A closer look at the link between sperm health and miscarriages
From the beginning of time, I feel that women have borne the burden and blame of miscarriages. New research however, is finally shedding light on the important role of sperm in leading to a healthy pregnancy, and conversely, to miscarriage.
A recent article published in Science Alert highlighted the growing evidence that poor sperm quality may be an important factor in repeat pregnancy loss (RPL).
We know men bring 50% of the genetics to an embryo. We know 60% of miscarriages are due to genetic problems within the embryo….so why aren’t men flocking in for treatments after their partners miscarry? Seriously?! Where are they?
Even if a man has been told that he has normal semen parameters (count, motility and morphology), this does not exclude him from being a factor in miscarriages due to genetic abnormalities. Improving quality, no matter how ‘good’ the semen parameters are, is always a valuable way to help reduce the chances of another miscarriage in the future.
Here are some basics to follow:
Step one: Have a semen analysis if you haven’t already (or if it’s been over a year since your last one)
Step two: Take supplements to improve quality, quantity and motility. At Acubalance, we like the KISS supplements.
Here are some of my favorite suggestions:
Don’t cook your balls
The human body is 37 degrees Celsius while sperm functions best at 32 degrees Celsius. This means anything that elevates the scrotum’s temperature over a period of time can adversely affect sperm. Long distance driving, extended sitting, hot baths, saunas, hot tubs, tight-fitting underwear, hot Yoga and athletic support straps all can raise the temperature of the scrotum, thus “cooking” the sperm. It can take up to 3-6 months to recover from a heat assault.
Don’t radiate your balls either
Carrying cell phones in your front pocket has been linked to impaired motility and quality. So please, put that phone in a coat pocket, a back pocket, a side bag…anywhere but right next to your testicle. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4074720/
Avoid too much alcohol
Alcohol interferes with the ability to make testosterone and also speeds-up the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. Furthermore, the breakdown product of alcohol in the body is acetaldehyde, which is toxic to sperm. All of this can lower sperm count and decrease sex drive. The good news is that if you decrease you drinking to less than 5 drinks a week (and no more than 2 in one sitting), most of the damage will repair over time.
Smoking increases the number of free radicals in the body, which are known to damage many cells. Sperm cells are among those most affected by free radical damage so smoking can result in reduced sperm count and motility as well as increased amount of abnormally-shaped sperm. Fortunately, this damage is generally reversible if you quit smoking.
Many prescription drugs affect fertility: common antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline can wipe out a sperm harvest while phenytoin, glucocorticoids, sulfasalazine, and nitrofurantoin are other drugs that can affect sperm motility.
Furthermore, many non-prescription drugs can have a toxic effect on sperm. For example, the chemical ingredient in marijuana is very closely related to testosterone, which causes the body to produce less of its own. Marijuana also builds-up in the testes, lowering libido, causing impotence, and sometimes even causing sexual anxiety. Fortunately, as with cigarettes, if you stop smoking them, you will probably see an improvement in sperm quality within 3-6 months. The effects of cocaine on fertility are similar to those of marijuana.
Too much caffeine may impair sperm production, cause chromosomal abnormalities, and effect sperm motility.
Not enough, or too much exercise
Though moderate regular exercise helps your reproductive health and may increase testosterone production, exercising to exhaustion may lower sperm count (due to heat) and temporarily reduce testosterone production.
Finally, if I haven’t covered all of your burning questions…just book a free 15 minute consultation and I would be happy to do my best to answer.
-Dr. Emilie Salomons