Entries in Sperm (15)


Study: Men Who Watch TV 20 Hours a Week Have Lower Sperm Count

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here’s yet another reason for coach potato guys to turn off the TV and start exercising: a new study shows that men who watch 20 hours of TV a week had sperm counts significantly lower than guys who watched less TV.

Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, led a recent study that measured TV’s effect on sperm by asking 189 young men, aged 18 to 22, about their TV watching and exercise habits.  The subjects were also asked about other habits, such as smoking and diet, and if they had any reproductive health conditions or suffered from stress.

Chavarro found that men who sat in front of the tube for 20 hours or more a week had sperm counts 44 percent lower than men who watched less TV.

Researchers say the reason why TV was associated with a lower sperm count is unclear, and it may be that TV is a signal for other factors.

The study also found that men who exercised 15 or more hours a week also had higher sperm counts than their less active male counterparts.  The researchers noted that this was only among men whose exercise routine was considered moderate to vigorous.

“The associations of TV watching and physical activity with sperm counts were independent of each other,” Chavarro said.

"What we cannot rule out entirely is that our finding for TV watching is specific to TV or sedentariness in general," he added.

“Guys, turn off the TV and put on the running shoes.  Adopting a less sedentary lifestyle may have a positive impact on sperm counts,” Dr. Chavarro advised.

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Woman Anonymously Sues FDA for Right to Free Sperm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- An Oakland, Calif., woman and her long-term female partner wanted to start a family.  But she didn't want to have heterosexual intercourse, nor did she want to use a medical intermediary -- like a sperm bank or doctor -- and pay a fee to get pregnant.

Instead, she wanted to use a free sperm sample from a man she had chosen, and inseminate herself.

However, Food and Drug Administration regulations state that "any establishment that performs one or more manufacturing steps" for donating sperm samples -- from producing a sample, having it analyzed, storing it, to providing it to a recipient -- must register with the agency and get tested for communicable diseases that may be transmitted through artificial insemination.

These regulations may also apply to uncompensated donors, like the one she and her partner sought out.

After the recent cease order issued by the FDA to Trent Arsenault, a free sperm donor from Acampo, Calif., ordering him to stop "manufacturing" and supplying couples with sperm who are seeking to get pregnant, the woman wanted to err on the side of caution.

As a result, she is suing, under the name Jane Doe, the commissioner of the FDA and the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claiming its regulations violate her rights to privacy for telling her how she should be allowed to conceive a child.

"This means the FDA can reach into your bedroom and tell you how to procreate," said her lawyer, Amber Abbasi, chief counsel for regulatory affairs at government accountability advocacy organization Cause of Action.  "The FDA taking the position that donors, even when there's no commercial element, are 'an establishment,' just like a sperm bank and have to register.  This is a serious burden on the reproductive freedoms of both the recipient and the donor."

Abbasi said her client wanted to obtain fresh donor sperm from an individual she selected and implant it herself in a process known as intracervical artificial insemination -- injecting the semen into her cervix -- using a syringe, which does not require medical supervision.

According to the lawsuit, Doe felt it was important for the biological father to be present in her child's life, if he or she so desired.  Doe did not want to visit a sperm bank for an anonymous sample, a process noted to be "costly and burdensome" for couples looking to get pregnant.

Doe had selected a donor and did a review on his personal and medical history before attempting to conceive through intracervical insemination, said the suit.  She did get pregnant, but she miscarried.

Doe wants to try again, but is concerned that "her choices of conception partner and method of conception are directly barred by FDA regulations," and is worried she will be charged with a federal crime if she opts to get pregnant in the way that she wants to, according to the lawsuit.

Doe's suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on July 2.  Abbasi said the FDA has not responded, and no court date has been set yet.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sperm Donor Has Fathered 87 Kids the Natural Way

Courtesy Ed Houben(NEW YORK) -- Ed Houben, a unique kind of hands on sperm donor who sleeps with women to help them conceive naturally, has so far recorded fathering 87 children, with five more kids on the way.

