Wellness

Biological Clock

Women aren’t the only ones with a biological clock. As men age, the quality of their semen also tends to decline. This is seen as decreased sperm concentration, motility and seminal volume, as well as an increase in DNA fragmentation. DNA fragmentation (breakages in the DNA contained in the sperm head, basically like the chips that the sperm bring to the baby-making party) has been linked to difficulty conceiving, miscarriages, and developmental disabilities in the child. In general, these symptoms begin to appear when a man reaches 45 years old.

Your weight may have as big of an effect on your sperm health as anything. Research has correlated Body Mass Index (BMI = Weight divided by Height) with sperm health.  For example, men with a higher BMI (overweight) have been shown to have lower sperm concentration than men in the healthy BMI range.

Where do you fall?  Use the following guidance to determine how your BMI stacks up and see how far you are from the optimal “healthy” range:

Below 18.5 – underweight

18.5 – 24.99 – healthy weight

25.0 – 29.99 – overweight

Above 30.0 – obese

The Spare Tire

That extra fat around your belly could be doing more than increasing your pants size. Several studies have linked visceral adiposity (that hard layer of belly fat often seen in middle aged men) to health concerns, such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. It also drastically affects your fertility. The extra layer of fat acts as an insulator, creating an environment that is too hot to support healthy sperm. Those extra fat cells also contain a large amount aromatase, an enzyme that converts estrogen to testosterone, causing a hormonal imbalance and impacting sperm production. A waist circumference exceeding 37 inches can begin to affect your health, while a waist circumference exceeding 41 inches can cause major health problems. To reduce your belly fat, try eating a diet rich in lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and getting an hour of exercise 3-5 days a week.

Ease of Erection and Loss of Libido

The ability to get and maintain an erection can be a result of several factors, including physical or emotional stress, performance anxiety, or obesity. If you consistently find yourself unable to rise to the occasion, your hormones could be to blame. An imbalance in testosterone can often lead to erectile problems, while high blood pressure can impact the mechanics of getting an erection.

Frequency of Sex

Your body is constantly producing sperm, so the frequency of which you have sex can help or harm your fertility.
How much is too much?
Ejaculating once a day or more can impact your sperm quality. While it’s rare for a healthy man to fully deplete the sperm his body has stored up (an average guy produces roughly 1,500 sperm a second), it takes 72 days for sperm to fully mature, so there are only so many fully mature sperm ready to be released. This means that if you ejaculate too frequently, your body runs out of ready for prime time players and has to send out the rookie sperm. This can mean lowered motility and morphology, impacting your ability to conceive.
How much is not enough?
On the other end of the spectrum, if you ejaculate less than 3 times a month, your epididydmis (where mature sperm cells are stored) could be in need of a major spring cleaning. Sperm begin to die about 5 days after they fully mature, so if you go with ejaculating for longer than a week, the majority of the sperm you release will be dead and unable to swim to the egg.

Testicular Symptoms

Your balls are your buddies, so it’s important that you know them really well. That’s why you should check yourself at least once a month. You’ll be able to notice any changes and catch any symptoms early. See a doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Consistent pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain during physical activity
  • Testicular shrinkage/swelling
  • Lumps or bumps
  • Skin discoloration
  • Sores on genitals

Blood Pressure

A blood pressure test generally measures two factors: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic: Your systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) measures the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. This number is generally considered the more important of the to in a blood pressure reading, due to its link with cardiovascular disease. A reading of 120-139 is a sign of pre-hypertension, meaning you are at risk for high blood pressure, and, if untreated, heart disease. A reading of 140 or higher indicates high blood pressure, which if untreated, could lead to heart disease.
Diastolic: Your diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a blood pressure reading) measures the amount of pressure in the arteries between heart beats. This number should always be lower than your systolic blood pressure. A reading of 80-89 is a sign of pre-hypertension, meaning you are at risk for high blood pressure. A reading of 90 or higher indicates high blood pressure, which if untreated could lead to heart disease.

What does this mean for my fertility?
Blood pressure is just that: the pressure of the blood being pushed through your . High amounts of pressure in the causes tiny tears in the blood vessels which eventually leads to scarring, hardening them and causing tiny crevices in their lining. Fats and cholesterol get trapped in these crevices, slowly blocking up and narrowing the blood vessels over time. This narrowing of these blood vessels, combined with the impaired ability to expand or contract can impair the blood flow needed for achieving and maintaining an erection. It can also impair the ability of your blood vessels to transport waste out of the testicles, causing a toxic environment for your sperm.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol tests measure three factors: LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides.
LDL: Bad Cholesterol
LDL is known as the bad cholesterol for a reason. High amounts of LDL (an LDL level of 160 or higher) can lead to plaque build-up in your blood vessels, causing blockages and limiting blood flow.

