Male Fertility Issues

Lee Bladon 11:28 am

Male Fertility Issues

And how to improve sperm quality

The Most Important Information First!

Male fertility issues are solely responsible for 30% of all infertility cases, and share the responsibility in a further 20% of all cases. So, male fertility issues contribute to about 50% of all infertility cases, yet this isn’t always apparent, primarily due to the limitations of standard sperm tests (or semen analysis).

Standard NHS sperm tests, and even the more detailed private tests, only check the external qualities of the sperm, like count, morphology and motility. While these factors are the most common causes of male fertility issues, they aren’t the only ones. The quality of the DNA inside the sperm is a factor in 20-40% of cases of male infertility, but sperm DNA quality (DNA fragmentation) isn’t measured in an NHS or private semen analysis. So, semen analysis can make it appear that everything is fine with the man and his sperm, when that isn’t necessarily the case.

Sperm DNA fragmentation doesn’t just adversely affect natural conception, it also reduces the success rates of IVF and ICSI, and is associated with early miscarriage and birth defects. The most common cause of sperm DNA fragmentation is oxidative stress, which affects 30-80% of infertile men. Sperm oxidative stress isn’t included in a standard sperm test either.

Two Ways Forward

As previously stated, approximately 50% of all infertility relates to the man, yet almost all fertility treatments are focused on the woman, and over 90% of holistic fertility therapies are booked by women. Assuming the woman is responsible for a couple’s infertility because the man’s semen analysis is OK could be a stressful and costly false assumption. You could expend lots of time, money and energy on expensive and invasive medical procedures that may not be necessary or even work. Or you might decide to invest in holistic healing for the woman, when it’s the man who could benefit the most?

If you are in this situation, or have been diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”, you have two options:

Proxceed Men is probably the best supplement to improve male fertility. It is clinically proven to improve sperm quality, including sperm count, concentration, motility, and reduces DNA fragmentation.  Due to the time it takes for sperm cells to grow and mature (about 75 days) the supplement needs to be taken for at least 3 months to reap the benefits. Links to several clinical studies have been provided for those who are interested.

Antioxidant supplements, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Omega 3, ALA and NAC can also reduce oxidative stress, which is the primary cause of sperm DNA fragmentation. Please refer to our Fertility Supplements page for further information.

Male Fertility Issues

Male infertility is a growing public health concern, and the following are contributing factors:

  • Sperm Count: Experts have observed a 50% decline in male sperm counts over several decades. A 2023 Swiss study stated that the average sperm concentration was once about 99 million sperm per ml, but has now fallen to 47 million. When the concentration drops below 40 million, it reduces the likelihood of successful conception.
  • Sperm Morphology: Abnormal sperm morphology is very common in men with fertility issues. It is commonly observed in 30% to 70% of men undergoing fertility assessments. Sperm morphology is definitely in major decline, because in 1999 the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined normal sperm morphology as 14%, but now they define it as 4%. That means 96% of your sperm can have physical defects, yet it is still classed as “normal”. Environmental toxins, poor diet and lifestyle are undoubtedly to blame.
  • Sperm Motility: Reduced sperm motility is a common contributor to male infertility. Depending on the population studied, the prevalence of reduced sperm motility among infertile men can range from 30% to 80%.
  • DNA Fragmentation: DNA is what makes us who we are. Sperm DNA carries a copy of the genes that a man passes on to his baby. Sperm DNA can be damaged when sperm are being made, resulting in some of the DNA strands fragmenting or snapping. High levels of sperm DNA fragmentation negatively impact fertility, and increase the risk of miscarriage and impaired embryo development. The incidence of high DNA fragmentation is typically 20-40% in men undergoing fertility assessments.
  • Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress can damage the cellular structures in sperm, including lipids, proteins and DNA, which can impair sperm motility, morphology and DNA integrity. Studies report oxidative stress in 30-80% of infertile men. Oxidative stress doesn’t just affect natural fertility; it also reduces the success rates in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Studies have shown that antioxidant supplements, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, Omega 3, ALA and NAC, can decrease oxidative stress and sperm DNA damage, and improve the chances of conception.
  • Varicocele: Varicocele (Va-ricko-seal) is a collection of enlarged veins in the scrotum, normally of the left testicle. It is a common and treatable cause of male infertility that is associated with oxidative stress. It is present in approximately 15% of the general male population, and in a higher percentage in men with fertility issues. Varicocele repair reduces oxidative stress and DNA damage, and increases pregnancy rates.
  • Hormone Imbalances can impact male fertility, with hypogonadism (low testosterone) affecting 2-6% of men, and hyperprolactinemia (high prolactin) affecting less than 1% of men.
  • Testosterone Injections: You might assume that taking testosterone would improve male fertility, but the opposite is true. Testosterone supplementation has the same effect on male fertility as hormone supplementation (otherwise known as birth control pills) has on female fertility. In short, testosterone injections have a negative impact on male fertility, and you will likely have fertility issues while taking them, and for a few months afterward, while your body adjusts to find its natural balance again.
  • Undescended Testicles are a common occurrence that affects 1 in 25 boys at birth. In most cases they descend naturally within 6 months, but 1 in 100 boys require an operation. The condition can result in fertility issues, especially if the operation is not conducted in the first year.
  • Infections, such as Prostatitis, Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea. They can be asymptomatic, so you may not even know you have them.
  • Structural Issues, such as the vas deferens (sperm tubes) being blocked, damaged or missing. A common cause is restricted tube and/or blood flow from regular or long-distance cycling.
  • Hot Testicles due to hot baths, saunas, steam-rooms, long workouts, endurance running, tight-fitting synthetic underwear, and using a laptop computer on your lap.
  • Genetic Factors such as Klinefelter syndrome, Y chromosome microdeletions, CTFR gene mutations and androgen receptor gene mutations.
  • COVID Infection: Studies have shown that COVID-19 is associated with decreased level of Testosterone and increased levels of Luteinising Hormone and Prolactin, all of which can adversely affect male fertility.

