Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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Sperm killers? Infertility problems? Avoid laptops, hot tubs and more

  In the news over the weekend, on MSN, the article title read "10 proven sperm killers". Catchy title? Not so sure , but the information in the article is well researched and easy enough to read. Good to see it on the weekend news, in any case, as male infertilityproblems cause up to 40% of the reason that conception does not occur. (All text in italics is taken directly from the article.)

It turns out that hot tubs and overheating the testes is not a myth and can affect sperm production for months. If the temperature of the testicles is raised to 98˚, sperm production ceases, according to Hal Danzer, M.D., a Los Angeles fertility specialist. When production is interrupted, sperm can be negatively impacted for months.

The article goes on to talk about wet heat (as opposed to other types of heat) from a hot tub, specifically, will temporarily decrease sperm production. Dr. Shin counters that wet heat exposure can impact a man's sperm for a surprisingly long time. Because sperm takes so long to mature, "any interventions [to reduce exposure] will usually take at least three, if not six to nine, months to show any benefit," he says.

Evidently there is even more reason to avoid the flu as a high fever creates the same problems as a hot tub. The three questions that Dr. Wharton asks a patient; hot tubs, smoking marijuana and wearing bicycle pants. If no is the answer to those three questions, then Dr. Wharton (a San Francisco based OB/Gyn) wants to know about illnesses three months earlier. A high fever can have the same effect as wet heat on a man's sperm-with the same lasting effects. And depending on the timing in the sperm production process, sperm concentration can decrease by up to 35 percent following a fever, according to a 2003 study.

And, according to this article, it's official and real. Get the laptop off your lap. Put it on the desk, move it away from you. There can be a temperature rise of up to 35% in some positions, say researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. This increase has a well-documented harmful effect on spermatogenesis (the process of male gamete formation), so if you're trying to conceive, leave the laptop on the desk.

The article on MSN moves away from heat and goes on to address the issue of enlarged varicose veins in a man's scrotum, called varicoceles. There are two ways to repair a varicocele, either surgically or non-surgically with a technique called a percutaneous embolization. Even with a varicocele, it may come back to overheating. Doctors and researchers are not sure why a varicocele causes sperm production, nor are they sure that fertility improves after fixing the problem. Though there is little proof that fertility improves after varicocele embolization, some doctors believe the surgery may improve semen quality.

It seems to me that the jury is still clearly out on cell phone usage and sperm production. There is a small study done in 2008 that shows four plus hours a day caused "significantly lower sperm counts, motility rates, and morphology (normal shapes),"  Because this study and others have been so small, many doctors feel that they are not significant at this time.

The article goes on to talk about obesity. "Obesity has been associated with increased production of female hormones (estrogen), decreased sperm counts, sexual dysfunction, and infertility," says Daniel A. Potter, M.D., of the Huntington Reproductive Center in California.

Dr. Potter goes on to discuss so-called recreational drugs, such as marijuana, liquor and tobacco. "Tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana can impair sexual function," says Dr. Potter, who recommends that his patients limit or avoid all of these when trying to conceive.

Finally, there are physiological problems that can affect sperm and sperm production. Dr. Potter lists blockages, genetic disorders, anti-sperm antibodies, hormonal imbalance, testicular cancer, undescended testicles and even sexual problems.

This article gives men well identified and researched ways to enhance their sperm production, to enhance their overall reproductive health and to understand that what one does can affect their fertility for up to three months and even longer. All done without injections, medications or surgery. Overall, a great message, something most of us can live with.  

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