HDL: Good Cholesterol
Picture HDL as the garbage man for your arteries. It picks up the nasty plaque from caused by your LDL cholesterol and carries it back to the liver where it gets broken down and excreted. Whereas you want a low level for your LDL, a high HDL level (60 mg/dl or higher) can protect against heart disease and stroke.

Triglycerides
Triglycerides are fat found in the blood stream. When you eat, your body uses the calories it immediately needs and converts the left-over calories into triglycerides in order to save them and use them for energy between meals. If you eat consistently eat more calories than your body burns, you’ll have a higher level of triglycerides. A high level of triglycerides (200 or higher), combined with a low HDL level (less than 40 mg/dl) or high LDL level(160 or higher) can be a sign of plaque and fatty build-up in your arteries, increasing your chances of heart disease or stroke.

What does this mean for my fertility?
Unhealthy cholesterol levels can cause blockages in the blood vessels, limiting blood flow. This limited blood flow can impact your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. This lack of blood flow can also impact the removal of wastes from the testicles, as well as increase testicular heat, creating an environment that will kill sperm and impact their production.

Fasting Glucose

Fasting glucose is a popular test to diagnose diabetes. It’s a measurement of your blood sugar after a significant period of fasting (not eating for 9-12 hours). When you eat, you’re consuming glucose. Your body then releases insulin to keep your glucose levels from getting too high. A high fasting glucose level (over 100 mg/dL) is associated with diabetes.

A1c

A1c, also known as glycohemoglobin, is a measurement of how much glucose sticks to your red blood cells. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen through your body and is attached to red blood cells. When your glucose levels are too high, the extra glucose binds to the red blood cells. An A1c level of 5.7 is associated with diabetes.

What does this mean for my fertility?

High fasting glucose and A1c levels are often signs of diabetes. Diabetes can cause several fertility complications.
Retrograde ejaculation: Diabetes is a common cause of retrograde ejaculation. This is due to the nerve damage associated with diabetes. This nerve damage can harm the bladder sphincter (the muscle that prevents the semen from traveling up to the bladder during ejaculation), making it unresponsive and causing retrograde ejaculation.
Erectile Dysfunction: Diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction in several different ways. The nerve damage frequently seen in diabetics can impact the nerves crucial in achieving an erection. Diabetes also damages blood vessels, limiting the amount of blood that can rush to the penis. These two factors can create a mind-body disconnect. The desire to have sex is there, but the body is unable to achieve an erection. Finally, diabetes has been linked to lo testosterone. While low testosterone levels are not directly associated with erectile dysfunction, they have been associated with a lowered libido, or drop in sex drive.

Testosterone

Testosterone is the hormone responsible for your deep voice, your facial hair and the size of your biceps. It’s also directly responsible for your sperm production and linked to your sex drive. Testosterone is produced by your testicles, and is fed to baby sperm cells to help them mature into strong, healthy cells. When your testosterone is too low (less than 200 ng/dl), this can mean that sperm production slows down and sperm quality is impacted. Testosterone regulates sex drive, so when its levels are too low, your libido can drop. Low testosterone levels can be caused by several different factors, either naturally or through abuse of steroids, especially testosterone supplements.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

Follicle Stimulating hormone (FSH) sends a message to your Sertoli cells (the cells responsible for creating and supporting new sperm cells) to begin producing sperm. When FSH levels increase, your body starts the production of testosterone, until enough inhibin (the other hormone released in response to FSH) reaches the brain and signals the brain to stop producing FSH and preserve the hormonal balance. With all hormones, the key is balance. FSH that is too low (less than 8.9 mlU/ml) could indicate hypogonadism, meaning the body is not producing enough testosterone, so so sperm production slows down and testicles may shrink. If your FSH levels are too high(19 mlu/ml or higher) mean that your body is not producing enough inhibin, which could be a sign of testicular failure.

Luteinizing Hormone

Luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulates the production of testosterone. When your body is running low on testosterone, it sends a message to the pituitary gland to produce LH. The LH then travels to the Leydig cells. Leydig cells are responsible for the production of testosterone. When the LH reaches these cells, it signals them to begin producing testosterone. When enough testosterone is produced, your body stops producing LH. If your LH levels are too high, it’s a sign that your body is sending out LH, but not receiving the feedback to stop. This usually means that the testicles are failing to produce enough testosterone, leading hypogonadism.
If your LH levels are too low, this indicates an issue with your pituitary gland.Low levels of LH typically means a low level of testosterone, once again causing hypogonadism.

Estradiol

Estrogen isn’t just for the ladies. Estradiol, a type of estrogen, is responsible for your bone health, blood clotting, and for protecting your sperm.

2018-01-17T17:54:56+00:00