If a couple are unlucky enough to be referred for fertility testing - and that's about 1 in 6 of couples - there tends to be a fairly relaxed approach to male fertility testing. After all, with IVF or ICSI procedures, it only needs one sperm to fertilise the egg. But if the sperm is damaged, then fertilisation may not occur.
It's estimated that at least 30% of fertility difficulties lie with the man alone and yet male fertility testing is still relatively basic. Normally male fertility testing looks at 3 factors - volume, motility and morphology - there needs to be enough sperm, that are moving in the right direction and are well formed.
And the good news is that sperm quality can be improved by lifestyle factors: a healthy diet which is low in sugar and processed foods, vitamin supplements, regular sex, keeping the genitals cool and avoiding alcohol, smoking and any other toxic substances.
But can more be done to test for sperm quality? Yes. The SpermComet test is a more sensitive test designed to measure DNA damage in individual sperm.
There are a couple of instances in which a more in-depth testing of male fertility factors can be helpful:
When undertaking assisted reproductive techniques it can be useful to know about the quality of sperm in order to select the technique which has the best chance of success. For example, if a test shows moderate sperm DNA damage, IVF may to the way to go, whereas a test result with higher DNA damage may indicate that going directly to ICSI will offer the best chance of a pregnancy.
Sadly miscarriage is something that about 1 in 4 women will experience, and where there is recurrent miscarriage a sperm DNA test may provide useful information. There can be a number of reasons for recurrent miscarriage, one of which is sperm DNA quality. And according to Lewis Fertility Testing who designed the sperm comet test, "Recurrent miscarriage following IVF or ICSI can be caused by sperm DNA damage."
So, if you've experienced recurrent miscarrige, or are about to embark on assisted reproductive techniques, or if time is running out and you want as much useful information about your fertility as you can gather, then a SpermComet test might be useful.
Testing is available in Edinburgh and if you'd like to know more, contact Doris Wylie on 07724 197627.
And for more general information on fertility click here and discover how reproductive reflexology can help support your fertility journey.
"We are lucky to get half the nutrition our parents and grandparents did in the Fifties and Sixties," said Amanda Williams, managing director of Cytoplan, a UK distributor of the "food-state" supplements in an article in The Independent today.
Over the last 60 years the food chain has changed out of all recognition, becoming industrialised and chemicalised, and causing depletion of the nutrient levels in the soil. This, combined with an increasing trend towards food production becoming more and more processed, makes it ever more difficult to be sure that our food is providing all the nutrients we require.
Our body is designed to live on fresh fruit and vegetables and the more natural the food, the greater the benefit it provides to the body. We need our food to provide essential vitamins and minerals or we need to find alternative sources of these essential elements to good health in the form of supplements.
But are supplements all they’re cracked up to be?
Most vitamin supplements are synthetic and as such may have limited benefits: they do not contain the complex mixture of factors that are available from nature, and may also contain fillers or binders and artificial flavourings. Some claim that these synthetic vitamin supplements act as free radicals in the body increasing toxicity.
The best way to top up your mineral and vitamin reserve is through a varied diet, high in (organic) fresh fruit and vegetables, white meat and whole grains, but if you feel you need a supplement, then seek out food-state supplements. These are nutrients which are combined with other appropriate food bases to ensure they come complete with the phytonutrients and associated food factors that are necessary for optimal absorption and use in the body.
The advantages of this more natural approach to supplements are:
1. They are easy for the body to absorb because the particles are smaller
2. They are more effective because they provide nutrients in a state as close as possible to food
3. They avoid increasing the toxic load on the body because they contain no GMO materials, synthetic chemicals, fungicides or herbicides
And if you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to get all the vitamins and minerals you need to improve fertility, in as natural a way as possible.
Looking for suppliers? Just Google food-state supplement suppliers, but be warned, they're expensive, very expensive!
Your body naturally strives to be in a state of balance and it's constantly adjusting to maintain that state of balance: your breathing, temperature, blood pressure, blood volume, fluid levels, cell life cycles, hormone levels and a multitude of other adjustments are being made by your body every minute. This balance is created from a dynamic process that responds to internal and external factors: what you eat, your level of physical activity, stress, environmental pollution, and a whole range of factors.
And your body needs to be in balance with your mental and emotional state - thought patterns and emotions have a physical impact – your thoughts and feelings can affect posture and chemical responses in the body: the stress response is a great example of how mind and emotions can affect physical state.
So here are a few ways to maximise your fertility, naturally:
When it comes to diet, go for organic, unprocessed, colourful food. If possible, cook from scratch to avoid additives, and have a wide variety of food. Avoid white or grey foods such as white bread, pasta and rice and avoid diet foods as they are likely to contain artificial sweeteners such Aspartame. Cut out crackers, pastries, cakes and chocolate as they are likely to contain transfats which are linked to lower fertility and avoid products with MSG such as chinese meals, flavoured crisps, meat seasonings and packaged soups.