Male infertility is often multifactorial, which means it may involve a number of different factors. If a couple is facing fertility challenges (particularly unexplained infertility), lab tests such as Semen Analysis, Sperm Oxidative Stress and Sperm DNA Fragmentation can provide insights into the specific factors contributing to male infertility.

Semen Analysis vs Sperm DNA Testing

Making healthy sperm is complicated and things can go wrong along the way. If you are thinking about starting a family, have been trying for a while, or have experienced miscarriage, it makes sense to have some tests to check the health of your sperm.

Semen Analysis: Most men start with a semen analysis, which can be arranged through your GP, if you have been trying to conceive for a year or more.

Sperm Quality Parameters

Semen analysis is usually the first step men take when looking into their fertility, but it has limited diagnostic value for male infertility. This is evident from the fact that 25-30% of couples are diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”, where no cause can be detected in the man or the woman. Semen analysis provides important information about the external health of the sperm, but says nothing about the internal health (DNA quality) of the sperm, and that’s often where the problem lies, especially in cases of unexplained infertility, recurrent IVF or ICSI failure, or recurrent miscarriages.

Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test: This £400 test, available from X&Y Fertility in Leicester, provides the following insights:

  • Whether the sperm are healthy enough to reach the egg.
  • The likelihood of the sperm being able to fertilise the egg.
  • Whether fertilisation is likely to result in a full-term pregnancy.

A sperm DNA fragmentation test is a reliable predictor of male infertility, assisted reproductive technology failure (e.g. IVF & ICSI) and miscarriage. When sperm DNA damage is low (<25%) there is a 33% chance of a live birth, when sperm DNA damage is moderate (25-50%) the chances of a live birth fall to 24%, and when sperm DNA damage is high (>50%) there is only a 13% chance of a live birth. This data, from an IVF study, not only shows that DNA fragmentation is a major factor in miscarriages, but how ineffective IVF is at the best of times, with only a 1 in 3 chance of success, i.e. a live birth. So, a sperm DNA fragmentation test should be considered if you have unexplained infertility, poor semen analysis results, or are considering IVF or ICSI.

Oxidative Stress Test: Sperm produce small amounts of oxygen free-radicals (oxidants) that are required for their normal function. If oxidant production and antioxidant activity become unbalanced, oxidative stress will cause sperm damage and fertility issues. 25-40% of infertile men have high oxidant levels and low antioxidant activity. A sperm oxidative stress test should be considered in cases of unexplained infertility, poor semen analysis results, recurrent IVF or ICSI failures, recurrent miscarriages or varicocele. The test, which costs about £100, is available from X&Y Fertility in Leicester.

Understanding your sperm DNA fragmentation and oxidative stress test result may motivate you to make the lifestyle choices that could improve your sperm quality and fertility.

How to Improve Male Fertility

Sperm are vulnerable to attack from oxidative stress, toxins and various other factors that can affect sperm count, morphology, motility and DNA quality. Age, being overweight, alcohol, drugs (marijuana and cocaine), testosterone imbalance, electromagnetic radiation (from mobile phones and WiFi), testicular temperature, testicular blood-flow, toxins (pesticides, heavy metals and endocrine disruptors), and certain drugs (bicalutamide, cimetidine, cyproterone, flutamide, ketoconazole and spironolactone) can all have harmful effects on sperm quantity and quality. Not much can be done about age, but the other factors can all be addressed to increase sperm quality and fertility.