Houben, 42, looks more like the Dutch historian that he is rather than a sex machine, something that he readily admits.  He also admits that he “barely had sex” when he began donating his sperm a decade ago.

“Ten years ago, I was not exactly David Hasselhoff in Baywatch,” he confessed to ABC News by phone from his home in Maastricht, Holland.

Houben initially donated his sperm the traditional clinical way at a sperm bank, but soon reached the bank’s legal limit for donations.  He then went private, offering his services on the Internet.  And like many of the online donors, he also became an experienced practitioner in “natural insemination” -- in other words, sex.

“From my own experience, statistically natural insemination is faster,” Houben says, referring to records that back his claim.  “If people are coming all the way from Italy, they don’t want to be trying for three years.”

Houben points out that while it’s easy to accuse donors of looking for cheap sex, most of the women he sleeps with aren’t people he would choose as sexual partners.

“This isn’t Heidi Klum coming round and saying: ‘Let’s do it’,” he says.  “It’s genuine people who I would never want to hurt.  I have a good old fashioned Catholic guilt feeling and I would be a candidate for therapy if I did this for the wrong reasons.”

“In the old days I would gladly travel,” he says, “but my job has changed and I have to be around much more.  Now people to come to me.”  He still makes exceptions, however, if his recipients are entering a peak fertile period.

And they come from all over the world.  Houben claims biological offspring in Australia, Israel, Britain, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium as well as Holland.  His oldest child is 9 while the youngest is a newborn.

He is by no means a world record holder.  Houben says he once watched an episode of Oprah about a man who had fathered 200, a number he says he’ll never catch.  But he has been called Europe’s most prolific sperm donor, and he’s happy to accept the title.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maryland Bill Sets Rules for Frozen Eggs, Sperm

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- A proposed bill in the Maryland legislature would make it illegal to use a dead person’s sperm or eggs to reproduce without a notarized agreement from the donor.  If the bill is passed, violators could face a $1,000 fine for a first offense.

The bill aims to clarify a legal gray area created by in vitro fertilization, a procedure introduced in the late 1970s that allows women to become pregnant using frozen sperm and eggs donated months, even years earlier. It would also allow children born within two years of a biological parent’s death to receive inheritance, as long as the parent consented.

Just this week, U.S. Supreme Court justices were divided on whether twins conceived with frozen sperm and born 18 months after their father’s death were eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits, the Baltimore Sun reported.

“Nobody knows what’s enforceable, what’s conscionable or what makes sense,” Sen. Dolores Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat who sponsored the bill, told the Sun.

The first report of post-mortem sperm retrieval dates to 1980, and involved a 30-year-old man who was left brain dead after a car accident, according to the journal Human Reproduction. In 2010, Missy Evans of Bedford, Texas, retrieved sperm from the body of her 21-year-old son Nikolas in hope of becoming pregnant with her own grandchild.

In the 1990s, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill banning the use of sperm from deceased donors entirely -- legislation later vetoed as an intrusion into parents’ private decisions, the Sun reported. The issue has remained largely untouched until now.

The bill applies only to donors known by the person wishing to conceive, such as a widow hoping to conceive with her late husband’s sperm. It does not apply to anonymous sperm and egg donors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dietary Fat Linked to Low Sperm Count, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Diets high in saturated fat are bad for waistlines, but they can also have a negative impact below the waist.  They may lower sperm count and sperm concentration, according to a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School collected semen samples from 99 mostly overweight or obese men and assessed their diets by asking them how often over the previous year they had certain foods and beverages.

They found that eating a lot of saturated fat was associated with a lower total sperm count and concentration.  Diets high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats -- the fats commonly found in fish and plant oils -- were associated with better-quality semen, meaning the sperm cells were of a better size and shape.  The study did not determine what particular kinds of saturated fats were linked to sperm count.

The study's lead author, Dr. Jill Attaman, now a reproductive endocrinologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, said the study could lead to a better understanding of how lifestyle factors affect male fertility.

"There are few clearly identifiable lifestyle modifications that can be made to optimize natural fertility, especially for males," Attaman told ABC News in an email.  "This is the first report of a relation between specific dietary fats and semen quality."

Experts not involved with the study have different opinions on the role diet plays in male fertility.  Some say the research opens up an important door to future studies, while others say there are factors that play a much bigger role in fertility.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sperm Test to Hit Drugstore Shelves

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A home sperm test is set to join dozens of female fertility predictors on drug store shelves this spring.

Walgreen’s and CVS are already selling the sperm-counting kit, called SpermCheck Fertility, online. Now they’re banking on men -- and their mates -- favoring a quick pick-up at the drug store over a trip to the urologist.

“There is nothing like it on the shelf,” Maeve Egner of Fusion Marketing, the company hired to help market SpermCheck, told Bloomberg. “It’s plugging a gap.”

The $40 test is set to hit stores in April. To use it, a man mixes his semen with a solution in the kit and drops it onto a test strip. A reddish line means the sperm count is above 20 million per milliliter, which is considered normal. A negative test shows no color and means the man should, “should consult a physician about a complete fertility evaluation,” according to the kit’s instructions.

Studies have found that SpermCheck Fertility correctly counted sperm 96 percent of the time compared with laboratory sperm-counting methods. But some doctors say sperm count is only one aspect of male fertility.

“There are four major things we look for,” said Dr. James Goldfarb, a fertility specialist at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland: The number of sperm; their shape; their mobility; and the volume of the ejaculate. “This test only measures one thing.”

While a low sperm count may signal a problem, Goldfarb said a count of 15 million per milliliter -- considered “low normal” by the latest criteria -- can be more than enough if the other three fertility factors are in place.

“The biggest risk of this test is that a guy who gets a very low sperm count might panic and end up getting more intervention than he really needed,” said Goldfarb. “It might reassure some couples, but it might scare some couples, too.”

Sperm counts can vary widely from week to week, Goldfarb said. So a man who rings in at 15 million per milliliter one week could hit 40 million the next. If the sperm count stays low, however, there are options.

“First we would look for anatomical problems,” said Goldfarb, describing varicose veins in the scrotum or blockages to the penis that thwart sperm release. “Then we can look at hormonal things…If the problem can’t be found or corrected, the simplest solution is to concentrate sperm and do intrauterine insemination. That way, there are more sperm getting closer to the fallopian tubes.”

And if that doesn’t work, in vitro fertilization allows a single sperm to fertilize an egg.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man's Sperm Still Potent After 20 Years

File photo. Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Who knew that something frozen back in the 1980s would produce so much joy two decades later?

In 1987, Richard Pott was 21 and suffering from testicular cancer. Doctors at the time recommended that he freeze his sperm in the event he wanted to have children down the road.

That road popped up not long ago when Pott and his wife, Rebecca, tried to conceive a second child. When the usual methods failed, Mrs. Pott said she and her husband turned to his ''rainy day sperm'' from 1987.  Through in vitro fertilization, three embryos were made and frozen before doctors transferred them to the womb.

This "double freezing" finally led to Vivienne Pott, now 13 months. One day, she can say she was the product of the oldest sperm ever to create a child in Britain.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Testicle Zap May Be New Form of Birth Control

Michael Abbey/Getty Images(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- A couple zaps to the testicles might be the future of contraception, according to a new animal study published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that zapping the testicles of rats with a therapeutic ultrasound machine -- the type normally used by physical therapists to treat muscle injuries -- abolished the germ cells that produce sperm.  The best results were seen when the testes underwent two 15-minute zap sessions.

"This caused rat sperm counts to fall far below the (equivalent) range seen in normal fertile men, and this happened in just two weeks," said James Tsuruta, lead author of the study and assistant professor of pediatrics in the laboratories of reproductive biology at UNC Chapel Hill.

