Male infertility and its management (2) contd. by Prof. Oladapo Ashiru
Other factors that are commonly implicated as causes of male infertility are the following:
Drug use: Anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. Use of cocaine or marijuana might reduce the number and quality of your sperm as well.
Alcohol use: Drinking alcohol, especially in excess, can lower testosterone levels and cause decreased sperm production.
Occupation: Certain occupations might be linked with a risk of infertility. Recent studies have shown a clear link between specific environmental toxin exposure and infertility.
Tobacco smoking: Men who smoke might have a lower sperm count than do those who don’t smoke.
Weight/ Obesity can impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting sperm and by causing hormone changes.
Known causes of male infertility
Sperm production problems
Chromosomal or genetic causes
Twisting of testes in scrotum (Torsion)
Medicine and chemicals
Blockage of sperm transport
Absence of Vas Deferens
Sexual problems (erection and ejaculation dysfunctions)
Failure of ejaculation
Prostate diseases and surgery
Retrograde and premature ejaculation
Anabolic steroid use
Infection in the epididymis
In general, scientists and fertility doctors are noticing a drop in sperm count and motility, which makes it harder for couples to make babies. Other factors attributed to this include
Plastics: Bisphenol A, an additive to plastic found in many household products, can lower sperm count and motility. A 2008 study in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, showed that men with high concentrations of BPA in their urine also had low sperm counts. Food packaging is a significant source of BPA.
Pesticides: Scientists have also noted that farmers who are exposed to pesticides tend to have a low sperm count. The chemical runoff from pesticides can get into tap water and disrupt hormonal processes.
Tumours: Cancers and non-malignant tumors can affect the male reproductive organs directly, through the glands that release hormones related to reproduction, such as the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes. Surgery, radiation or chemotherapy used in tumour management can also affect male fertility.
Undescended testicules: During fetal development, one or both testicles sometimes fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac that usually contains the testicles (scrotum). If left uncorrected, this can cause decreased fertility when the child grows, as the affected testes are unable to produce healthy sperm necessary for conception.
Chromosome defects: Inherited disorders, such as Klinefelter’s syndrome – in which a male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome instead of one X and one Y – cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organs. Other genetic syndromes associated with infertility include cystic fibrosis, Kallmann’s Syndrome, and Kartagener’s Syndrome.
Celiac disease: A digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, Celiac disease can cause male infertility. Fertility may improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
Certain medications: Testosterone replacement therapy, long-term anabolic steroid use, cancer medications (chemotherapy), certain antifungal and antibiotic medications can impair sperm production and decrease male fertility.
Prior surgeries: Certain past surgeries might prevent a man from having sperm in the semen when he ejaculates. These may include vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and significant abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others. In most cases, the operation can be rendered to either reverse these blockages or to retrieve sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.
Environmental and other causes
Sperm production or function can be affected by overexposure to certain environmental elements, including:
Industrial chemicals: Extended exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, painting materials, and lead might contribute to low sperm counts.
Heavy metal: Exposure to lead or other heavy metals also can cause infertility.
Radiation or X-rays: Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production. It can take several years for sperm production to return to following normal exposure to X-rays. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced. It is being reported that keeping mobile phones in the pocket near the upper thigh where it is close to the testicles is hugely harmful to sperm production, with resulting low sperm count and morphology.
Overheating the testicles: Elevated temperatures impair sperm production and function. The testicles require a heat slightly less than the body’s average temperature for healthy function. Sitting for long periods, wearing tight clothing, working on a laptop computer for long periods and frequent use of hot tubs might increase the temperature in your scrotum and slightly reduce sperm production.
Emotional stress: Severe or prolonged emotional stress, including anxiety about fertility, might interfere with hormones needed to produce sperm.
Sperm testing issues. Lower than normal sperm counts can result from testing a sperm sample that was taken too soon after your last ejaculation, was produced too more quickly after an illness or stressful event, or didn’t contain all of the semen you ejaculated because some were spilled during collection. For this reason, results are generally based on several samples taken over some time.
In many cases the use of some hormone therapy, antioxidants, and whole body detoxification has been observed to be very helpful in improving the sperm morphology, motility and reducing the incidence of DNA fragmentation, thereby improving male fertility. Fortunately, such a comprehensive, standard detoxification centre is now available in Nigeria and many infertile couples are taking advantage of its benefits regarding improvement in fertility. Mart-Life Detox Clinic is located at No 2, Olatunbosun str, Shonibare Estate, Maryland, Lagos.