Guest blog by Whitley Dahl, founder of Walking the Lonely Path.
Male Infertility. This is always a tough pill to swallow. Let’s be honest though…what isn’t when dealing with fertility?
I remember being shocked when I realized infertility isn’t just about a woman’s egg and her Uterus. A man’s sperm also play a big part in conceiving a child. Go figure, right?! Sometimes I think about how amazing it is that so many babies are born. There are so many things about the human body that affect (and possibly get in the way of) conception. A baby is truly a miracle.
I have heard countless stories of a couple struggling to get pregnant. The woman has had every test under the sun done, but the man has not been tested. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one third of the cases of infertility is attributed to male infertility. This is a big percentage. If you learn nothing else from this post, please make sure your male partner has been tested or will be tested soon.
Let’s put it out there. It’s awkward and I don’t know that any man would enjoy being “tested”, but feel free to remind him that you have the more challenging part in all of this…what carrying the child for 9 months and all. But it’s not a contest! HAHA!
Just like the amount of chocolate chips in a cookie counts, so does the amount of sperm a man has in an ejaculation. The saying “the more the merrier” applies here. The more sperm swimming around, the greater your chances of a successful fertilization.
When you begin fertility treatment, it is very common to have your partner’s sperm tested. The normal sperm count in a single ejaculation is anywhere from 30-200 million. Anything under 30 is considered a “low sperm count” and anything over 200 is AMAZING.
It’s not very common, but unfortunately some men don’t produce any sperm at all. This is called Azoospermia. There are many reasons for this, but we are not going to get into this now.
So, what can I do to help my partner’s sperm count? Good question.
- Antibiotics- If your partner has an infection that is affecting sperm count, it may become necessary for your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic to help.
- Hormone Treatment- If your partner’s hormone levels are out of whack, your physician may suggest hormone therapy to even out their hormones.
- Surgery- Occasionally, doctors will perform surgery to alleviate a blockage or even go straight into the testicles to retrieve sperm.
- Healthy Lifestyle- Of course, as anyone would tell you, it never hurts to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means a balanced diet that avoids smoking, drugs, and excessive caffeine and alcohol. I hate to say the dirty e word too. Exercise. eek!
You can probably guess what this means, but if not, I will tell you. Sperm motility refers to the way the sperm swim. In a recent post, I referred to a documentary on Youtube that talks all about the perils that sperm must survive in the woman’s female reproductive tract. So, if sperm cannot swim properly, they are going to have a heck of a time reaching the egg.
Unfortunately there is little you can do to improve sperm motility aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Do not fret! You still have some options and they include:
- IUI- Intrauterine Insemination (also known as artificial insemination)
- IVF- In Vitro Fertilization
- Sperm Donation
I know this might sound like a bum deal and I will sympathize. It IS A BUM DEAL. It sucks. Life is just not fair sometimes, but with the help of modern medicine…there is hope. Please don’t give up hope. I am rooting for you!
Sperm morphology is the physical shape of the sperm. Believe it or not, there are numerous ways a sperm can be shaped. A sperm could have two heads or tails. The head and body may also be too large or too small. A perfect sperm will have one regular sized head, body, and one tail.
If your partner has an issue with sperm morphology, taking the following supplements may improve sperm morphology:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
For a more precise amount of each of these supplements, please consult your physician. As always, you can turn to fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF to conceive.
Like I mentioned earlier, I know it sucks. Poor sperm feels like a curse and may make you feel hopeless. You’re not alone and fortunately THERE ARE OPTIONS. Don’t give up hope. Keep fighting the good fight. And remember…you don’t have to Walk the Lonely Path Alone.
Whitley Dahl is the founder of Walking the Lonely Path. She has been married to her husband now for 8 years and has struggled for over 4 of those years to become pregnant. PCOS and Endometriosis has been ruled out as the culprit. They believe another unrelated medical issue has been contributing to their infertility. After going through IUIs and IVF, she is more determined than ever to help others going through the journey feel more peace and find the answers they so desperately seek. Although she has not become pregnant yet, she continues to live by hope that she and other woman like her will soon have their chance at becoming a mother.