Turek on men's health
U.S. News Top Doc

Award-winning urologist - and pioneer in Men's Health - Dr. Paul Turek blogs weekly about issues such as infertility, vasectomy and vasectomy reversal, sexual and hormonal dysfunction and more. Keep up with the latest on this fascinating field of medicine.

Better Baby Batter



A check box for male fertility
Go ahead and check off this box! (Courtesy: mi9.com)

I’m impressed. Have to admit, I’ve been following the tabloids recently and I like what I see: real men are letting it all hang out. Hugh Jackman, crooner Michael Buble, the Brit Anthony McPartlin, and writer David Vienna are all talking about it. Their true-to-life, down-to-earth, lay-it-on-the-line feelings about the troubled path they’ve taken to become fathers.

Not in character for men to talk about infertility? Rubbish. Wouldn’t you rather have them onboard instead of overboard on this issue? Kudos to them and to others who speak up on an issue normally dealt with in silent desperation.

Be Prophylactic

Here’s my question: Dudes, why get blindsided when this is avoidable? There are ways to know before you go. The Male Fertility Check in my office is a single office visit, complete with a lengthy history about everything you put in, or that gets near, your body regularly. It also includes a brief and painless (but detailed) physical exam, an assessment of your baby batter, and then a discussion of lifestyle, diet and other issues that can help you put buns in the oven. I’ve been told that it’s a “helluvalot” easier to see me than going to your dentist for a checkup, and the conversation is a lot more interesting for most men. Compare: “Do any of your teeth hurt? “ to “Can I help you with your erections?”

Why Be Fertile?

Being fertile is not just about spreading seed. It reflects on many aspects of life and health. In fact, in young men, it may be good marker of not only flowering fatherhood but also of overall health. It takes a lot of things to go right to keep an engine running at top speed, close to 1000 sperm/heartbeat. And, clearly, infertility has been associated with a host of lifestyle and health issues. For goodness sakes, I am the guy trying to convince the world that men should have a dipstick or “biomarker,” early in life well before the pains, lumps and bumps take over and cause them to crawl to the doctor. Oh, and what, pray tell, is better than prevention or early intervention for good health? Nothing.

A Seminal Idea

So here it is. The Know Before You Go Male Fertility Check. Offered here to all men thinking of popping the question, tying the knot, going ball and chain, getting hitched, taking the plunge, or being dragged to the altar. Simple, painless, and mighty informative. Don’t get stuck in the traps with a bad club. Hear the words of Muhammad Ali: “I run on the road, long before I dance under the lights.”


6 Responses to “Better Baby Batter”

  1. Claire

    Dr. Turek,

    I am wondering about heat exposure and sperm production. My husband is an athlete–a serious cyclist in the Southern (read: hot!) part of the country. When we first started trying to conceive, he was riding sometimes as much as 200 miles a week as part of his training, with hours in cycling shorts in the heat. You guessed it: when we were unsuccessful, we discovered that he had severe oligospermia and an fsh of 18. Other hormone levels (LH, testosterone, thyroid) were normal. He cut back on cycling somewhat, and 6 months later, his sperm count was still about the same: 250,000 with good motility but poor morphology. We have been referred for either donor IUI or IVF with ICSI. First we are going to get more testing done. I know that you can’t comment on our specific situation in detail. However, I know that heat exposure can negatively impact fertility. I am wondering: is it theoretically possible for exercise-related heat exposure to cause this degree of infertility? I’m kind of wondering if we should do another analysis in a few more months to give him more time to recover or if we should have expected to see more improvement by now. My ovaries aren’t getting any younger!

    Reply
    • Paul Turek, MD

      Lindsey, I am a firm believer in the heat hurts sperm production issue…I published the only study that examined the effects of hot tubs and baths on sperm counts (http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2007/03/5541/hot-tubs-hurt-fertility-ucsf-study-shows)

      However, most heat exposures that impair fertility are reversible, flus and tubs being the most common. Also, the effects of bicycling are really quite anecdotal at this point and the mechanism is not at all clear. Furthermore, looking at some of the details that you provided (FSH 17, Sperm count <1 million/mL) suggest a varicocele, hormonal or genetic causes of infertility. He should definitely be examined by a specialist and these three conditions should be ruled out. I would not wait.

      Reply
  2. Claire

    Thank you Dr. Turek! We will follow up on these possibilities ASAP.

    Reply
  3. Al

    Dr turek, u mentioned above about varicocoele. Can this cause totally testicular failure?? Or just low sperm count??

    Reply
    • Paul Turek, MD

      Al, great question. From 40-80% of men with infertility will have a clinical varicocele, yet most men with varicoceles are perfectly normally fertile. I have azoospermic men in whom a varicocele has been repaired with a return of normal, natural fertility. Many others, however, do not benefit from repair. I believe that it can be a cause of total testicular failure, but only rarely. Other reasons must be examined first.

      Reply
      • Al

        Thanks Dr Turek,
        My husband had a unsuccessful TESA 6 months ago with no explanation given. At the time I asked our fertility specialist about a varicocele another specialist had mentioned and was told that this would not caused the failure. I know the jury is still out on the effects of varicocele but as we were given no explanation as to his azoospermia and told that “some people are born this way” I am just trying to find some sort of explanation.

        Reply

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