How to Avoid Male Infertility

Some day, you may want kids…or you may not. It’s not on the top of your mind now as it’s still early in the relationship and you are in that wonderful phase of discovery with your partner.  If this is your station then read on because, in the words of Ben Franklin, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

A Short List of Things To Avoid

Male infertility is either handed to you (genetic) or is a consequence of life on this earth (acquired). You can’t do much about the former, but you can have some say in the latter. Here is a list of common acquired reasons for male infertility organized by severity. Try to avoid these exposures or conditions if you can, and well in advance of family building. Also enclosed are the slides from a very popular lecture on this topic that I first gave to infertility specialists at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

Definite Risk of Male Infertility

Anabolic steroids
Testosterone replacement
Opiate pain medication (codeine, hydrocodone, Demerol)
Hot baths, tubs
Recreational drugs
Cancer chemotherapy
Chronic fevers

Probable Risk of Male Infertility

Overweight (BMI >30)
Stress (physical, emotional, financial)
Excessive alcohol consumption
Finasteride (prostate and hair loss medication)
Pituitary (brain) tumors
Ketoconazole (antiandrogen)
Cimetidine (anti-ulcer)
Spironolactone (blood pressure medication)
Calcium channel blockers (blood pressure medication)
Azathioprine (for autoimmune disease)
Industrial toxins (BPA, PCBs)
Testis cancer

Possible Risk of Male Infertility

Sexually transmitted disease
Diabetes mellitus
Herbal supplements (estrogenic)
Heavy metal exposure (lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury)
Anti-depressants (SSRI)
Sulfa-based drugs (sulfasalazine, sulfamethoxasole, nitrofurantoin)
Colchicine (anti-gout)
Excessive X-ray exposure
Biologic response modifiers (TNF-alpha blockers for autoimmune disease)
HMG-CoA Inhibitors (cholesterol drugs)

Remember sperm production is an engine that wants to run fast. Avoiding the above risk factors can help it run free and easy. As the ever quotable Franklin also said: “A little neglect may breed great mischief…for want of a nail the shoe was lost.”

Are You Having Trouble Conceiving?

If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, you may consider undergoing fertility testing. A semen analysis (or sperm count) is an easy and non-invasive way to gather important information about male fertility.

After you have provided a semen sample, male reproductive specialists will analyze the quantity and quality of the sperm in your sample. Not all semen analysis labs are equivalent: some lack quality, consistency and attention to detail. However, you can feel reassured that Dr. Turek works with the highest quality labs that will perform a complete, methodical analysis of your sample, looking for factors that may be missed by other labs. These labs are hand-picked by Dr. Turek and have even increased the depth of their analysis due to Dr. Turek’s guidance and standards/requirements/specifications.

Although only one sperm is needed to fertilize an egg, having too little sperm in your ejaculate makes it more difficult to conceive. Normal sperm movement and morphology (i.e., structure) are also important to reach and fertilize an egg.

If the results of your semen analysis are inconclusive or abnormal, Dr. Turek will suggest you undergo an additional semen analysis or further testing to determine the underlying