Sperm counts have been falling amongst Western European and North American men for most of the last century. Whilst we believe environmental pollution is responsible to a large degree, it is also widely recognised that lifestyle choices can considerably affect an individual count. Factors such as diet, exercise, stress and overwork can alter the quality and quantity of sperm , whilst the use of alcohol, cigarettes and other recreational drugs may damage or limit sperm production.
A sperm count is actually a series of complex technical measurements looking at several factors; below are the criteria set out by the World Health Organisation, which provides a definition of a ‘normal’ sperm count:
- the concentration of spermatozoa should be at least 20 million per ml.
- the total volume of semen should be at least 2ml.
- the total number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate should be at least 40 million.
- at least 75 per cent of the spermatozoa should be alive (it is normal for up to 25 per cent to be dead).
- at least 30 per cent of the spermatozoa should be of normal shape and form. (This is known as morphology)
- at least 25 per cent of the spermatozoa should be swimming with rapid forward movement.
- at least 50 per cent of the spermatozoa should be swimming forward, even if only sluggishly. (These two last criteria make up the parameter known as motility)
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine has been shown to improve both the quantity and quality of sperm, and men with subfertility can benefit from Chinese Medicine just as much as women. Acupuncture can also make a difference in cases of lowered fertility due to previous illness( eg. mumps), trauma, or undescended testes.
Herbs can be useful when it is difficult to attend the clinic for appointments, as communication regarding progress can be done via email.