When sperm counts have halved in Australian men – we have an issue
Sperm counts have halved in Australian men over the last 30 years says Amie Skilton.
A sperm count morphology where 4% of the sperm are considered healthy is now a good result and knowing it’s the health of the sperm which drives the health of the pregnancy and the placenta Ms Skilton says male fertility is an increasingly important health issue.
Ms Skilton will present Genetic Polymorphisms and Male Fertility at this year’s ACNEM Conference.
Ms Skilton knows fertility and health are inextricably linked.
“The very essence of fertility gives a strong indication of the cellular health of the individual and sperm health in men has the potential to reveal system-wide issues in the person such as nutritional deficiencies, immunological challenges, unhealthy environmental influences and oxidative stress,” she said.
Ms Skilton said underpinning all the usual factors affecting male fertility lies an individual’s SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms.
“Identifying a prospective father’s SNPs offers an opportunity to optimise preconception recommendations and interventions and improve fertility outcomes.
“Sperm are vulnerable to oxidative stress and there are many causes of oxidative stress from our western lifestyle. Dietary factors are significant influences on sperm health and so is the amount of alcohol consumed and the general health of the male,” she said.
Male fertility a major issue
Ms Skilton said she sees a lot of patients with infertility problems and many people aren’t aware the standard Aussie diet doesn’t help the overall health of the average male and add to this the fact men continue to drink alcohol when they’re trying to have a baby.
“The hubby might need a bit more encouragement not to drink those beers if he and his partner are trying to have a baby,” she said.
“There’s a lot of evidence showing us that alcohol affects the sperm up to four months prior to conception and foetal alcohol syndrome can be noted in the foetus.”
Ms Skilton said for 120 days of the four months leading up to ovulation and ejaculation – and ultimately conception – men need to really step up and take care of themselves as it will affect their sperm. She adds our current lifestyle doesn’t help with “guys wearing their smart phone on their hips.”
“The earlier men start looking at their health and their sperm count, the better,” she said.
“I like to get couples six months prior to starting to try for a baby so we can start them detoxing. The woman may have been on the pill for 10 or 15 years and we need six months, or four months as a bare minimum, to get her hormones working again as they should be.”
Scaremongering about fertility in women leads to IVF
Ms Skilton said scare mongering regarding female fertility is rife.
“You see stories saying women from 35 to 40 years old won’t be fertile and they’re ovaries are in the toilet. Then everyone gets fairly indoctrinated into IVF as they look at the success rate. But I would love to see IVF clinics doing what we’re doing, putting couples on a 4-6 month detox program and allowing their natural fertility and health to get back on track.”
“Even if you can force a pregnancy, you’re overriding nature’s safety valve,” she said.
“I think it’s medically not right and it can create future problems. We need to see a more integrative approach incorporating the latest developments in the area of fertility and health.”
Fertility and health are linked
Ms Skilton pointed out fertility problems and overall health go hand in hand.
“If you have a sperm problem you need to look wider. There are genetic dispositions – for example, if you have the MTHFR SNP – which indicates our ability to detoxify – then you’ll need to get some help detoxing and methylating. If you don’t do this, you’re much more likely to have a child with cognitive or learning difficulties.”
Ms Skilton said it’s crucial to work on the fertility of both parties male and female.
“Sometimes patients start doing all the right things and everything falls into place and at other times its necessary to look deeper and see what else is happening with the patient’s lifestyle.”
Amie Skilton will present at the 2019 ACNEM Conference on Saturday 25th at 12.30pm titled: Genetic Polymorphisms in Male Infertility.
This presentation forms part of a CPD points offer with the RACGP. As such, ACNEM is supplying delegates with some pre-reading including: ‘Oxidative stress and male infertility—a clinical perspective’ which can be accessed here: https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/14/3/243/683505
Ms Skilton has a Diploma in Botanical Medicine, an Advanced Diploma in Naturopathy and a BHSc in Complementary Medicine. She has been in clinical practice for more than 18 years and has worked concurrently for BioCeuticals.