Statistics indicate around 1/3rd of all cases of infertility can be linked to the male partner. Male fertility is generally linked to sperm disorders such as low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape, or poor sperm motility. A standard semen analysis test can be conducted to determine the cause immediately.
Generally, the sperm count of a fertile male would be in the range of 200 million, while the count considered normal for fertilisation is around 20 million per millilitre. More than half the sperm cells in the sample need to be mobile, while at least a third should be of normal shape. However, most cases of male infertility can be overcome through Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment, where a single sperm cell is injected into the centre of an egg to achieve fertilization.
Statistics suggest that roughly one in three cases of infertility can be explained by female causes. These causes may be physical, hormonal or simply age-related. Once the exact cause of infertility has been determined, the doctor will be able to make recommendations on the course of treatment that needs to be adopted.
Infertility in males can be attributed to one of several factors – a sperm transport disorder, a gonad disorder, a hypothalamic or pituitary disorder or other unknown causes. Male infertility usually occurs due to ejaculation problems, insufficient quantity of sperm, and sperm of abnormal size.
Abnormal sperm is identified by a short life span and low motility. This may be caused by inflammation of the testicles, varicoceles in the testicles and abnormally developed testicles. The use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, or exposure to radiation and poisonous chemicals could result in a low sperm count. Hormonal disorders or injuries sustained in the groin area could also lead to a low sperm count.
The third main cause of infertility is difficulty in ejaculation, including premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and retrograde ejaculation, wherein semen is forced back into the bladder.
While it is difficult to completely prevent infertility through a diet, there are certain foods that can contribute to healthier sperm. Foods rich in Omega-3 are strongly recommended for increasing one’s sperm count, so a diet loaded with fish and flax, chia or hemp seeds would go a long way in preventing infertility.
Folic acid – which is equally beneficial for women in enhancing their chances of pregnancy – contributes to higher fertility in men, as higher intake of folates has been linked to higher sperm quality. Folic acid occurs naturally in dark leafy greens such as spinach, asparagus and Brussel sprouts, among others.
Antioxidants help protect sperm from oxidative stress, which is responsible for most cases of male subfertility. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes provide the requisite antioxidants to your body and help you maintain a healthy weight – another factor for infertility in men.