Male infertility: Alcohol use can lead to falling sperm count in men
It is an undeniable fact that the problem of infertility has been a major area of concern at reproductive age. When it comes to male infertility, the problem gets doubled due to the social factors. It not only affects their physical health but also hampers their mental well-being and ability to perform in bed. In many societies, it is believed that male infertility is a taboo and the problem in the reproduction cycle happens only due to female infertility. As a result, there is a lack of awareness regarding this issue and people do not openly talk about it. For men, these factors not only make it difficult to accept the problem but also to seek help without any problem or embarrassment. Low sperm count refers to the reduction of sperm in semen during ejaculation and is called oligospermia while in the case of complete absence of sperm in semen, it is called azoospermia. The problem of low sperm count becomes a barrier for men to impregnate their female partners despite regular sexual intercourse. There are a lot of factors that have led to the rise of this condition.
1. Drug use: It is directly linked to low sperm count which stimulates muscle strength and the growth can cause the testicles to shrink. As a result, the production of sperm decreases and even affects the quality.
There are many causes of male infertility, from deficiencies in the semen, low sperm production, abnormal sperm function to blockages or obstruction in the passages which prevent the delivery of sperm.
Fertility challenges have always been stressful for both men and women. Male infertility requires adequate attention. Here are some common fertility related issues in men you need to know.
Precaution: It is important to quit the use of any type of drugs. Also take medications only when prescribed by your doctor.
2. Alcohol use: Another reason for the fall in sperm count is alcohol abuse that can directly affect the testosterone levels and cause decreased sperm production.
Precaution: Consumption of alcohol must be avoided at all costs. Since it is difficult to suddenly quit this habit, one must first try to reduce the intake and gradually quit.
3. Tobacco consumption: The use of tobacco highly affects the reduction of sperm count in men especially while smoking.
Precaution: It is important to quit or abstain cigarette smoking. Apart from that, one must also quit chewing tobacco.
4. Stress: The change in lifestyle and work hours have highly affected the lives of many people. Due to prolonged stressful work hours and disturbed sleep cycle, the sperm count is most likely to be affected. Due to severe emotional stress which even includes stress about fertility, might interfere with hormones needed to produce sperm.
Precaution: It is important to follow a healthy lifestyle and get ample amount of sleep. One must get at least 7 hours of sleep to give enough rest to the body. Managing stress levels by inculcating some new hobbies can be very helpful.
5. Depression: It is a very common problem for many people and can negatively affect sperm concentration in the reproductive system.
Precaution: It is important to manage the stress level which is the root cause of depression. Having some form of physical exercise including yoga can helping managing depression. Apart from that, one must follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to create a healthy environment.
6. Obesity: It can lead to hormonal changes inside the body and can lower the testosterone levels responsible for driving sperm production in males.
Precaution: It is important to manage the BMI (body mass index) to reduce the chances of obesity. This can be achieved by regular exercise and adding fiber rich food to the daily diet.
7. Overheating the testicles: The elevation in the temperature around the testicles impairs sperm production and its function. It increases the temperature in scrotum that lowers the sperm count.
Precaution: It is recommended to wear loose clothes especially innerwear. One must wear briefs rather than boxers as it helps in increasing FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) level. One must also avoid working on a laptop computer for long stretches of time
8. Diabetes: Being overweight is often linked with Type 2 diabetes and leads to the decrease in testosterone levels.
Precautions: It is important to manage the blood sugar level and monitor it regularly. One must ensure that the consumption of saturated sugar is less.
9. Infection: Certain infections can interfere with sperm production and its health and may even lead to blockage of the passage of sperm. Some of these infections include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) while certain infections are even transferred during sexual intercourse, such as gonorrhea or HIV.
Precautions: it is recommended to get diagnosed by an andrologist in case of persisting symptoms of these infections. Apart from that, it is also advised to use protection such as condom during sexual intercourse to avoid the risk of transmittable infections.
10. Radiation or X-ray: Male who suffer from cancer and have undergone treatment or any other form of radiation can reduce sperm count.
Precaution: There are treatments available to protect the testicles from radiation such as gonadal shielding.
(Dr. Souren Bhattacharjee is a Consultant at Birla Fertility & IVF)
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