How do I test my fertility? Now the majority of the patients that come to our practice have been trying to conceive 2 years or more.
They typically have had many different fertility tests, yet it remains all to common for us to see couples for whom so many things have not yet been tested. Due to lack of thorough investigation, we meet far to many couples who are struggling with “unexplained” and “infertility” diagnoses, despite many things having been left to chance.
Asking about testing is a great place to start.
One of the things that I always recommend is get a proper semen analysis done. By proper semen analysis, I suggest that they get it done by a fertility lab as opposed to just going to a general kind of pathology lab because a fertility lab has different ways of assessing sperm that is much higher and advanced in quality than your neighbourhood pathology lab. Typically, you’ll need a referral from a GP and you can get a referral to a specific fertility lab.
With the right semen analysis you will gain a proper understanding of healthy sperm:-
• motility, how well they swim
• morphology, how they are shaped
• DNA fragmentation or oxidative stress on the sperm
You also want to check for things like sperm antibodies because some men may develop antibodies to their own sperm, which negatively impacts the chances of natural conception. In some instances, men with sperm antibodies do need to use washed sperm and conceive via IUI. Sometimes, they may even need to have ICSI, which is intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which is essentially a form of IVF where they take one sperm and they put it into the egg.
For our patients in the practice, whenever we are testing, we test the basic bloods as well. Most fertility doctors will just do a sperm test and if the sperm are okay, they don’t continue to test anything else. However, while the sperm test results look great, men may still face difficulties with hormone balance, testicles and toxins that can further impact their fertility.
Blood tests will tell us whether there is testicular failure. You might be okay today, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be okay in 5 or in 10 years from now, and some of the best way to actually figure that out is going to be by doing your hormones—your FSH, your LH, your testosterone.
Now if the semen analysis is not okay, nutrient supplementation is going to be key, lifestyle factors, eating well, sleeping well, avoiding coffee, avoiding alcohol, definitely quitting smoking, any of the things that are going to negatively impact health will negatively impact sperm morphology and motility, as well as excessive heat.
- If you wear tight underpants, boxer shorts are going to be much better. Wear natural fabrics like cotton, silk or merino so testicles are able to breathe is going to help sperm health.
- If you sit on a chair all-day long, get up, walk around to reduce the amount of heat that’s on the testicles.
- Avoid heated car seats which can only negatively impact sperm. It will kill sperm, so concentration and count may also go down.
- Avoid carrying mobile phones in pockets, there are many scientific research studies that show mobile phones in pockets directly negatively impact fertility.
- Avoid overly hot baths, saunas, spas, anything that will increase heat to the testicles.
The testicles hang out of the body for a reason and are typically are about 1 degree Celsius lower in temperature than the rest of the body. Anything that’s going to increase that proximity of the testicles to the body and/or increase the heat of the testicles is going to damage the sperm. These are some tips to improve male fertility and to understand whether there is potential for further investigation and fertility treatment.
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