Australian site News.com have published an article on new research into the effects of drugs and alcohol on sperm. This follows on from an article in Daily Mail last week on the damage just four pints of lager a week can do to male fertility.
The Australian article gives much more detail than previous research on how exactly various drugs, steroids and alcohol effect sperm and the consequences of the damage done. It makes sombre reading but it is important to be aware of how easily sperm can be damaged.
Every sperm is a complex unit produced, like any single cell, by the proteins (taken from the food we eat) in our body. It is not immune to what we put into our bodies - there is no protective, sterile bag around the sperm to keep the bad stuff away. If we are low on nutrients and are introducing toxins in the form of nicotine, alcohol, excess caffeine or something stronger like cocaine, then we can't expect our sperm to be top quality. On the other hand, if you are focussing on upping the nutrients in your diet - especially male fertility boosters like selenium - then this is going to have a positive effect on your sperm.
Male fertility has long been overlooked by the medical profession. The focus is mainly on the woman, but men also have complicated reproductive systems and it is as important for their hormones to be in balance as it is for women. Men suffer from varioceles (like varicose veins but in the testicles) which can be genetic or a result of damage such as a mis-placed kick during a football match. In the UK, IVF is often recommended over variocele repair because it is seen as 'easier' (for who?, you have to ask) but there are clinics (such as the Western in Glasgow) that specialise in this type of micro-surgery and new developments are making it simpler, more effective and have eliminated the need for general anaesthetic.
Many men scoff at the idea that they need to do anything to help the chances of conceiving as a couple, especially if their semen analysis has been shown to be 'fine' - a very loose term if ever I heard one! You might be right, everything might be 'fine' but it's worth some deeper questioning - try and get hold of the semen analysis (your GP should be able to give you a copy with no problem) and look more closely at what it says so that you are properly informed. You may find that 'fine' actually means 'lower borders of what's normal', in which case get on the phone and give our nutritionist a call to find out what you can do to improve matters, or take some really good quality supplements. Whatever you do though, cutting out drugs and smoking and cutting down on alcohol have to be a priority.