Fertility a multifaceted approach by Sarah Fehlberg
The word Fertility what does it mean? By definition
1. (of animals and plants) the quality of being able to produce young or fruit
But what does Fertility mean to you?
In clinic I often see women with an array of health concerns surrounding there "fertility".
Low nutrient profiles
Not sure when and if they are ovulating
Being told they have "unhealthy" Follicles
Feel the pressure is all on them
Have partners who don't want to get "checked"
Tried for some time to have a baby and all HER tests are good, so not sure what its not happening
the list can go on, but you can see my point.
While we are on the word, point. Where does this list point to? the woman right?
Yes we as Naturopaths work closely with women to aid in fertility, first and foremost to enhance overall health which in turn always helps with fertility.
But I want to stop you for a second if you are a woman who is struggling with fertility and ask you one very important and often overlooked question.
Who's checking on the male ?
Men are the absolute other half of this equation we call fertility
Thats right, Mens health and fertility - if you are getting a "check up" because you are "thinking" about trying or currently trying to conceive, its so important to remember the other part of the equation!
THATS YOU, MEN!
Did you know that part of a mans sperm health and motility can be determined by a mans lifestyle
Are you a bike rider? do your testes overheat on a daily basis?
Do you sit around a lot?
How much alcohol do you consume?
Are you a smoker?
Are you stressed?
Do you eat fast or fried food often?
Did you know the DNA of sperm and what deems it to be healthy has to do with how many nutrients you are eating and absorbing and whether there is enough antioxidants within the diet such as adequate amounts (but not too much) protein (to show you one example!)
Three factors in Male Fertility that are common in practice are;
Oligospemia -low sperm concentration Why would there be low sperm concentration? Many reasons - Diet, Lifestyle, excess alchohol consumption, stress - to name a few!
Asthenospermia - Poor Sperm Motility - what does that mean? it means sperm can't swim fast enough to the egg! Simple as that.
Motility is measured via sperm transit time within the prostate and epididymis. A decrease in motility can be related to age causing alterations in the sperms mitochondrial functioning, what causes a lack of motility? - look above. It's the whole picture at play here.
Teratospermia - abnormal sperm morphology - actual "defect" sperm
One or more of these factors make it less likely for a sperm to fertilise an egg under "normal" conditions.
So if you are a male reading this and you and your partner have been having fertility struggles and you are still thinking you don't need your semen quality assessed, please think again!
Some other factors for consideration include Seminal Volume, the sex glands themselves which effect semen volume as well as it's motility.
Seminal markers for investigation include; (showing a relationship with motility)
Glucosidase which is secreted by the epididymis
What does this mean you say?
Activity of neutral a-glucosidase (NAG) is significantly reduced when there is a blockage distally to the epididymis (the duct behind the testes) and NAG is said to be responsible for sperm maturation! a direct correlation is said to be seen between this enzymes activity and semen volume.
Prostate Specific antigen (PSA)
PSA level in semen has been shown to correlate with sperm motility, suggesting thatPSA level/activity can affect fertility.
Zinc secreted from the prostate
Nutrients and Minerals are a HUGE part of Natural health, fertility and a Naturopaths way of investigating the underlying causes of common health problems.
Zinc is one mineral that is so underrated in terms of mens hormonal health.
To quote Renty B Franklin - Zinc Deficiency is the most consistent and persistent characteristic of prostate malignancy.
Never underestimate the importance of nutrients and minerals!
With studies suggesting Glucosidase, PSA & Zinc, were significantly lower in men over 50 compared to men ages 21-30yrs. The changes are seen to occur due to changes with the sex glands function itself.
Last but not least - the long forgotten and overlooked
Underlying medical conditions and Lifestyle Factors!
Sexually transmitted infections
Epididymal obstructions that can cause inflammation
Malnutrition - common cause of hypogonadism
Medications - common medications effecting sperm include antihypertensives, calcium channel blockers, treatments for the prostate - to name a few.
As you can see, and this is a very simple snap shot - mens health and sperm health is key to the WHOLE fertility picture.
The predicament I've raised means considering and implementing the correct evaluation and assessment of every single aspect of a mans health and sperm quality not only for fertility but for overall health - for fertility only comes when ones health is properly cared for.
Making it just as important and clinically relevant for a couples fertility now more than ever.
If you are a man reading this and you and your partner have been trying, consider your health as part of the fertility journey and consider how much your partner may have endured during the "trying" and remember its not all on her, it biologically can't be! You need healthy sperm to fertilise those eggs folks!
Common assessment tools we use;
Overall blood panel assessment - this can include things such as Zinc (important for prostate health), PSA as mentioned earlier, Inflammatory and Immune markers, Common nutrient deficiencies, Thyroid Function, Cortisol patterns, Sperm health (as above)
Nutritional medicine - an overlook of what your dietary intake may need help with
Herbal Medicine - Supporting all systems where neccesary
Lifestyle Factors - Stress, nervous system, sleep, downtime
Mental and Emotional health
I'll leave it there,
If you have any questions or would like an overall assessment - couples appointments also available
Please feel free to get in touch