Moderating alcohol consumption, stopping smoking or vaping, exercising regularly and eating healthily are all commonly known ways of improving fertility. But the chances are, you have already tried them, and they haven’t worked for you, so you’re looking for some more effective things to try. If you haven’t done so already, please read the following pages on this website:

  • Fertility Nutrition – particularly the section on Regular vs Organic Produce, because pesticide residues are a significant factor in fertility issues, and the section on Inflammatory foods, because they also affect reproductive health.
  • Fertility Supplements – Nutritional supplements are widely used to improve fertility and conception rates, but it can be difficult to know what to take. If you are only going to take one supplement, Proxceed Men is clinically proven to improve sperm quality, including sperm count, concentration, motility and reduces DNA fragmentation.
  • Toxin Reduction – Endocrine disruptors are probably the worst toxin for male fertility because they mimic female hormones, which counteract your male hormones. The most important changes you can make are to stop wearing aftershave, switch to a natural deodorant, invest in a water filter, and stop drinking from plastic bottles, paper cups and cans (because they are lined with plastic).
  • Fertility Lifestyle – particularly the section on Electromagnetic Radiation which explains why men shouldn’t keep their mobile phones in their front trouser pockets for long periods of time, or use laptop computers on their laps.

Finally, mature sperm can survive in the epididymis (tubes in the testicles) for weeks, but their quality may deteriorate over time, so men should ejaculate twice a week to keep them “fresh”. When it’s time to try to conceive (around ovulation), having sex every 2 days is optimal. 

Energy Healing to Improve Male Fertility

Male fertility is a complex interplay of factors, with sperm morphology (shape), motility (movement) and DNA quality all play crucial roles in determining fertility. Often overlooked, the energetic aspect of fertility can have a significant effect on these factors by promoting healing and restoring balance to improve male reproductive health.

  • Clearing Energetic Blockages: Energetic blockages can disrupt the natural flow of energy within the body, affecting various physiological processes, including those related to fertility. Our Energy Healing sessions are designed to identify and clear these blockages, allowing the vital life force energy to flow freely.
  • Increasing Energy & Blood Flow: Energy Healing can help improve the overall energy and blood flow in the body, including to the genital area. Enhanced blood flow to the genitals can have a positive impact on sperm production and overall reproductive health.
  • Sperm Morphology & Motility: Sperm morphology and motility are critical factors in male fertility. Energy healing can contribute to the improvement of these aspects by promoting overall well-being and reducing stress, which is known to affect sperm quality.
  • Sperm DNA Quality: The quality of sperm DNA is a key determinant of fertility. Energy Healing, by reducing stress and promoting a state of relaxation, can help maintain the integrity of sperm DNA. This may lead to an increased likelihood of healthy conception.

It’s important to understand that while Energy Healing is a valuable complementary therapy, it doesn’t guarantee instant or miraculous results, but it can help to create conditions that are more conducive for conception. If you’re ready to explore the potential benefits of Energy Healing for male fertility, we invite you to complete our application form. Our experienced practitioners will work with you in a practical, down-to-earth manner to address any energetic imbalances and support your journey towards improved fertility.

Reflexology to Improve Male Fertility

Reflexology is an effective complementary therapy that can support male fertility in a number of ways, including:

  • Balances Hormones: Stimulating certain reflex points can help to balance hormones in the body. Hormonal imbalance plays a big role in fertility issues in men. Reflexology can help to regulate the reproductive hormones.
  • Increases Sperm Quality & Quantity: Reflexology can benefit men by enhancing sperm quality and quantity.
  • Improves Blood Flow: By relaxing the muscles in the pelvic region, reflexology can reduce tension and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, which can benefit fertility.
  • Optimises Body Systems: This therapy encourages all body systems to function optimally, which is essential for a successful conception.
  • Reduces Stress: Reflexology is known for its stress-reducing effects. High stress levels can negatively impact fertility in men. By promoting relaxation and reducing stress, reflexology can indirectly support fertility by creating a more conducive emotional and hormonal environment for conception.
  • Enhances Wellbeing: Reflexology promotes physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. A healthy body and mind are essential for fertility, and reflexology contributes to a sense of balance and wellbeing.

    Counselling for Male Fertility Issues

    When a man is diagnosed with male factor infertility, he often feels responsible for the couple’s infertility, especially if the condition relates to poor lifestyle choices or an injury that could have been avoided. Feelings of inadequacy are common because many men equate their manliness with fully functioning genitals and their ability to father a child. The anxiety and stress caused by male infertility can adversely affect testosterone levels and sperm production, and can result in depression, low libido, erectile dysfunction and relationship issues.

    If you (or your partner) are experiencing feelings of depression, guilt, shame or any psychological challenges as a consequence of fertility issues, please consider Fertility Counselling. Whether it’s poor sperm test results, male factor infertility, difficulties conceiving, recurrent IVF/ICSI failures, or recurrent miscarriages, we can help. Lee, our fertility counsellor, has first-hand experience of male factor infertility so can help you to work through your negative thoughts and deficient feelings.

    Stay Informed


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