It is no surprise that most giveaways that we have here on The Leaky Boob are related to breastfeeding. It is the subject around which this community has formed, after all. But taking a step back, we have to face a screeching traffic-jamming reality: TLB wouldn’t exist if babies weren’t made. I mean the stuff required for conception to happen. It is a subject that merits its own support community, as fertility issues affect more couples than you or I can even imagine. Fertility is the primary focus of TLB sponsor Fairhaven Health, and after a bit of dialogue, we decided together to offer some support and awareness about male fertility issues in the guise of a giveaway. Suzanne offers some helpful information on the subject (below) and if you find yourself wanting to ask more questions about fertility for both men and women, that is Fairhaven Health‘s speciality!
TLB: Why should we be concerned about male fertility?
Suzanne: As a company that is focused on providing natural products to support fertility, pregnancy and nursing, it isn’t a surprise that most of the products we offer at Fairhaven Health are intended to be used by women. But, when it comes to fertility, it is important to understand that for nearly half of all couples that are struggling with infertility, it is actually the male partner with the fertility issue. The statistics related to declining sperm health are quite alarming – the average sperm count among adult men has decreased by 50% since 1938, and continues to decline by at least 2% every year. Chronic stress, prolonged exposure to dangerous environmental chemicals, and poor diets certainly take a toll on male reproductive health. As a result, many men suffer from low sperm count (defined as less than 20 million sperm per ml of semen), low sperm motility (defined as less than 50% of sperm showing good forward movement), and/or abnormal sperm morphology (the size and shape of sperm). And, poor sperm health can lead to couples having difficulty becoming pregnant.
If a couple has been actively trying to conceive for 6 months or more with no success, we always recommend that the male partner make an appointment to have a semen analysis done. Or, as an alternative, we offer a sperm count test that can be used at home – if he is hesitant about going to the doctor for a comprehensive semen analysis. And, even if it is discovered that his sperm health is less than optimal, the good news is that there is sound research in the area of male fertility that shows that supplementation with key nutrients can promote sperm health. That’s why we have developed a line of male fertility products!
TLB: Let’s talk about the lifestyle factors that impact sperm health. For instance, is it true that biking and hot tubs cause low sperm count?
Suzanne: Yes, in theory, any activity that increases the temperature of the male reproductive organs can reduce sperm count, at least temporarily. If a man knows he has low sperm count, and if he and his partner are trying to conceive, it is probably best that he avoid competitive bike racing (involving lots of time on a bicycle), saunas, hot tubbing, and/or using a lap top computer directly on his lap. But, the reality is that other lifestyle factors probably have a bigger impact on the quantity and quality of sperm. Smoking cigarettes, using chewing tobacco, drinking large amounts of alcohol, and exercising excessively all decrease the quantity and quality of sperm. Quitting, or simply cutting back on, any of these activities will help improve sperm health.
Exposure to environmental toxins is also implicated as a cause for declining male (and female) reproductive health. By limiting exposure to toxins in the workplace, at home, and from foods, men can help reduce the impact that these chemicals have on reproductive health. And, supporting the body’s own detoxification systems (with specific nutrients and herbal medicines, like those found in FertileDetox) can help the body efficiently eliminate and/or metabolize toxins.
TLB: When you say “toxins,” I think antioxidants. Can they play a part in improving sperm health?
Yes! It certainly looks that way. For many decades, theories about how to prevent chronic diseases of all types have emphasized the importance of antioxidant nutrients in combating the damaging effects of free radicals. Simply put, free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that are produced as the body breaks down toxins. These unstable oxygen molecules move around the body seeking to participate in biochemical reactions that make them more stable, which result in damage to fats and proteins that are found in the cells of our body, ultimately interfering with normal cellular function. The body utilizes a number of antioxidant strategies to neutralize free radicals, but if the free radical load exceeds the number of antioxidants available to the cell, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. As it turns out, sperm cells seem more susceptible to oxidative stress because they have less effective antioxidant mechanisms for neutralizing free radicals than other types of cells. Adding insult to injury, sperm cells are especially vulnerable to damage from free radicals due to the high amounts of fats contained in their cell membrane. As a result, oxidative stress takes a heavy toll on sperm, causing reduced sperm count, poor sperm motility and even DNA damage. Experts are now saying that oxidative stress is to blame for the majority (up to 80%) of all cases of male infertility.
Supplementing with antioxidant nutrients can help reduce oxidative stress. Several antioxidants have been shown to especially helpful for sperm health, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10 and the polyphenolic compounds in grape seed extract. All of these nutrients are found in our best-selling product for men, FertilAid for Men.
TLB: What other nutrients and herbal products are helpful for male reproductive health?
Suzanne: There is a handful of ingredients that have shown great promise in improving male reproductive health. Leading the charge are L-carnitine and zinc. Carnitine is a vitamin-like compound that helps to transport fatty acids into the energy powerhouse of the cell (called the mitochondria) where they can be “burned” for energy. Carnitine supplementation is useful for men with low sperm motility because it helps the sperm cells produce energy, increasing the ability of sperm to move quickly through the female reproductive tract. Research indicates that low zinc concentrations negatively affect serum testosterone levels and that infertile males tend to have lower concentration of seminal plasma zinc. And, supplementation with zinc increases sperm count, motility, and fertilizing capacity; and reduces the incidence of anti-sperm antibodies. Vitamin B12 supplementation has been shown to increase sperm count and selenium supplementation is helpful for sperm motility.
The herbs Maca and Mucuna pruriens are often talked about related to male fertility. Maca is a traditional herb that has been used medicinally for years to enhance fertility and libido. Numerous studies have shown that supplementation with maca improves sperm count, as well as sperm motility, semen volume, and overall sperm quality. Mucuna pruriens is a tropical plant, commonly known as velvet bean and cowitch. The plant has many traditional uses, and is still considered to be an effective aphrodisiac. Research indicates that Mucuna pruriens increases sperm count and sperm motility.
TLB: Wow, that’s a lot of information. Thank you for taking the time to educate our readers about this important subject. People need to know that this kind of information and support is readily available.
Fairhaven Health is giving away a collection of 5 Male Fertility Products to 5 lucky winners.
FertilAid for Men: A dietary supplement designed to enhance male fertility and improve overall reproductive wellness as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
CountBoost for Men: A dietary supplement designed to support optimal sperm count.
MotilityBoost for Men: A dietary supplement designed to support optimal sperm motility.
FertileDetox: A dietary supplement designed to support the body’s detoxification systems.
Virilitea: A loose-leaf, herbal tea designed to promote male fertility and sexual vitality.
Leakies can find these and other fertility, pregnancy and nursing products at www.FairhavenHealth.com
Good luck to everyone! Please use the widget below to be entered. The giveaway is open from August 14, 2013 through August 21, 2013. A big thanks to everyone at Fairhaven Health for their ongoing support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page or follow them on twitter and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity. You can also find Fairhaven Health on Pinterest!
This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents.