Sperm And Exposure To Toxins

Couples wishing to get pregnant take care of their bodies and adjust their lifestyle and environment in or order to optimize the chances of conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby. Among the list of Do's and Don'ts for couples trying to conceive is the avoidance of toxins.

Toxins and Fertility

Exposure to toxins can lead to infertility in both males and females, increase the incidence of miscarriage or stillbirth, and cause health complications for the baby.

Among the most well-known toxins for would-be parents to avoid are the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, tobacco, and marijuana. Prescription drugs for parents-to-be to be wary of include anabolic steroids, chemotherapy drugs, some antibiotics, and anesthetic agents. Toxins to avoid at home and in the workplace include pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hydrocarbons (i.e., vehicle emissions), chemical solvents (i.e., acetone, paint, petroleum distillates), cleaning solvents, smoke from burning synthetic or plastic-based compounds, and more. Even foods can contain toxins harmful to fertility, such as alcoholic drinks, contaminated meats or produce, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and certain food additives.

Toxins and Sperm

Exposure to toxins has been shown to effect sperm quality in a number of significant ways. Sperm abnormalities that can result from exposure to toxins include low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and abnormal sperm shape or morphology. Erectile Dysfunction or impotence is another potential side effect of exposure to toxins. Further, toxins can cause chromosomal damage leading to male infertility, miscarriage or genetic defects in the baby.

Smoking can also reduce men's sex drive since carbon monoxide, an ingredient found in cigarettes, is known to reduce male testosterone levels - testosterone being the male hormone that fuels the sex drive.

Fertility and the "ART" Approach to Toxin Exposure

A - Avoid: Where possible, toxins should be avoided. First and foremost, all couples who are planning to conceive are urged to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. The good news is that since sperm production takes approximately 90 days, meaning that sperm get "refreshed," even longtime male smokers can minimize damage to sperm by stopping smoking three or more months before trying to get pregnant.

R - Reduce: If they can't be avoided, reduce exposure to toxins as much as possible. Be aware of chemicals in your home or work environments, and do what you can to identify and then remove these toxins.

T - Testing: If a couple is having trouble conceiving, or if men suspect that exposure to toxins may have damaged their sperm, they should undergo semen analysis. In this procedure, a sample of semen to sent to a lab where it is analyzed. The analysis will report upon:

•· Total number of sperm in the sample (count)

•· Number of sperm per milliliter of semen (concentration)

•· Amount of semen produced (volume)

•· Percentage of moving sperm (motility)

•· Shape of sperm (morphology)

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