by Amos Grunebaum, M.D
New York, N.Y.
April 16, 2011
SHOOTING BLANKS: MALE SPERM COUNT DROPS 50%
NEW YORK -- When infertility strikes, it can be a massive source of stress for couples, and many are too quick to assume it's a female issue.
Alarmingly, the average sperm count for adult males has decreased by 50 percent since 1938 and is currently declining at a rate of 2 percent each year, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. Stress, exposure to environmental toxins and diets deficient in key vitamins and minerals are likely to blame.
It's a fact that one in six couples will have difficulty conceiving, but many aren't aware that almost half the time, it's the male who is the cause of the problem. As a fertility expert, I find that when couples address this issue, the woman is often the first to see a specialist to determine her fertility status.
It's a little more difficult to get the man on board with doing the same thing. Some men just don't want to acknowledge that they may have a fertility problem. As such, they are more reluctant to get tested and I have seen a lot of men delay seeing a specialist or even avoid it completely.
Unfortunately, I can confirm these disturbing statistics as I have seen sperm counts decline in my 25-plus years of practice.
From my experience, low sperm count is one of the primary reasons that couples have a difficult time conceiving. Quite simply, the fewer sperm a man produces, the lower the likelihood that one will successfully fertilize the egg.
However, there are a variety of ways men can help improve their reproductive health.
A diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E and Zinc can go a long way in improving sperm health. Exercising regularly plus limiting caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco intake can also help a great deal.
While low sperm count is known to be a major cause of infertility, for many men, visiting a doctor or clinic to have a sperm analysis done can be a daunting task.
The testing process itself can be a little embarrassing and even more so when faced with the prospect of exposing their condition to the doctor, nurse or office staff.
Fortunately, there is now a way to test for low sperm count in the privacy of one's own home. A new product from my client, Fairhaven Health, the SpermCheck Fertility Test, accurately confirms if a man has a normal count (20 million per milliliter). The test can be completed in a matter of minutes and retails for around $35.
Should the SpermCheck at-home test confirm a low count, it's generally a good indicator that he should see a specialist to help further diagnose the problem.
There are many benefits from determining early on if sperm count is a problem for you. The sooner an issue is pinpointed, the sooner proper treatment can be started.
Treatments for male infertility typically include lifestyle changes, vitamin, mineral or herbal supplementation, prescription medication, or even surgical procedures.
But before any of that can begin, the couple has to be able to communicate and agree to take action.
Dr. Grunebaum, a New York-based physician double-board certified in obstetrics/gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy), is recognized as one of New York's foremost Ob/Gyns and regularly included in Castle Connolly's "Top Doctors: New York."