I'm talking today about low sperm counts and why we should always look further into this.
WHY YOU HAVENT HEARD FROM ME FOR A WHILE
For those of you that have listened to this podcast from the very beginning, it's been quite a gap. I'm sure for those of us that have caught up later. It may still be a gap and for that, I apologise.
What happened was I decided to take a break between season one and season two and that break was going to be about a month or maybe two months. That was April 2021. It was also around that time that the UK was to some extent re opening.
I was able to open my clinic doors and see my clients on a face to face, and also increase my online clients as house became empty at times again, as my family went back to work and school. I always had the intention of starting up again but in terms of work life balance, something had to give and it was, I'm afraid the podcast.
I've had lots of lovely messages from people asking where I am and if I'm okay and if I'm still working and yes, I am. I had just taken on a little bit too much.
But I'm back and I'm very excited. I've got great plans for lots of new episodes. So I hope you'll stay with me.
2 CLIENTS WITH EXTREMELY LOW SPERM COUNTS
So in this episode, what I thought I'd do is catch you up on what's been happening with clients and a couple of case studies. As I'm sure you're aware, I say it's a game of two halves. Fertility issues are 50% female and 50% Male, I know the burden is generally on the females but I had two clients that started seeing me around the same time and both had come and said that there was reasons they weren't getting pregnant. One had irregular periods, with physical and emotional symptoms pre menstrually. One had a diagnosis of endometriosis.
What I did with both of these clients, as I always do, is in order to get the full picture, took a full history and lifestyle of both partners and suggested that they got a sperm analysis for both male partners, which they did. Within about a week of each other these tests came back and they were incredibly similar. If you've listened to the podcast, you'll perhaps have heard me share that the WHO ( World World Health Organisation) guidelines for sperm analysis is that anything at or above 15 million is considered fertile. Anything below is considered to have some fertility issue. You'll also know from listening to me that I think we should be going well above that.
If you listened to Dr Sheryl Homa speak on the podcast you'll have heard her say that 15 million is not really optimal.
So, both of them had sperm results that 0.03 million, significantly lower. We discussed lifestyle factors and changes including antioxidants, we looked at supplementation, specific fertility supplementation and reducing inflammation but also his partner told me that he had really hot baths, which he had mentioned at fertility consultations and had been told that it wouldn't explain this this very, very low result. And the only option was ICSI.
So we worked together and I said just for three months lets drop the hot baths. While taking the supplement he stopped them, but what proved difficult was the opinion of family and friends.
LACK OF SUPPORT
Things like 'your dad had hot baths and we had you', We've always had hot baths and it's not an issue for us. Getting together with friends and going to a spa he didn't get in the hot tub, but friends said, it'll be OK.
So it brings to light this aspect doesn't it about people not being supportive of things both in the medical profession and also your social circle.
Anyway, they stuck to this and he didn't have hot baths for three months and he stuck to his supplement regime. There was some hand reflexology moves that I'd provided by video in their coaching support, which were being regularly every month that he was doing, or his partner was doing and after three months he has his semen tested and it went from 0.03 million to 30 million, 30 million! From being told that he would have no chance of conceiving a child naturally, making these small lifestyle changes to having absolute optimal result. And that is just incredible. But it's not surprising, not surprising to me at all. Because I've told you before I've discussed it before that this male factor is grossly overlooked, and if we could just look into this a little bit more, if we could just pay a little bit more attention to the quality and the quantity of sperm, then we will be making incredible changes to Fertility.
AN OVERLOOKED MEDICAL CONDITION
The second couple that I worked with, had the same result of 0.03 million, they had a child already. So something had happened. When we started to look into more detailed history, if you refer back to the Sheryl Homa episode where she spoke condition called a Varicocele, it was something that just struck in my mind when we had a chat because he was getting this kind of a ache that he'd had for a while and he just put it down to something else. He assumed that it might be related to his job or related to the fact that lifting weights and it was something that he put up with. To give you more background, the doctor in this case, I have to say , his bedside manner and communication skills were horrendous. I think he said something along the lines of well you're never going to happen with a child with a result like that.
