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Health » Sexual-health » Preventing-infertility-061030
Preventing male infertility

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani Dr. Aniruddha Malpani
Renowned infertility specialist. He runs an infertility clinic in Mumbai and has written many books.

Preventing male infertility Often preventing infertility is much easier and better than treating it! What can you do to reduce the risk of being infertile? The biggest preventable danger to male fertility is uncontrolled sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia which can cause irreparable damage to the reproductive tract. Another important preventable cause of testicular damage in men is uncorrected undescended testes. Undescended testes should be surgically treated at an early age to prevent damage - preferably before the age of 2 years. This requires educating mothers of young boys; and doctors as well. It may also be a good idea to immunise boys against mumps in childhood, thus preventing the ravage which mumps can cause to the testes in later life.


Drugs - including alcohol, cocaine and marijuana - are all poisons. They can reduce sex drive, damage sperm production, and interfere with ovulation and sometimes this damage is irreparable. Smoking tobacco also affects reproductive function - by depleting egg production, increasing the risk of PID, and lowering sperm counts. Often, the adverse effect is temporary so that when these are stopped, the harmful effects on reproductive functions are likely to be reversed. However, since abstinence is easier than moderation, the best option is not to smoke, drink or use drugs!

Occupational hazards can also decrease sperm counts. Many toxic drugs - including radiation, radioactive materials, anesthetic gases, and industrial chemicals such as lead, the pesticide DBCP and the pharmaceutical solvent ethylene oxide - can reduce fertility by impairing sperm production. Intense exposure to heat in the workplace (for example, long-distance truck drivers exposed to engine heat; and men working in furnaces or in bakeries) can cause long-term and even permanent impairment of sperm production. You should be aware of these hazards and may need to control your exposure if fertility is a concern.

Interestingly, many researchers have observed that sperm count is declining world over. Whether this is due to exposure to toxic chemicals such as dioxins (formed as a result of environmental pollution), which cause disruption of the endocrine system; or due to the stresses of modern day life remains unclear.

What can you do to improve your sperm count?
Stop smoking, drinking or abusing drugs. Most doctors will advise that you take vitamins (such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C) and others prescribe antioxidants and selenium, though the effect of these on male fertility is still a contentious issue. Traditional advise includes taking cold water showers and wearing loose underwear to help keep the testicular temperature low and ''sperm friendly'', but the results can be unpredictable. Certain drugs (for example, salazopyrine which is used for treating ulcerative colitis) can suppress sperm counts, so if you are taking prescription medicines, ask your doctor about their effect on sperm count. One simple way of increasing your chances of getting your wife pregnant is to have sex frequently - the more the sperm you deposit, the better your chances of hitting the jackpot!

To know more about male infertility read Deconstructing male virility, sexuality, fertility

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