Low sperm count, reduced sperm motility and malformed sperms are main causes for male infertility. There are various biological and environmental causes which affect sperm count, motility and morphology. Many of these causes are explained in ayurveda
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The testes are two glandular organs, which secrete the semen; they are suspended in the scrotum by the spermatic cords. Testes are suspended outside the abdominal cavity in the scrotum,
In ayurveda Acharya Sushruta , while explaining the anatomy of testis has said ” Maamsa asruk kapha medaha prasaadaadwavrushanaha” which means The two testes are made up of musles,blood , fat and their derivatives.
The Scrotum is a cutaneous pouch which contains the testes and parts of the spermatic cords (The spermatic cord is composed of arteries, veins, lymphatics, nerves, and the excretory duct of the testis. These structures are connected together by areolar tissue,).
It is divided on its surface into two lateral portions by a ridge or raphé.(Sushruta explains raphe’ as “seevani” or a stitch like ridge. He has cautioned not to injure it with surgical instruments )Of these two lateral portions the left hangs lower than the right, to correspond with the greater length of the left spermatic cord. The Testes (two egg-shaped structures) remain in the Scrotum, outside the body, where the temperature is about 3 degrees C Cooler than the body internal temperature (27 degrees C. Sperm development in the Testes Requires the Lower Temperature.)
The testis is composed primarily of seminiferous tubules and interstitial cells. Seminiferous tubules are packed closely together. There are approximately 500 tubules in each testis. The cells within the seminiferous tubules are germ cells an sertoli cells.
The germ cells mature into spermatozoa or sperms. The Sertoli cells serve as supporting cells for developing germ cells.
Leydig cells are very important cells that are present in the interstitial space outside the seminiferous tubule. These cells produce testosterone which stimulates the germ cell maturation.
The complex process involved in production of sperms from germ cells is known as spermatogenesis.
Spermatozoa or sperms are first produced at puberty and
spermatogenic activity is maintained into old age. Millions of sperms are produced each day. Millions of sperms are produced each day.
The mature sperms are released into the lumen of seminiferous tubule. The sperms pass into epididymis. (Lying upon the lateral edge of this posterior border is a long, narrow, fiattened body, named the epididymis.), The canal of the epididymis is continued into the vasdeferens which rise up over the brim of the pelvis and passes down to the prostate gland at the base of the urinary bladder. It joins the seminal vesicles to form the ejaculatory ducts. Epididymis serves as sperm conduit and sperm reservoir where sperm acquire motility and fertilizing capacity.
Just prior to ejaculation, the testes are brought close to the abdomen and fluid is rapidly transported through the vas deferens to the ejaculatory duct and subsequently into the urethra.(The urethra passes through the penis and opens to the outside.)
Causes of Low Sperm Count – According to Ayurveda
The causes of low sperm count are very well explained in ayurveda. These are briefly explained below.
Acharya Charaka in his ayurvedic text, mentions the following factors as causes for low quality of semen.
Jaraayaa Chintaaya shukram vyadhibhihi karmakarshanaat |
Kshayam gacchatyanashanaat sthreenaam chaatinishevanaath ||
- Old age
- Over indulgence in sexual act
- Strained relationship.
The shukra dhatu in men diminishes as age advances. Quantity and quality of semen also decreases due to reduced shukra dhatu. In men, the production of male hormone testosterone starts declining after the age 35. This influences the sperms and decrease their count and motility. Thus infertility surfaces as men age. Ayurveda recommends “Vajikarana Therapy” to slow down the ageing process and boost the sperm health in men who are above 30 years.
Worry or anxiety and Grief:
Worry or anxiety cause stress which in turn lead to release of stress hormone. Stress hormone affects the functioning of testosterone and influence sperm health. Yoga and pranayama are of great help to reduce stress and they also boost secretion of happy hormones which increase the effectiveness of testosterone
Bacterial and viral infections, sexually transmitted diseases, diseases of thyroid gland or pituitary gland all influence the strength of sperms. Viral infections like mumps can cauze azospermia or nil sperm count. Immunity boosting herbs like ashwagandha, guduchi or giloy, amla and healthy diet with good lifestyle help to keep diseases at bay
Excessive exercise or physical work lowers testosterone and can cause male infertility. So exercise in moderation considering the strength of body.
A person may become weak by malnutrition or chronic illness. The important nutrients like protein, minerals and vitamins will be very low in body when a person is weak. Sperm count plummets when nutrient levels are low. Eating balanced food and following dinacharya (ayurvedic daily routine) and ritucharya (seasonal regimen) keeps the body strength up.
intermittently always keep us healthy. But fasting for long intervals of time or following a crash diet for weight loss may drastically lower the level of nutrients in body affecting the sperm health.
Over indulgence in sexual act:
Repeated use of an organ or tissue renders it useless. Overuse increases the stress on that organ or tissue and makes it incapable of carrying out its normal function. Same thing applies for masturbation where man ejaculates repeatedly. Thus repeated ejaculations due to over sexual act lower the semen volume, sperm count and motility
Strained relationships increase depression and stress. These two psychological conditions affect the effectiveness of testosterone and its function nose dives. This affects sperm count and sperm motility..
Overheating and Trauma to Testicles can reduce Sperm Count:
Testicles in men secrete male hormones (testosterone) and also help in sperm production. Testes function properly only when they are cooler than rest of the body. Hence anatomically they are structured (hanged outside the body) such that they do not experience the body heat. If testes are subjected to high temperatures, the increased heat can kill the sperms and cause low sperm count.
According ayurveda acharya Sushruta, testicles are made of tissues which are dominant with Kapha dosha and medha dhatu (fat). Kapha and medhas help in production of shukra dhatu, which is the combination of testosterone and semen. Increased heat destroys kapha and medas . This hinders production of shukra dhatu. Thus overheating of testicles can reduce testosterone level.
(For more information read Natural ways to increase sperm count)
Bicycling can cause low sperm count, as testicles and scrotum may get injured during riding. In a study it has been found that men bicycling more than five hours per week had a lower sperm concentration than either sedentary men or those doing other types of exercise. It’s also interesting that the association with the lower sperm counts was not affected by the patient’s age or weight.
Causes of overheating of testicles:-.
There are numerous factors which increase the temperature of testicles. They are
- Wearing tight undergarments.
- Wearing pants with tight skin hugging crotches.
- Taking bath in hot saunas.
- Working in front of hot furnace or in hot climate.
- Keeping lap top on your laps for long hours.
- Soaking in tub bath filled with hot water.
- Sitting for a long time on a cushioned chair.
Overcoming low sperm count by preventing overheating of testicles-
- Wear comfortable supportive cotton undergarments.
- Wear pants which are lose at crotch and do not push testicles inside the body.
- Never sit in hot steam bath or saunas for a long time. If you are sitting in a steam bath chamber place a wet cotton cloth on your scrotum.
- Protect the scrotum with proper heat resisting pants when you work in hot climate or near furnaces.
- Avoid keeping lap tops on laps for long hours. Keep them on lap only when it is inevitable.
- If you are willing to enjoy a tub bath, fill it with luke warm water. By no means use hot water tubs.
- Never sit for long hours on a chair. Make it a habit to get up from chair once in 30 minutes and walk around for 5 minutes to push the heat out of testicular region. This also helps to increase blood circulation.
- Kapha and medhas, which aid normal function of testicles, get vitiated due to overheating. This leads to reduction in sperm production causing low sperm count in men. According to texts of ayurveda dipping scrotum in a mug of cold water,( which is at room temperature) for few minutes helps to normalize kapha and medhas by reducing temperature of testicles. This increases sperm production. The process can be repeated number of times whenever you feel heat in testicular region. Another method to cool testicles is, a thin soft cotton cloth has to be dipped in cold water and is placed on genital area for 3 minutes.
With these methods one can prevent over heating of testicles and overcome low sperm count.
Addictions (vyasana) can decrease sperm count
Cocaine and Marijuana reduce sperm motility and sperm count by as much as 50%.
Most men are aware of the injurious effect of smoking on their well being. Scientific experiments and statistics have shown that smokers lose an average of 10-15 years from their life expectancy.
It is a well known fact that smoking increases the risk of cancer, cardio vascular diseases (heart diseases), strokes etc. Smoking also affects sexual life and fertility health of men. Smoking diminishes lung capacity and impairs blood circulation. This has a negative impact of men’s sexual and reproductive health.
Various studies and statistics have shown that smoking reduces quality and quantity of sperm. Sperm count and sperm motility is lower in smokers than non smokers. Smoking leads to increased count of dead and malformed sperms. Medical research has consistently shown that smoking affect health of sperms and also stops union of sperm with egg. Even the motility or forward movement of sperm is reduced in men who smoke. Smoking increases abnormality in shape and function of sperms. Tobacco reduces the quality of seminal fluid. Seminal fluid contains essential nutrient to keep sperms healthy.
Another important finding of scientific studies is that smoking can damage genetic pattern of sperm. This genetic malformation is passed on to offspring. Genetic malformation also leads to miscarriages. Children who have inherited genetic deformity from their father who smokes, are more susceptible to cancer .
Smoking tobacco accelerates aging process and reduce healthy sperm count. Smoking can also cause erectile dysfunction or impotence and interfere with blood supply to testicles which produce sperm. Studies have shown that smoking can damage sperm DNA, lower sperm cont and reduce their motility. The success rate of IVF plummets when you smoke. Quitting smoking improves the condition and increases sperm count.
Drinking in modeartion may not cause harm. But Alcohol can reduce a man’s testosterone levels, leading to loss of libido. Liver meatbolises Vitamin A which is required for the production of healthy sperms. Alcohol, which directly affects liver interferes with the metabolism of Vitamin A and this affects the quality of sperms. Alcohol is toxic to the testes and can cause improper development of sperms. Alcohol can kill the capacity of testes to produce sperm. Thus alcohol kills man’s sperm count.
Diet and Life Styles: (Ahara Vihara)
The following foods can cause low sperm count according to ayurveda
- Foods which are hot in potency (ushna veerya) – Example Mustard, mustard oil
- Foods which cause indigestion and clog micro channels by producing ama the sticky toxin. Example – fast foods, junk foods, processed foods etc.
- Foods which are low in nutrients can cause male infertility. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies cause low sperm count. Deficiency of Vitamin C, Zinc, selenium etc can reduce sperm count.
- Foods which cause obesity . Some studies have revealed that obesity may be a cause for low sperm count.
- Exposure to pesticides has been implicated in a variety of health complications, including birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and even decreased sperm count. Wash vegetables and fruits very well before consuming.
Stress and anxiety can have a damaging effect on our overall health, including male fertility. Stress can be due to job, family, finance etc. Increased stress reduce testosterone hormone and this in turn reduce quality and quantity of sperms.
Not Exercising (avyayama)
Regular exercise very essential to increase sperm count and motility. Sedentary lifestyles may lead to obesity, diabetes and male infertility.
Obesity Can Cause Low Sperm Count
Obese men who wish to grow their family are not able to do so due to low sperm count and reduced motility. Various research have thrown light on the fact that obese men are at a great chance of encountering low quality and quantity of semen. The main probable causes are listed below.
- Obesity is a condition in which the quantity of body fat exceeds normal limit. This leads to weight gain. Increased fat cells cause imbalance in hormones and affect fertility of men
- Increased fat cells reduce the level of male hormone testosterone and increase the level of estrogen (a female hormone).
- Fat cells also produce another hormone leptin which damages sperm cells and tissues which produce sperms.
- Increased fat cells in testicles cause an insulating effect and increase the temperature inside the testicles. Overheated testicles kill the sperm cells.
- Poor heart function and increased cholesterol which are consequences of obesity, also contribute to low sperm count.
- Obesity leads to erectile dysfunction which is another cause for male infertility.>
Ayurveda view about obesity and low sperm count:
According to principles of ayurveda Medha dhatu (body fat) and Shukra dhatu (semen) are two dhatus listed in sapta dhatus (seven important tissues of body). Both these tissues are made up of “jala” (water) and “Prithvi” (earth) elements. Both are influenced by Kapha Dosha. Vitiation of kapha, jala and prithvi leads to accumulation of fat and imbalance in production of semen. Increased body fat or medha dhatu prevents nutrients to pass on to its successive tissues namely asthi (bone), majja (bone marrow) and shukra (semen). Thus imbalanced doshas, elements and nourishment leads to infertility and impotence in men.
Ayurvedic treatment methods to reduce body weight and increase sperm count:
The cause has to be addressed first. Avoid foods which increase Kapha dosha. Sweets, fats, refined and processed foods, fast foods etc vitiate kapha dosha. Exercise well to balance all vitiated factors. Eat foods which are lite to digest and increase metabolism. Avoid sleeping at day time. Increase physical activity. Consume herbs which act as fat fighters and sperm boosters.
Genetic factors :
- Malformed organs or tissues in male reproductive system.
- Obstruction of semen carrying tubes.
- Persons with 1 extra X chromosome (Normal chromosome in man is 1 X and 1 Y chromosome)
All these genetic malformation may lead to male infertility.
Environmental factors :
Overexposure to toxins, chemicals and infections. Pesticides, hydrocarbons and mumps in adult hood can cause low sperm count. Chronic exposure to heavy metals like lead, arsenic or cadmium can cause low sperm count. Radiations and X-rays affect sperm producing cells.
Vericose vein in the cord of the testicle can cause low sperm count.
Plastic bottles and low sperm count :
Xenoestrogen are a type of synthetic compounds which have estrogenic effect on living organism. These chemicals enter our body through pesticides, use of plastics and plastic bottles, chemicals and other pollutants. Xenoestrogens lower the level of testosterone and reduce sperm count in men. Read Plastic bottles and low sperm count.
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