Friday, 24 March 2017
CausesBy Mayo Clinic Staff
The production of sperm is a complex process and requires normal functioning of the testicles (testes) as well as the hypothalamus and pituitary glands — organs in your brain that produce hormones that trigger sperm production. Once sperm are produced in the testicles, delicate tubes transport them until they mix with semen and are ejaculated out of the penis. Problems with any of these systems can affect sperm production.
Also, there can be problems of abnormal sperm shape (morphology), movement (motility) or function.
However, often the cause of low sperm count isn't identified.
Low sperm count can be caused by a number of health issues and medical treatments. Some of these include:
Varicocele. A varicocele (VAR-ih-koe-seel) is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. It's the most common reversible cause of male infertility. Although the exact reason that varicoceles cause infertility is unknown, it might be related to abnormal testicular temperature regulation. Varicoceles result in reduced quality of the sperm.
Infection. Some infections can interfere with sperm production or sperm health or can cause scarring that blocks the passage of sperm. These include inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis) and some sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea or HIV. Although some infections can result in permanent testicular damage, most often sperm can still be retrieved.
Ejaculation problems. Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of emerging out of the tip of the penis. Various health conditions can cause retrograde or lack of ejaculation, including diabetes, spinal injuries, and surgery of the bladder, prostate or urethra.
Certain medications also might result in ejaculatory problems, such as blood pressure medications known as alpha blockers. Some ejaculatory problems can be reversed, while others are permanent. In most cases of permanent ejaculation problems, sperm can still be retrieved directly from the testicles.
Antibodies that attack sperm. Anti-sperm antibodies are immune system cells that mistakenly identify sperm as harmful invaders and attempt to destroy them.
Tumors. Cancers and nonmalignant tumors can affect the male reproductive organs directly, through the glands that release hormones related to reproduction, such as the pituitary gland, or through unknown causes. Surgery, radiation or chemotherapy to treat tumors can also affect male fertility.
Undescended testicles. During fetal development one or both testicles sometimes fail to descend from the abdomen into the sac that normally contains the testicles (scrotum). Decreased fertility is more likely in men with this condition.
Hormone imbalances. The hypothalamus, pituitary and testicles produce hormones that are necessary to create sperm. Alterations in these hormones, as well as from other systems such as the thyroid and adrenal gland, may impair sperm production.
Defects of tubules that transport sperm. Many different tubes carry sperm. They can be blocked due to various causes, including inadvertent injury from surgery, prior infections, trauma or abnormal development, such as with cystic fibrosis or similar inherited conditions.
Blockage can occur at any level, including within the testicle, in the tubes that drain the testicle, in the epididymis, in the vas deferens, near the ejaculatory ducts or in the urethra.
Chromosome defects. Inherited disorders such as Klinefelter's syndrome — in which a male is born with two X chromosomes and one Y chromosome instead of one X and one Y — cause abnormal development of the male reproductive organs. Other genetic syndromes associated with infertility include cystic fibrosis, Kallmann's syndrome and Kartagener's syndrome.
Celiac disease. A digestive disorder caused by sensitivity to gluten, celiac disease can cause male infertility. Fertility may improve after adopting a gluten-free diet.
Certain medications. Testosterone replacement therapy, long-term anabolic steroid use, cancer medications (chemotherapy), certain antifungal and antibiotic medications, some ulcer medications and other medications can impair sperm production and decrease male fertility.
Prior surgeries. Certain surgeries might prevent you from having sperm in your ejaculate, including vasectomy, inguinal hernia repairs, scrotal or testicular surgeries, prostate surgeries, and large abdominal surgeries performed for testicular and rectal cancers, among others. In most cases, surgery can be performed to either reverse these blockages or to retrieve sperm directly from the epididymis and testicles.
Sperm production or function can be affected by overexposure to certain environmental elements, including:
Industrial chemicals. Extended exposure to benzenes, toluene, xylene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, painting materials and lead might contribute to low sperm counts.
Heavy metal exposure. Exposure to lead or other heavy metals also can cause infertility.
Radiation or X-rays. Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production. It can take several years for sperm production to return to normal. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
Overheating the testicles. Elevated temperatures impair sperm production and function. Although studies are limited and are inconclusive, frequent use of saunas or hot tubs might temporarily impair sperm count.
Sitting for long periods, wearing tight clothing or working on a laptop computer for long stretches of time also might increase the temperature in your scrotum and slightly reduce sperm production.
Health, lifestyle and other causes
Other causes of low sperm count include:
Drug use. Anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength and growth can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to decrease. Use of cocaine or marijuana might reduce the number and quality of your sperm as well.
