If you have been trying to get pregnant for a year and haven’t been successful, you have an infertility problem. This happens to many couples. About one-third of the time, infertility is because of the woman, another one-third is due to the man, and the remaining one-third either is because of both parties or is unknown, according to the Medline Plus. Infertility problems are treatable; two out of three couples with infertility will have babies.
Male fertility is all about sperm quality, quantity and motility, according to MayoClinic.com. For sperm to do the job, there has to be enough of it–20 million sperm per milliliter of semen–to be exact. Besides having enough of it, the sperm has to be good quality, which doctors determine by its shape. Good sperm has an oval head and a long tail that helps propel it. If the head is too large or too small or if the tail is kinky, curled or doubled, sperm will have trouble making it to the egg. Motility refers to how well the sperm move. They ride the semen wave at first, but after that, they must swim on their own to reach and penetrate the egg.
Men need the right hormones to produce healthy sperm, according to the Baby Center website. The same hormones that control a woman’s reproductive system control a man’s. Therefore, the same fertility drugs that women take can stimulate sperm production.
Fertility drugs don’t work as well for men as they do for women, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved them for use in men. However, fertility specialists can prescribe them for men. Fertility drugs can help men with specific hormonal imbalances, according to the Baby Center website. If a man is infertile because of a hormone deficiency that prevents the testicles from producing sperm, called hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, a doctor may prescribe clomiphene, taken as a pill, or human menopausal gonadotropin, taken as injections.
How Long to Take
Fertility drug treatments can last for six months and up to a year. The goal is to increase the sperm count. The chances of fertility drug treatments for men working is 20-to-25 percent. The side effects of clomiphene and human menopausal gonadotropin are temporary blurred vision, weight gain and breast enlargement. In rare cases, liver damage is a side effect of clomiphene.
Other Methods for Healthy Sperm
Besides taking fertility drugs, men can try other ways to produce better sperm. A daily multivitamin that contains selenium, zinc and folic acid can help sperm production and quality. Eating foods that contain antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, can help. Stress can decrease sexual function, so men should try to reduce stress. Exercise is good, but not to the point of exhaustion, which can temporarily change hormone levels, producing a drop in sperm. Being the right weight helps. Being underweight or overweight can reduce the sperm count. Some environmental factors are bad for sperm, too. Men should avoid being around toxins, should quit using tobacco, limit alcohol, should not use illicit drugs, avoid hot tubs, avoid taking steroids, keep the scrotal temperature low by not placing a laptop there or by not wearing tight underwear and by avoiding lubricants during sex.
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