IVF/ICSI THE ONLY OPTION?
And because they already had a child, the only option available was IVF, which would need to be self funded . Many questions arose such as, Would that be possible financially? Would it work? Anyway, as well as similar supplementation and hand reflexology input, I encouraged him to request or ultrasound of the testes. If it was just about fertility I'm sure the answer would have been no, but because he had a symptom, because he had this is kind of low level ache he pushed and he pushed and he pushed and he got an ultrasound. He also came to see me because he was a face to face client for a reflexology treatment and the reflex area that represents the testes on the side with the pain did feel different and now we don't diagnose with reflexology, but it did have some characteristics that had alerted me .
So he had the ultrasound and yes, he had a Varicocele and he's pushed and pushed for the surgery and he has had it. When they went to do the surgery, to remind a Varicocele is a varicose vein that is supplying the testes. If you think about the heat that is generated there is going to pretty much kill the sperm, but also the blood supply is affected as well. It's not getting through this vein that was completely blocked when they did the surgery and they've had to put six stents into it. Now, we don't know what effect that's going to have. We certainly hope that the pain is going to go away. It also, as many of you, I'm sure thinking right, provided a potential answer to the years and of trying for a second child unsuccessfully. So I think my point is that, as I've said many times and as I say to my clients, we can't just accept that this is unexplained. Or we can't just accept that if you've got a low sperm count the only option is ICSI.
ALWAYS LOOK FOR A REASON
There is a lot that can be done to improve sperm counts. There is a lot that can be done to improve sperm quality. And again, not necessarily with everybody but unless we try unless we look into this, unless we are prepared to be that detective to look to travel upstream and get the answers we wont get answers.
It just made me reflect on so many couples over the years, even before IVF came into the world that haven't become parents and I am so incredibly passionate about this. Fertility really has to be investigated further.
As a woman, you have your hormonal levels checked. You have ultrasound of uterus, and you have the potency of the fallopian tubes tested, as a man a very basic semen analysis which tells us little, purely for signposting to fertility Treatment. I've said that before and Dr Sheryl Homa said the same. It is not about identifying a cause of your fertility issues, It's about identifying which fertility treatment is going to be better.
Interestingly, IVF was developed for women with missing or damaged fallopian tubes initially, as as a way to bypass that and now it is used much much more readily. Again, I'm not anti IVF , I'm very pro it when it's needed. I just feel we can investigate this a little bit further and also if you are having IVF taking steps that actually improve the quality of the sperm is going to be hugely beneficial.
So the sperm count is an example that I've talked about but it goes a lot further. Remember I've said things will remain unexplained If we're not looking in the right places, and if we're looking in the right places, we might just be able to get an explanation.
So I wanted to just bring that to your attention in this first episode in the second season. I've got exciting plans ahead, we have an interview that I've done already, that we're just editing at the moment, but I wanted to let you know that the podcast is back.
WANT TO WORK WITH ME IN THE NEW GROUP PROGRAMME?
I work with people one to one face to face in Nottingham or online all over the world, One to one is not always the right option for everyone whether that's a financial option or not, but what I am working on right developing a group programme.
In it you will be able to access me and to the coaching material on a group level and al have people with you in that group. Now you can get as involved in that group as suits you and discussions and support as you want. But that is something that's coming so I will will open a waiting list for that and if its something that you are interested in you will be able to find details of that on the website.
If you want to get in touch you can get in touch with me at Kat at fertility rewired.com. The podcast is also on YouTube. And you can access that you can subscribe to the channel fertility rewire where you can have you can pop comments in there to me directly. You can contact me by email email@example.com or you could find me on social media which I've been not been very present again, but will be popping in.
Well thanks for your patience. I'm excited to bring more information to you in the future. Take care now.
Relevant podcast links
Dr Sheryl Homa
Sperm - more than just a number
Male factors in fertility