Behind the Scenes: Maximizing Male Fertility
by Elaine Gottlieb
You may not choose to become a father at aged 77, but from a strictly biological perspective, it is within the realm of possibility. Most men produce sperm for their entire lives.
The male reproductive system is relatively simple; as a result, it generally functions quite efficiently. Sperm are produced in the testicles and stored within the scrotum in a "sack" called the epididymis. During erection, but before ejaculation occurs, the sperm travel from the epididymis to the vas deferens. The vas deferens is the tube that is severed in a vasectomy. The sperm is then propelled to the urethra where they mix with other fluids to form semen, which is ejaculated through the tip of the penis.
What Can Stand in the Way of Fertility? TOP
Certain medical conditions can interfere with the proper functioning of the reproductive process. They include:
Maintaining Your Fertility TOP
The average male produces 60-100 million sperm per milliliter (mL) of semen. Low sperm counts are not considered a problem until they get as low as 20 million per mL, which is diagnosed as oligospermia. That may still sound like an enormous number, but statistics show that it is more difficult for couples to conceive at this level.
Conception is difficult at low sperm levels, because even at full count, only a fraction of sperm survive the difficult journey from the vagina through the uterus to the fallopian tubes, where conception takes place. The sperm must be strong swimmers. A man can have a low sperm count but still successfully conceive if his sperm have good motility.
Semen analysis can tell you the quantity and quality of your sperm. If your sperm count is critically low, a drug called clomiphene citrate, which stimulates testosterone production, can sometimes boost sperm creation.
One way to maintain healthy fertilityis to adopt a fertility-friendly lifestyle.This can be done by avoiding smoking and alcohol. You can also increase your physical activity, eat right, and maintain a healthy weight.
The temperature of the testicles is one of the most significant factors in fertility. Testicles do not produce sperm well at high temperatures. That is why nature, in its infinite wisdom, placed the testicles a few inches from the body. This keeps them cool. Men with undescended testicles have difficulties producing sperm.
Men who wear tight pants and/or tight briefs, regularly use saunas, jacuzzis, hot tubs,or whirlpools or even take frequent hot baths might have lower sperm counts. When you stop these activities or change to looser clothing, it may increase your sperm count.
Other factors that can adversely affect fertility include:
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive and are not having success, see your doctor.
American Urological Association Foundation
American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor
Bener A, Al-Ansari AA, Zirie M, Al-Hamaq AO. Is male fertility associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus? Int Urol Nephrol . 2009 Apr 21.
Epididymitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what . Updated March 15, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2013
Fode M, Krogh-Jespersen S, Brackett NL, et al. Male sexual dysfunction and infertility associated with neurological disorders. Asian J Androl . 2012;15(1):61-68.
Infertility. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what . Updated March 11, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Male infertility. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydocto... . Updated February 2010. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Male infertility. Planned Parenthood website. Available at http://www.planned... . Accessed March 29, 2013.
Male infertility. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=102 . Updated March 2013. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Sallmén M, Sandler DP, Hoppin JA, Blair A, Baird DD. Reduced fertility among overweight and obese men. Epidemiology . 2006 Sep.17(5):520-523.
Varicocele. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what . Updated March 15, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Last reviewed April 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 3/29/2013