It has been estimated that in the UK 1 in 6 couples have difficulty conceiving and in at least half of these cases the fertility of the man may be responsible. Levine (2017) states that Sperm counts have more than halved over the past 40 years and whilst there is no proven association between sperm counts and fertility some link is considered likely.
Semen analysis is an important fertility test for couples who have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, and the test should be carried out before any treatments are prescribed. According to the World Health Organization’s 2010 guidelines the semen health factors typically evaluated in a semen analysis are based on percentiles, which are based on a group of men who fathered children in a year or less.
Make an appointment to see your GP if you have not managed to conceive after 1 year, your GP will then arrange for you to have a semen test which will then be analysed in a laboratory to check for the quantity and quality of sperm. If the results are abnormal then the test should be repeated in 3 months as it takes 3 months for sperm to fully mature.
|Parameter||Lower Reference Limits|
|Semen volume (ml)||1.5 (1.4 to 1.7)|
|Total sperm count (10^6)||39 (33 to 46)|
|Sperm concentration (10^6 / ml)||15 (12 to 16)|
|Total motility (percent)||40 (38 to 42)|
|Progressive motility (percent)||32 (31 to 34)|
|Vitality (percent)||58 (55 to 63)|
|Sperm morphology (percent)||4 (3 to 4)|
- Alcohol use – Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels, causing erectile dysfunction and a decrease in sperm production. therefore try to cut down or stop drinking alcohol.
- Illicit drug use – Anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. the use of other drugs such as cannabis and cocaine may also temporarily reduce the number and quality of sperm.
- Tobacco and smoking – smoking can damage sperm quality. Try to give up smoking and ask your GP or local pharmacy for support and help.
- Diet – Try to go organic if possible and avoid processed and foods containing sugar. Eat a diet high in protein and fruit and vegetables and consider taking a supplement containing zinc, selenium, and vitamins E, C and D B12 which will help to benefit sperm production.
- Heat- The testicles need to keep sperm at a healthy temperature which is typically 2.5 to 3 degrees Celsius lower than body temperature which is 37 degrees Celsius. Avoid wearing tight underwear as they can keep the testicles from being able to regulate their temperature. Also avoid things such as hot tubs, cycling, running and any other endurance exercise as this will also affect sperm quality.
- Emotional Stress – Stress can interfere with certain hormones which are needed to produce sperm and prolonged severe emotional stress including dealing with fertility problems can affect sperm count. Consider a a complementary therapy such as reflexology or massage to help with sperm production and look at other ways of reducing your stress levels such as Mindfulness. Gentle exercise such as walking or swimming is wonderful for emotional well being and general health.
- Pesticides and hormones in food – Pesticides and hormones added to diary and meat have a huge effect on men’s hormonal balance and the quality of sperm. If possible go organic and avoid processed foods. Soy foods may also mimic oestrogens within the body and cause hormonal imbalances so they are best avoided.
- Environmental toxins – This includes exposure to certain chemicals, pollutants and radiation from mobile phone masts . Avoid keeping your mobile phone in your pocket and do not place your laptop computer on your lap.
- Weight – Obesity can impact fertility in several ways, including directly impacting on sperm quality as well as causing hormonal changes that reduce male fertility. A healthy BMI is considered to be between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is classified as ‘overweight’ and over 30 as ‘obese’.
- Age – Male fertility starts to decline after 40.6 years and female fertility declines after 35 years.
Reflexology and Male Fertility
Reproreflexology is a specific form of reflexology which helps to reduce stress in the body and calm the hormonal system thus creating a positive environment for sperm production. The focus is to stimulate points on the feet, known as reflexes, that correspond or mirror your organs, tissues and systems (such as your nervous or reproductive system). The treatment is designed to bring about a shift, change or re balance in your energy and thus your well-being. It is a very relaxing and safe therapy.
It is advisable to have Reproreflexology for at least three months as it will take this length of time before you are likely to see any positive results in terms of sperm quality. It will also take this length of time before the effects of changes in lifestyle can be seen .