Alcohol, caffeine, smoking, recreational drugs, and unnecessary medications are all no no's. Avoid stress or develop powerful coping strategies to deal with stress - try meditation to help detox the mind and take the edge off negative mindsets.
Avoid the gym and excessive exercise (long runs, rows, etc). Walking is great exercise and extremely beneficial, especially if you walk in a natural environment. Go for natural forms of exercise such as yoga and if possible find a fertility yoga class. Muscle building exercise diverts testosterone from the reproductive organs to the muscles. Avoid cycling and swimming.
Ensure A Natural Environment
Check your house for cleaning products - many of these contain toxic chemicals. Many of these chemicals were tested in the 1950's and 60's and not in the more stringent health criteria that exist today. Try cleaning your house with lemon juice and baking of soda or buy natural products from your health food store. If you feel like being a bit more creative, you can go online and discover how to make your own cleaning products.
And that goes for beauty and personal care products for hair, body and personal hygiene. Check online to see if you can find more natural versions of your beauty and personal care products.
Laptops should not be kept on laps and mobiles should not be kept in pockets - they give off low levels of radiation. If possible avoid low level radiation from TV, VDU, digital clocks and electric blankets and avoid living near pylons, radio stations/masts, phone exchanges for the same reasons.
Live A Natural Lifestyle
Be creative - draw or paint, sew, bake, write or do whatever you do to get your creative juices going. Being creative connects mind, body and emotion to your desire to create a baby. Look at your life and strip it back to the bare essentials. Look at your life and how you spend your time and ask yourself whether it gives you joy or if it's just there to fill in the time. Go for joy!
To help you work your way through this more easily, write down a list of all the things you'd like to do to establish a more natural lifestyle. Then work out what are the three easiest things to do and do them. Then work out what are the three most impactful things and work out a plan for implementing them. Then knock of the rest of the list at a rate of three items a week.
I hope you have joy in living a more natural life and maximising your fertility, naturally.
If you'd like to conceive, I'd ask you to look at all the highs and lows of your fertility journey. I know you'd do anything to get pregnant, so I'd like you to ask yourself ... are you trying too hard?
Trying might not be a useful thing to do, in fact it may actually hinder all your best efforts, because trying is about : endeavour, difficulty, becoming annoyed – or so the dictionary says. Trying is all about chasing after your dream rather than waiting to receive it. Trying is all about forcing your heart's desire into being rather than allowing it to materialise in it's own good time. Trying is about control rather than being in a state of flow.
Are you chasing your dream of having a baby rather than being ready to receive with open arms? May I suggest that this might not be the best strategy. And here’s why ...
Imaging you were to go fishing. If you were to go fishing, you’d pack your kit – everything you need to land that prizewinning fish. You’d pick the perfect spot where you know the fish are likely to be. You’d set your bait and cast your line and then you’d sit back and relax and wait for the fish to bite. And while you’re waiting for the fish to bite you’d likely just enjoy being out in the fresh air, in the peace and quiet, giving yourself time to settle and release, and letting your worries and cares wash away.
What you wouldn’t do is: jump into the car with no equipment. Then stop at any old spot without checking first to find out how the fishing was. And race into the water fully clothed, trying to catch the fish with your bare hands! That would just be ridiculous, wouldn't it?
The very act of “trying”, creates a level of stress that is more likely to take you away from what you want instead of closer to it. You effectively create obstacles that wouldn’t otherwise exist as a consequence of your desire to increase your chances of getting pregnant. You begin to get in your own way! Can I just say that again, "You begin to get in your own way"!
This is not always an easy concept to process when your sole goal in life is to get pregnant, so please give it some thought.
May I suggest that you might choose to let go, stop "trying", chill and just wait for the fish to bite. And if you need some help with your fertility journey, check out how Fertility Reflexology could help.
If you want more tips like this, you’ll find them in the Free Baby Making Mindset Club, just go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/1422257428013810/
I'm so excited (and scared), I've just launched a new business. It's called the Baby Making Mindset Club and it's designed to help women who are trying to conceive to stay positive and help them smooth out the emotional rollercoaster that can accompany trying for a baby.
It's taken a few false starts and I've had a huge struggle with the technology (inter-anything has me bamboozled), but I've managed it.
I've designed the club so that the ladies join a group and can then get lots of support from each other (and me of course) when they need it. And they'll also get an opportunity to have their burning questions answered, plus, each month I'll be running a Mindset Masterclass to help with many of the common mindset and emotional challenges that go with trying to conceive.
It's going to be great, and the format allows me to keep the cost down - it's only £1 to join for the first month and then £9.99 every month afterwards - less than the cost of a WEEKLY latte! And they can leave the club whenever they want - hopefully because they're pregnant and don't need the support any more!
So, please wish me luck. It's a wonderful cause and I'm hoping I'll be able to make a real difference in people's lives.
And I'd be delighted if you'd spread the word ......
More information about the Baby Making Mindset Club can be found at:
And, I'm offering a free e-book: