The best thing you can do for your reproductive system is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Since spermatogenesis (sperm creation) is the highest functioning system in the human body, any mistreatment of your body affects your reproductive system.
Create healthy habits:
- Don’t smoke
- Exercise regularly: Vigorous exercise seems to improve sperm counts, probably because it improves hormone balance and functionality and reduces obesity.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Also, there is no data that wearing briefs, riding a bike, using protein supplements, creatine, or moderate alcohol intake (one drink a day or less) impacts your reproductive health.
Effect of Drugs/Testosterone Enhancement
Certain prescription and recreational drugs (marijuana and cocaine) can be bad for your reproductive health. The most common prescription drug that causes fertility problems for men is exogenous testosterone (testosterone through outside sources, rather than that produced in the body). While we have might recommend using medication to increase testosterone, actually giving a man exogenous testosterone will shut off his sperm production.
How Hormones Regulate Testosterone
Here is an analogy helps to understand this: If we think of the male hormone (or endocrine) system as a thermostat that regulates testosterone, we can think of exogenous testosterone as a space heater. If you place a space heater in a room and heat it up, the thermostat in the room will shut off as it sees the room as already being warm and does not need to heat the room. In our case, exogenous testosterone is the space heater and the thermostat is the male hormone system. Giving a man exogenous testosterone shuts down the male endocrine axis and stops sperm production (usually not permanently).
Alternatively, we may use other medications such as clomid that cause the thermostat to go into overdrive by acting like placing an ice pack on the temperature sensor of the thermostat. Doing this tricks the thermostat into thinking it is cold in the room by altering the feedback it is getting and artificially increasing the temperature. The main point here is to not, under any circumstances, take testosterone if you are trying to have children.
Nutraceuticals are generally any non-FDA regulated substance, also known as health or dietary supplements. All of these supplements are not required to undergo testing for any of their uses because they are made of natural substances not synthesized chemicals. This means that their quality is not tightly controlled and that many make false claims of their benefits. Very few, if any of them, have scientific evidence proving they are effective.
The good news is that most will not hurt your reproductive potential, and some may help, we just do not have all the data to back up these claims (with just a few exceptions). However, we are, in general, believers in alternative and complementary medicine along with medical care and feel they can have a valuable role in treating patients.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
The one nutraceutical we recommend is Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10. We suggest that patients take 200 mg of this twice daily as four out of five studies have shown that this drug can help sperm quality of men. CoQ10 works by acting as a cofactor in mitochondria, which are the power plants of all cells.
CoQ10 is thought to lessen the damage caused by oxidative stress experienced by sperm (it is an anti-oxidant) and to help sperm move more efficiently.
Oncofertility is a term used to describe fertility preservation in men and women diagnosed with cancer. We will make any scheduling changes necessary to see newly diagnosed men with cancer who wish to bank sperm before having chemotherapy or radiation treatments, which could impact their reproductive health.
If the man is azoospermic (no sperm in ejaculate), we are happy to provide surgical sperm extraction should this be desired by the patient. Patients must understand that future use of any of these samples may require in-vitro fertilization.