You may have heard that sperm counts have been declining in Westernised countries over the past several decades. A recent analysis has suggested that between 1973 and 2011, sperm counts of men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand (not selected for their involvement in fertility treatment) have declined 50-60%. (1)
The study authors suggest that there are several reasons why this is an important issue:
- Low sperm counts can have a large impact on male fertility
- Male fertility issues represent a social and economic burden which is large, and increasing
- Low sperm counts may be correlated with long-term general health problems
- Low sperm count may also be associated with disorders in the male urogenital system
- It is possible that the decline in sperm count and other measures is associated with environmental factors such as chemicals and pesticides as well as lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, smoking and BMI
The authors suggest that sperm counts may illustrate the impacts of stressors in industrialised countries on male health, throughout the lifespan.
So are there steps that men can take to improve their individual health situation?
Research looking at issues such as lifestyle factors and male fertility can refer to various outcomes, such as sperm test results, pregnancy rates or birth rates. In these studies, there is sometimes a link between sperm test results and pregnancy outcomes, but other times the link is less clear. Some studies may only look at one outcome. This can make it difficult to draw clear links between how different interventions or risk factors might be related to sperm test results and/or live births. (2)
Your fertility specialist will normally ask you to take a sperm test. There are certain readings that will clearly indicate where assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF are indicated.
Whether or not your test results are showing a clear indication of a problem, it can be difficult to know whether there are steps you can take, as the male partner, to improve your health in this area.
We can talk you through the information that has been studied, and let you know how that may apply to your unique situation. We can put this information into the context of the Chinese medicine view, offering some different ways of looking at your situation. Chinese medicine looks at the whole person, which means that many facets of health and symptoms are taken into account to create a dynamic, interconnected picture.
We can help you to understand how the existing research may apply to you, how Chinese medicine information may further inform your choices, and work with you to create a plan of action to improve your health.
Your next step
Phone 02 9938 2182 with any enquiries.
(1) Levine H, Jørgensen N, Martino-Andrade A, et al. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Human Reproduction Update. 2017;23(6):646-659. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmx022
(2) 1. Ricci E, Viganò P, Cipriani S, et al. Coffee and caffeine intake and male infertility: a systematic review. Nutr J. 2017;16. doi:10.1186/s12937-017-0257-2