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What is Male Factor Infertility?

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By: Dr. Ken Cadesky, MD, FRCSC – Medical Director and Founding Partner

Male factor infertility is a medical term that refers to issues with sperm. When we are looking at sperm problems, we look at both the sperm count and the sperm quality. Certain factors can affect both of these:

  • Sperm is particularly sensitive to environmental influences such as the air we breathe and the water we drink, or certain chemicals or toxins that can be present in our everyday environment
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol use, and recreational drug use can also cause problems with sperm health
  • Certain medications, such as chemotherapy or radiation treatment, or medications used to prevent baldness will almost certainly negatively affect sperm
  • Some people have varicose veins of the testicles that can affect sperm
  • There can be genetic factors that can influence sperm quality
  • And, in some cases, there are no sperm present when a sperm sample is provided

Testing Sperm Health

At TRIO, we recommend a DNA Fragmentation test. This non-invasive test gives us an idea of the ability of sperm to form a healthy pregnancy. It also tells us about the acrosomes – or drills of the sperm – which are necessary for natural fertilization. Age is the main factor in the loss of acrosomes. Everyone with sperm will start to lose a percentage of acrosomes with age. For some, this happens at 45 years old, and for others, it can happen at age 25.

So, to summarize, the DNA fragmentation test is important to confirm a normal sperm count, to determine if the sperm is healthy and to see whether or not the sperm have acrosomes.

Improving Sperm Quality

What can you do to keep sperm healthy? The best approach is to lead the healthiest lifestyle possible: this means don’t smoke or use recreational drugs and be sure to tell us at TRIO about all medications you are taking. Our naturopaths at Conceive Health can recommend supplements that can help with sperm health. And, remember that sperm operates on a three-month assembly line: any insult or exposure, or conversely any health intervention such as supplements or positive lifestyle changes won’t be reflected for three months.

Most of all we want to stress that you shouldn’t feel guilty about being diagnosed with male factor infertility. In most cases, the diagnosis is not under your control; in many cases, the damage can be reversed with supplements and lifestyle changes; and because this is a condition we deal with all the time at TRIO, we can help. It’s important to keep in mind that if we can get sperm, there is potentially a high pregnancy rate with IVF. Contact us today for further information.