Alcohol use. Drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels and cause decreased sperm production.
Occupation. Certain occupations might be linked with a risk of infertility, including welding or those associated with prolonged sitting, such as truck driving. However, the data to support these associations is inconsistent.
Tobacco smoking. Men who smoke might have a lower sperm count than do those who don't smoke.
Emotional stress. Severe or prolonged emotional stress, including stress about fertility, might interfere with hormones needed to produce sperm.
Weight. Obesity can impair fertility in several ways, including directly impacting sperm and by causing hormone changes that reduce male fertility.
Sperm testing issues. Lower than normal sperm counts can result from testing a sperm sample that was taken too soon after your last ejaculation; was taken too soon after an illness or stressful event; or didn't contain all of the semen you ejaculated because some was spilled during collection. For this reason, results are generally based on several samples taken over a period of time.
For Women and Men
Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) might raise sexual desire in women going through menopause. In a small study, women saw improvements after taking three 1-gram capsules every day for 2 weeks. It may help improve erectile function in men, too. Studies typically use doses of 900 to 1,000 milligrams two to three times a day.
It can cause insomnia. So don’t take ginseng if you have trouble sleeping. Less common side effects include painful periods for women and diarrhea.
If you are low on sexual energy, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Sex enhancers can have side effects. Discuss your specific situation with your doctor first.
Remember that the FDA does not require supplements to prove that they are safe, effective, or contain what they say on the label. You may want to look for a seal of approval from groups that checks on supplement ingredients. These include United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) and NSF International.
Goal #1: Reducing Saturated Fat Intake
Your basic goal will be to lower the amount of saturated fat in your diet to 8 to 10 percent of your total calories.
Avoid whole milk; try skim or nonfat instead.
No eat fatty cuts of meat; try leaner cuts and fish.
Not eat chicken or turkey with the skin still on.
Goal #2: Cutting Down on Fats Overall
Keep calories from all fats to less than 30 percent of your daily calorie intake.
This may mean:
Learning new ways of cooking, such as baking or broiling, instead of frying
Using low-fat or fat-free salad dressings
Avoiding high-fat additions to foods — for instance, butter and sour cream on your potatoes
Using small amounts of spreads such as margarine
Goal #3: Cutting Back on Cholesterol
Keep your cholesterol intake to below 300 milligrams a day. Here’s how:
Cut back on meat and dairy products.
Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Avoid egg yolks and liver.
Goal #4: Cutting Back on Salt
Hypertension is a risk factor for stroke — and salt is directly related to high blood pressure. One way to help reduce your risk of stroke is to keep your salt intake to less than 2,400 milligrams a day. Try using other kinds of salt-free seasonings such as herbs, spices, or fruit juices (lemon or orange) to flavor foods.
Diet Challenges After Stroke
When you’re in stroke recovery, you may not have the energy or desire to cook or even eat. Some people find it hard to chew and swallow after a stroke. These problems require your doctor’s help. You might need to be treated for depression or get a referral to see a professional who can help you relearn how to enjoy eating again.
Here are some ideas that might make it easier to eat a healthy diet during stroke recovery:
Plan to eat your “big” meal at a time when you have energy.
Keep bags of washed, cut fruit and veggies for quick, healthy meals.
Try soft foods such as scrambled eggs, cooked whole-grain cereals, yogurt, soup, and applesauce.
Thursday, 2 March 2017
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Testicle pain has a number of possible causes. The testicles are very sensitive, and even a minor injury can cause testicle pain or discomfort. Testicle pain might arise from within the testicle itself or from the coiled tube and supporting tissue behind the testicle (epididymis).
Sometimes, what seems to be testicle pain is caused by a problem that starts in the groin, abdomen or somewhere else — for example, kidney stones and some hernias can cause testicle pain. The cause of testicle pain can't always be identified.
Causes of testicle pain or pain in the testicle area can include:
Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage caused by diabetes)
Drug side effect, such as certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs
Epididymitis (testicle inflammation)
Gangrene (specifically, a type of gangrene called Fournier's gangrene)
Henoch-Schonlein purpura (blood vessel inflammation)
Hydrocele (fluid buildup that causes swelling of the scrotum)
Idiopathic testicular pain (unknown cause)
Orchitis (inflamed testicle)
Prostatitis (infection or inflammation of the prostate)
Spermatocele (fluid buildup in the testicle)
Testicle injury or blow to the testicles
Testicular torsion (twisted testicle)
Undescended testicle (also called cryptorchidism)
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum)
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