should ask for alternate ways to provide the sample.

Approximately 30 minutes after the sample is taken (allowing the semen to liquefy), multiple tests are performed:

Semen Volume: 2-6 ml is a normal volume of ejaculate in a healthy man. An especially high or low volume can signify an issue that may need to be investigated.

Semen Viscosity: Semen should liquefy in about 30 minutes. If it doesn’t liquefy, this likely indicates an infection of the seminal vesicles and prostate.

Semen pH: The alkaline pH protects the sperm from the acidity of vaginal fluids.

Presence of fructose: Fructose provides energy for sperm motility – an absence of fructose may indicate a block in the mail reproductive tract.

Sperm Count: Sperm count is measured by an examination under the microscope. If the sample is less than 20 million per sperm per ml, this is considered low sperm count.

Sperm Motility: Sperm motility is the ability of the sperm to move. For fertility purposes, it’s important to remember that only the sperm that move forward fast are able to fertilize the egg. Motility is graded from A to D;

A – sperm swim forward fast in a straight line

B – sperm swim forward, but in a curved or crooked line, or slowly

C – sperm move their tails, but do not move forward

D – sperm do not move at all

Grade C and D are of concern when testing for fertility.

Sperm Morphology: Sperm should have a regular oval head, with a connecting mid-piece and a long straight tail. Abnormal sperm is distorted in shape (round heads, large heads, double heads, absent tails, etc). A normal sample should have at least 15% with normal form.

Sperm Clumping: Sperm clumping (or agglutination) means sperm stick together. This impairs motility.

Pus Cells: Some white blood cells in the semen is normal – however, many pus cells suggest the presence of an infection.

For couples that are trying-to-conceive, if the semen analysis is abnormal, it will likely be repeated 3-4 times over a period of a couple months. This will help to confirm if there is indeed an abnormality present. If so, you can then work to treat that specific issue.

There also are herbal supplements available on the market to help address issues with sperm count, motility, and morphology. FertilAid for Men works to promote the healthy production of sperm and has been shown to have a positive effect on all three of those parameters. For men diagnosed with low sperm count (under 20 million per ml), CountBoost can be taken in conjunction with FertilAid for Men to specifically address a low sperm count. For men diagnosed with low motility (grade c or d), MotilityBoost can be taken in conjunction with FertilAid for Men to specifically address poor motility.

Source: Fairhaven Health

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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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 MenCountBoost for Men and MotilityBoost for Men.