"This method dropped sperm counts 10-times lower than just using heat," said Tsuruta.  "It's going to be exciting to figure out how this exactly works: if it's safe to use repeatedly, how long it lasts, and if it's reversible."

Of course, more research is needed to see whether the treatment could someday be available to men, but researchers said the zaps show promise as a cheap, reliable and reversible birth control option in the future.

Dr. Paul Turek, director of the Turek Clinic in San Francisco said the research is a "nice feasibility or proof of concept study, [but], as with other studies in medicine, it is always wise to remember that mice are not men."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Artificial Testicle Could Make Sperm for Infertile Men

In-vitro fertilization. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Researchers in California are attempting to make an artificial testicle that will produce human sperm.

Dr. Paul Turek, director of the Turek Clinic in San Francisco, which specializes in male infertility, said the goal is not to create a testicular implant for men, but a “sperm-making biological machine” that will help scientists learn more about just what causes male infertility.

“We’re trying to recreate the process of sperm production in a three-dimensional system,” Turek said. “Simple laboratory conditions can’t get it done in humans. Our concept is to actually recreate the testicle itself.”

Turek and his team will build the faux testicle by first growing cells that nurture sperm in the lab and then adding a man’s stem cells to hopefully create new sperm cells. Turek said the “holy grail” of his research will be to produce sperm for infertile men that could be used in IVF treatments to conceive children, but achieving that goal will likely not happen for many years.

Dr. Rick Paulson, director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California, told ABC News that if Turek and his team are successful, it could be an exciting step forward for men who lose their testicles to cancer, accidents or other factors that leave them without the ability to make sperm.

But the team will face a few hurdles, Paulson said.

“The processing of DNA is very complicated to go from a regular cell to a germ cell” like sperm, which have half the number of chromosomes as other cells in the body, Paulson said. “Not only do you have to split the chromosomes in half, but you also have to package the DNA in a very specific way. I think it will be quite challenging.”

Approximately 15 percent of couples are infertile, and in about half of those cases, the man is the source of the infertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. Scientists are already able to harvest sperm from the testicles of men who produce their own sperm, just not enough to be fertile.

Paulson said the next, far more challenging task for researchers will be to create eggs from stem cells to help infertile women.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Can Wi-Fi Kill Your Sperm?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Attention all men: You might want to keep your laptops, smartphones and other Internet-browsing tools away from the family jewels.

A new study, albeit a small one, suggests that using Wi-Fi may damage sperm and decrease a man’s fertility. The cause is electromagnetic radiation generated by wireless communication.

In the study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers took semen samples from 29 healthy volunteers and placed them under a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop connected to the Internet. After four hours, the semen suffered -- 25 percent of the sperm were no longer swimming and nine percent of them showed DNA damage. Semen samples kept near a laptop that was turned on but not connected to the Internet showed minimal damage, as did samples that were stored separately.

“Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the Internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality,” the authors wrote in the study, noting that they were unsure if their findings extended to all wireless devices or if there were other conditions affecting sperm quality.

The findings fuel anxiety for the millions of men who keep a number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices on their laps, in their pockets and in close proximity to their nether regions.

According the American Urological Association, nearly one in six U.S. couples have difficulty conceiving, and about half of the time, the man’s fertility is the problem. For optimal fertility, a man should have 70 million sperm per millimeter. Some research has found that environmental factors can lower sperm counts below this level.

A study published in early November indicated that the heat generated by holding a laptop on the knees was enough to raise testicle temperatures to dangerous, sperm-damaging levels, even after 10 to 15 minutes.

Smoking and excessive alcohol are obvious culprits in depleting sperm, said Shanna Swan, director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She also told ABC News that men who are worried about their fertility might think about eating organic foods to avoid pesticides that might lead to less viable sperm. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise doesn’t hurt either.

Some scientists say they don’t believe using a laptop will make men infertile. But just in case, maybe consider using our computer on your desk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio