The Rhythm of Language
Dear Mr. Dad: My 2 ½-year old is learning lots lot of new words, but has trouble singing even the simplest song. And although he sometimes rocks in time to music, he’s almost never on the beat. Is there a connection between language, music and rhythm, and is a problem with any of them a developmental red flag?
A: In a word, yes. During the second half of your child’s third year, his language skills make a sudden, often dramatic spurt forward. You’ll see this development in two distinct yet connected ways. First, you’ll notice that his imitation skills have become quite sharp: he can now repeat nearly any word or two-word phrase. He can also tell when he’s imitating something correctly and when he’s not.
Second, now that he’s got a good grasp of the sounds that make up his native language, he’ll begin using them as toys, amusing himself, and you, by making up his own “words.” Musically, a similar development is taking place. “Once they’ve acquired a simple vocabulary of tonal patterns and rhythms, [young children] can start creating their own songs,” says music educator Edwin Gordon.
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The Skinny on STIs and Male Infertility
How many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are there right
now in the U.S.? Believe it or not, 110,000,000! That’s double the number
of folks that get the flu each year. Talk about an epidemic! Not only that,
but 20,000,000 new STIs are diagnosed each year. Fully half of these
infections occur in 15- to 24-year-olds.
Unfortunately, most studies examining STIs and fertility
focus on females and not males. But there is some knowledge about how STIs
impact the fertility
potential of men. Might be good to know which ones can impair male
fertility, don’tcha think?
What Goes Around
A dozen or more STIs are known. Their incidence varies
widely by geographic area. In the U.S., 8 common STIs and 2 rare, episodic ones
merit discussion. Among them, 4 are caused by bacteria and are curable, 1 is a
parasite (also curable) and 5 are viruses that aren’t curable but are
controllable. Here are the Top 10 pesky little bugs.
Top 10 STIs in the U.S.
- HPV (human papilloma virus or condyloma; 14
million new cases annually). Alternatively called “venereal warts,” they are
associated with cervical and penile cancers, but not male infertility. A
preventative vaccine is available for teenagers.
- Chlamydia trachomatis (2.8 million cases).
In women, chlamydia infections can block tubes and cause infertility. In men,
blockages have not been demonstrated, but many studies show impaired sperm
motility and DNA fragmentation either due to inflammation or
- Trichomonas vaginalis (1.1 million cases)
has no proven association with male fertility but this flagellated parasite has
been linked to lower sperm motility. Treatable with antibiotics.
- Gonorrhea (820,000 cases) is a bacterial
infection that causes nasty urethritis and potentially epididymitis which
could lead to interruption or blockage
of sperm flow during ejaculation and result in male sterility.
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV, 776,000 cases)
causes painful genital pimples but has no well described association with male
infertility. Its effect on developing babies in infected mothers is profound,
- Syphilis (55,400 cases). Early infections are
marked by genital ulcers followed by neurological symptoms if untreated. Before
the age of antibiotics, it was a common cause of dementia. There is no reported
toxic effect of syphilis on sperm, but if untreated, infertility can result
from inflammation, scarring and blockage of
the epididymis and testis.
- HIV (41,400 cases) is associated with
reduced semen quality and male infertility, but really only if the infection
progresses to the point of weight loss and immunodeficiency.
- Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma (common)
are tiny bacteria that cling to sperm and may impair sperm motility and function.
They are typically found in <1% of asymptomatic infertile men.
- Zika virus (rare) can be transmitted
sexually during epidemics with devastating effects on fetal development but no
clear effects on male fertility. However, Zika-infected male mice have been
shown to be vulnerable to testicular infections and sterility.
- Ebola virus (very rare) is transmitted
sexually and that can cause problems much worse than fertility, including
So, that’s the scoop on STIs and male infertility. Some are feared
and others simply frightening. Remember, you and your partners carry your
entire sexual history with you during every encounter. The best way to prevent
this cause of male infertility is to practice safe sex. Every time. Treatment
is good, but prevention is ideal.
This article first appeared on Dr. Turek’s blog.
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The population of American veterans is not “one size fits
all.” As someone who spent nearly 13 years on active duty in the Army,
including nine months in the Middle East during Operation Desert Shield, I know
that personally. Varying military experiences, and the specific health issues
associated with them, pose ongoing challenges for the health care system as
veterans seek care. The main reason I
got involved with health care, and the health care of veterans in particular,
is because of my own story of military service.
I got involved with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research
Institute (PCORI) because my wife was a PCORI Ambassador, one of a network of
individuals dedicated to changing the culture of research. I went with her to a
few conferences and I saw the work she and others were doing to make health
care more patient-centered. PCORI’s central focus is to get patients involved
in every aspect of the health research process, and by doing that they are
changing the way research traditionally has been done. But I felt there was a
need to include the veterans’ voice to a far greater extent. So, I became an Ambassador
The most important thing I want veterans to know is that
there is actually research being done that is guided by their individual experiences.
Everybody is different; we all bring our own point of view to the doctor’s
office. But it’s rare that that point of view has been factored into the
research that provides the information all of us use to make health care
For instance, if you complain about pain, say, joint pain or
severe headaches, a doctor might give you 1,000 milligrams of ibuprofen. But if
a veteran reports those same symptoms, the source of that pain or headache may
have a significantly different cause, so a doctor might treat them differently
than how they’d treat a civilian. I’ve been really impressed with how PCORI is
focused on that patient-centered aspect of health care in the research it funds
overall, and in studies involving or designed to benefit veterans specifically.
The same need to be very patient-centered in deciding on
care options applies in dealing with one of the main issues faced by veterans
who have been in combat—the transition to civilian life. For veterans who have
sustained injuries from their service, there is a significant mental health
component to consider to be sure the decisions those veterans make with their
doctors are the right ones for them.
When a civilian is injured or suffers a health condition, it
often can be because of an accident, genetic factors, or perhaps health choices
they’ve made. Veterans deal with those same issues, of course. But we’re also
ordered to do things that can put us in harm’s way. Often, you’re thrust into a
situation where you’re injured or your mental health is affected because the
actions you took were mandated by a superior, not a decision you made. We know
that’s the nature of the mission, and we accept it. But that carries a very
specific burden over and above the physical toll an injury can take on a
The one thing I tell veterans and doctors is to always ask
questions. If you are a veteran and have any ailment, mental or physical, even
if it wasn’t something diagnosed during your service, it’s important to seek
out the information you need on how best to address your issue in the way that
will work best for you.
That’s part of why I pursued a degree in health management
after finishing my military service. I started asking questions about impacts
and methods of care and how that might affect diagnoses down the road. I seek
out a lot more information from doctors these days than in the past. In doing
so, I often find that they didn’t often understand the uniqueness of each
veteran’s health needs and how that was influenced by their service.
More and more I’m seeing that the doctors treating veterans
are veterans themselves, and that’s gone a long way toward improving care for
veterans. Just having someone who knows what you might be going through makes
it easier to be honest about what’s going on with your health.
I think that’s why it’s so important to emphasize patient-centered research as a path to care that will better serve all patients—veterans and civilians alike.
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Family Issues, Fatherhood, Legislative, Public Policy
Abortion: An Issue That Affects All of Us
Dear Mr. Dad: I remember a thoughtful column you wrote a few years ago about abortion and the need for men and women to talk about it. I’m wondering whether your thinking has changed in light of the draconian anti-abortion laws in Georgia, Alabama, and other places. I’m also wondering what you think about the laws in other states (New York, for example) that seemingly allow late term abortions for any reason.
A: Wow, those are some pretty serious political questions. As I mentioned last time this topic came up, I try to stay out of politics, but these are important issues, so let’s dig in.
To your first question, my bottom line hasn’t changed: When it comes to family planning, I still believe that women should have 51% of the votes. At the same time, I believe that we’ve mislabeled family planning as a “women’s issue,” when, in reality, it has a profound effect on men as well. A woman’s legal right to choose to terminate a pregnancy allows her to deny a man’s just-as-legal right to become a father and unilaterally ends any hopes and dreams of fatherhood he might have had. Likewise, her legal right to choose to become a parent denies his just-as-legal right to not become a parent and forces him into a role he may not want.
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What You Didn’t Learn in Sex Ed
Is it my imagination or does every new electronic device, be
it an alarm clock, cooking widget or cell phone, come with a 100-page owner’s
manual? No more learning by simple intuition or reason nowadays. According to
Malcolm Bradbury, the digital age is different: “We don’t have reason; we have
computation. We don’t have a tree of knowledge; we have an information
superhighway.” Is what you learned of love and relationships in school a good
manual for how things actually work? What didn’t they tell you in Sex Ed class?
What It Is
drive has its ups and downs. Although teenagers think of sex
every 3 minutes, one might expect that as we age, and life gets complicated,
thoughts of sex occur less often. One great way to keep your sex drive healthy
is to stay healthy. And disconnect (you guessed it!) from your digital devices.
size varies, but yours is likely normal. Let’s go over the facts.
The average length of a flaccid (limp) penis is 3.5 inches and the average
length of an erect penis is 5 inches. Also, the length of the flaccid penis
doesn’t predict the length of the erect penis, as there are “growers” and
“showers.” Not only that, penis size does not correlate with hand or foot size
or race, height or weight.
- The penis can be curved. Most “normal”
penises curve a little. A “straight” penis has a 15-degree curve or less in any
direction. That’s a little less than 5 minutes past the hour on a clock. Of
some concern are penises that have an increasing curvature, or a curvature
associated with a painful erection.
- Men lose their erections. One of my men’s health
practice’s “emergencies” are men who have their first failed erection. I
see them right away as they are quite concerned that something bad is happening
to them. It is: they need to take better care of themselves. The penis has a
mind of its own and is very clued into a man’s health and stress levels.
- Excessive masturbation is harmful. A whole lot
of animals masturbate. The genitals are built for use. If it were harmful, we
and other species would have gone extinct a long time ago. Having said that,
excessive masturbation can interfere with having a healthy sexual relationship
with a partner.
- Don’t ignore pain, lumps and bumps. Testicular
cancer is the most common cancer in young men. And it’s curable. So, cop a feel
down there once a month and let someone like me know if you feel something
When it comes to love and sex, education — whether through
manuals or schooling — is not the same as real life. In the words of Neil
Gaiman: “You don’t get explanations in real life. You just get moments that are
absolutely, utterly, inexplicably odd.”
This article first appeared on Dr. Turek’s
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
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As a female college student, I have participated
in a fair number of conversations about body image and self-esteem. For many
college women, these conversations revolve around how much they had to eat that
day, that they cannot treat themselves for a while, or that they need to get
back on the treadmill this semester. Thinking this way has become second nature for women.
College guys are different.
I have witnessed the packs of guys at the gym
who stay in the weight room for hours trying to surpass their bench number. I
have overheard friend groups of guys sizing one another up, deliberating what
they should be focusing more on: chest or arms. I have walked in the drug store
aisles and see dozens of protein and “bulk” supplements, picturing buff guys
flexing on the covers. I turn on the TV and see commercials of guys with eight
packs, promoting products while having beautiful women wrapped around
Isn’t there something wrong with this, and why
aren’t we doing anything about it?
The pressure for women to look a certain way has
been a concern for decades, where images of the “ideal body” are plastered all over
social media, instagram, TV and billboards. Some campaigns in recent years,
such as American Eagle and Dove, have tried to tackle
this issue, and make women’s expectations of their bodies more realistic. When
it comes to men’s body image, the concern is not being addressed and most are
not aware. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), around 4-10 percent of
college-age men have (known) eating disorders. They say this has greatly
increased in the past couple of decades in part due to increased sexual
objectification of men and the portrayal of the combined lean and muscular ideal in media images.
Nicole Buchanan, an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State
University expands on the shift of increase, stating, “The attention and
the ideal male image has shifted to one that is unattainable and unreasonable
for most men to believe that they should achieve.”
for men have become the new cosmetic, a way to express the strength and manliness that men demonstrate to others. Trine Tetlie Eik-Nes, an
associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
(NTNU), confirms that muscles
have become a form of cosmetics for men. In her research at NTNU and Harvard
University, Eik-Nes has concluded that most bulking-obsessed men are not
building muscle to improve their skill in sports or athleticism, but that they
are building up the idea of the ideal, strong male. In turn, men who don’t have the “bulking look”
can feel undesirable. This outlook dissatisfaction has shown over the years in
men; a large three sample survey analysis of North America (conducted in 1972, 1985, and 1996), has concluded
that negative body image among men has become increasingly widespread. Over the
24-year period, appearance dissatisfaction grew from roughly 15 to 43%.
are supposed to be thin and have small waistlines. Boys should have wide
shoulders and big muscles. Those are the narrow ideals that young people grow
up with today. It turns out that this unrealistic body image is as challenging
for men as for women.” Eik-Nes have been one of the few researchers to
help conclude this epidemic facing men in our image-obsessed society.
There are additional body image concerns facing men other than
the bulking obsession, including other body features such as height, aging, and
fat accumulation. Data has indicated that features of the societal ideal, such
as ideal height, associate individuals with higher levels of charisma,
education or leadership qualities, increased career success, and even a more
robust dating life.
with the growing body image dissatisfaction, an increase in supplement use and
cosmetic procedures have increased as well. In Eik-Nes’s study she
discovered that young men ages 18-32 were correlated to have four times the
probability of using legal and illegal supplements, and anabolic steroids. According to the American
Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Male cosmetic procedures
have increased 325 percent since 1997. Though college
students might not be undergoing these procedures (at least anytime soon), the
increase of cosmetic procedures and extreme body morphing measures among men
constitutes for future concern.
Though women seem to be at the center of concern
for body image issues, men are more complex than we think. Along with the
recent increase in body dissatisfaction, supplement use and cosmetic procedures
are becoming more popular in men as they as being more persuaded by the
mainstream media depictions of the “desirable male”.
With the constant pressures that come with continually building muscle and a desirable body image, it is important to never underestimate how much this can affect the men in your life. As a woman who has seen many instances falling into these scary statistics, I have no doubt that male body image is an issue on the rise in our society and within our own social circles.
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As we age, we often accept changes in our body and health as
being part of the aging process. The
fact is though, we don’t have to accept these changes. For men, the amount of
muscle we have, or our strength is often connected to our virility and stamina.
This being said, the condition sarcopenia or age-related muscle loss, is
something that is not only linked to our muscle size, strength and health, but
is a contributing risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight
problems and sex hormone imbalances.
By the time men hit age 50, the loss of muscle and strength
becomes noticeable. We lose between 1% to 2% of muscle per year past the age of
50, and after the age of 70, the loss increases and ranges from 13% to 24% per
What’s the solution? At this point, modern medicine has
little to offer us in the form of a prescription. Luckily, there are three well
documented areas in which you should focus in order to halt and reverse this
condition: increase protein consumption, rejuvenate muscle production with the
right blend of essential amino acids, and increase the amount of resistance
Since muscles are made from protein, it is important to give
your body the tools it needs to make more muscle. Consuming between 0.6-0.9 grams
of protein per pound of body weight per day is what works. (If you weigh 150
pounds you would need between 90-135g of protein per day.) A
great way to add more protein to your day is by adding a protein snack such
as nuts (peanuts 20.5g/half cup, almonds 16.5g/half cup), edamame (8.5g/half
cup), or chickpeas (7.25g/half cup).
Add Essential Amino Acids
Granted eating more protein is good, but what if you are
missing the critical essential amino acids needed to help your body produce and
repair muscle? Adding the patented essential amino acid supplement Rejuvenate to your daily routine will ensure
you are doing just that. Rejuvenate is the first supplement of its kind to
prevent muscle loss and even help rebuild muscle in people confined to bedrest.
Rejuvenate has proven its effects to help rebuild and repair
muscle by 57%, with noticeable muscle improvement within 30 days. Simply put,
Rejuvenate helps rebuilding muscle with or without exercise, prevents muscle
loss and speeds recovery.
Increase Resistance Exercise
When it comes to muscle, the old saying “use it or lose it”
is true. Exercise, and in particular resistance training or strength training, is
extremely effective for preventing sarcopenia. While aerobic exercise is great
for burning fat and improving endurance, it isn’t the best approach for
addressing muscle loss. Resistance training on the other hand helps build both
the size and health of muscle. For best results, mix it up by using resistance
bands, squats, lunges and push-ups, or weight training in differing intervals
will provide the best impact for building muscle. These types of activity
should be done at least 4 times per week for best results.
Keep this in mind: Age related muscle loss is more than just
getting smaller or weaker. As we lose muscle, we increase our risk for heart
disease, diabetes, obesity and decreased hormones. Three of those four listed are diseases we
don’t want, and our decreased hormones impacts our energy levels and libido. The
simple solution is to incorporate all three suggestions above. You can easily
rejuvenate your body’s ability to replace lost muscle in as little as 4 weeks.
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I have a secret I need to confess, up front. For most of my
life I believed that there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t always
interested in sex and ready to jump at every opportunity to have it. Like many
boys reaching adolescence, I was very interested in sex and talking to my
buddies I learned that I wasn’t alone. I also learned, from these same buddies,
that guys always wanted it and girls were reluctant to give it and had
to be coaxed, cajoled, and talked into it.
As I got older and later got married, I learned that my wife
was also interested in sex. But I continued to believe I must want it
all the time, because I’m the man. Further, I knew that I must show my wife
I wanted it all the time. Otherwise, she would think I wasn’t a man and
she might go looking for someone who was more manly than me. Although I learned
to play the role of a manly man, and sometimes I actually believed I was one,
deep inside I felt insecure and worried.
What do I do if I’m too tired for sex? What if I’m just not
that turned on? Will she think she’s not attractive to me if I don’t push for
more sex? Will she think I’m having an affair if I’m not always interested in
sex? I learned that it was better to act like I wanted it all the time and be
rejected by her than to have to deal with these disturbing questions.
Fortunately, times are changing. I’ve gotten older and a bit
more mature. My wife, Carlin, and I can talk more openly about sexual matters.
Yet until I heard about a new book, Not Always in the Mood: The New
Science of Men, Sex, and Relationships by sex researcher, Dr. Sarah Hunter
Murray, I never fully realized that I wasn’t as much of an oddball as I
feared. Of course, my wife will tell you I’m still pretty odd.
“There is one thing we know about men and sex,” says Murray.
“It is that men are always in the mood. Any time, any place. Right?
WRONG.” She goes on to say that men’s sexual desire has long been depicted
as high, simple, and unwavering. But the new research around this
topic tells us that this is far from true and that good sex and relationships
are suffering from this long-held misconception.”
In her excellent book, Dr. Murray shares the latest research
findings in the field which is good news for all men and women who want to feel
less stress and worry about sex, which is most men and women I know. Her book
goes a long way in helping us all have a more relaxed, joyful, and passionate
One of the related myths that “men are always in the mood”
is that “men don’t need anything to let him know he is sexually desired.” Since
he’s all turned on and ready to go anytime, he just has to focus on doing
things that let her (in heterosexual relationships) know she is
It turns out men need to feel desired just as much, or even
more, then women. Dr. Murray asked 237 heterosexual men aged 18-65, who had
been in a relationship six months or longer, how important feeling sexually
desirable was to their sexual experiences. As an older man, I assumed that guys
over 40 would want and need to feel desired since they are losing some of their
sexual mojo, but the younger guys, overflowing with testosterone, wouldn’t much
So, I was surprised to learn that while 5.5 percent of the
participants indicated that it was not important to their sexual experiences, a
whopping 94.5 percent of study participants indicated that it was “very” or
“extremely” important to their sexual experiences. This was a real myth buster
for me and made me want to share her results and my own experiences with my
Carlin and I have been together now for nearly 40 years.
We’ve learned that we both need to know we are sexually desired. Here are some
things I’ve learned that I needed and other men need as well.
- Non-Sexual touching
Certainly, sexual touching is desirable when we’re enjoying sex together, but non-sexual touch let’s me know I’m desirable. Carlin will often ask, “Would you like to have your head rubbed?” I love it when she asks and I love to lie in her lap while she massages my scalp.
2. Appreciation for what I do
Carlin usually makes the dinners and I usually do the dishes. But I also do dishes unexpectedly, like after her women’s group. “It turns me on when you do the dishes,” she’s told me on numerous occasions. And she really means it. It’s nice to feel that doing regular things can be a turn on. Like most men, I don’t like going to doctors and often forget my annual check-up. When I do go and hear “It turns me on when you take care of your health,” you can bet I remember more often.
Carlin used to be very flirtatious when we were first dating and let me know she felt I was a real “hottie.” But in the day-to-day busyness, we both let our flirtatious selves get lost. When she remembers to be provocative, to wear sexy clothing just for me or to let me know she’s interested in sex with me, it feels extra special and I feel like I still am desirable, even after being together forty years.
4. Letting me know that she likes what I do when we make love
“I love it when you that,” is music to my ears. Pleasing her is one of the joys of my life and her telling me that things I do give her pleasure, lets me know I still have the magic touch. In an age where we’re told we must each be responsible for our own sexual pleasure I want to know that there are things I do to turn her on that only I can do.
5. Compliments and appreciations for just being me
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that sex is more than just, well…sex. It’s really part of the little day-to-day connections that let me know that who I am and what I do are appreciated. We thrive on the small compliments and appreciations that let us know we’re special. I love it when Carlin tells me, “thanks for sweeping the floor. I noticed,” or when she says, “You look particularly nice today.”
6. Letting me know, “I’m da man”
We all want to be heroes for the person we love. Generally,
large, heroic acts of love, kindness, and generosity are few and far between.
At a time when men are often denigrated in the media, seen either as fools or
predators, we need to know that our maleness is appreciated that we’re
respected for being men. I love it when Carlin brings me a jar to open. I can
do something that she can’t do. A small thing, perhaps, but important.
I look forward to hearing from you. If you’re a guy, let me
know what things make you feel sexually desired? If you’re a woman, what are
the things you do that make the man in your life feel he’s a hottie? or
drop me a note at Jed@MenAlive.com and
put “hottie” in the subject line.
This article first appeared on Jed’s
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Fatherhood, Growing Up, Parenting
Boys and Girls: Nature vs. Nurture
Dear Mr. Dad: My husband and I have a boy and a girl and we try as much as we can to treat them the same way. We don’t limit our daughter’s wardrobe to pink and our son’s to blue and we’ve banned gender-stereotyped toys from the house. But our daughter still behaves like a stereotypical girl and our son like a boy. What did we do wrong?
A: In a word, nothing. Despite many modern parents’ best efforts to rid their homes of gender stereotypes, some stereotypical behaviors still pop up. But here’s the big question: Are boys and girls really as different as they seem or is there something we parents are doing to make them that way?
Consider this: For the first 18 months of life, the physical and biological differences are so slight that when babies are dressed in nothing but diapers, most adults can’t tell a boy from a girl. But that doesn’t stop us from treating them quite differently.
Back in the late 1970s, researchers John and Sandra Condry showed 200 adults a videotape of a 9-month old baby playing with various toys. Half were told that they were watching a boy, the other half that they were watching a girl. Although everyone was viewing the same tape, the descriptions the two groups gave of the baby’s behavior were incredibly different. The “boy” group overwhelmingly perceived the child’s startled reaction to a jack-in-the-box popping as anger. The “girl” group saw the reaction as fear.
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Sperm Counts: How Low Is Too Low if You Want To Be a Dad?
We humans like to count and label things. We order the stars
above us into constellations. We organize time into hours, minutes and seconds.
We name the colors of the rainbow. We track how many steps we take with widgets
on our wrists. Maybe it gives us a sense of control over our big, wide world.
Or maybe it helps us feel like we belong. Regardless, we do the same when it
comes to male
We Count Sperm, Too
analysis is another example of how we like to order our world. We have
normal values, means and averages, and reference ranges for everything
sperm-related, including total number, movement and shape. Does this have real
value? Absolutely. Our ability to order the world is fundamental to how we
think about things. And this weird habit of ours has certainly helped us to
better evaluate and treat male infertility.
Let’s break down the Greek-derived terms given to sperm
numbers so it makes more sense:
|Polyspermia||High sperm concentration||>100 million sperm/mL|
|Normospermia||Normal sperm concentration||15-100 million sperm/mL|
|Oligospermia||Low sperm concentration||<15 million sperm/mL|
|Cryptozoospermia||Very few sperm present||Sperm on spun semen only|
|Azoospermia||No sperm present||0 sperm in ejaculate|
Every Sperm is Sacred
Now, here’s where the ordering and the science goes a little
soft on us. Note the following 5 truths about ejaculated sperm numbers:
- There is no known association of polyspermia
with male infertility. The more the merrier it seems.
- Having a normal sperm count does not mean you’re
fertile. It means that you’re more likely to be fertile. Take a “deeper
dive” into sperm counts and you will discover that at
least 25% of men with normal sperm counts are infertile. It’s a
quality issue, not just quantity.
- Having a low
sperm count increases the probability of being infertile but does not
necessarily mean that you are. Perfectly normal babies are conceived by men
with low sperm counts, precisely because women don’t need “normal” numbers to
get the job done.
- Men with low numbers of ejaculated sperm, which
are often nearly impossible to find unless you look really hard, need not fear.
A very small number of sperm can do a very good job of making babies with
assisted reproduction (IVF-ICSI).
- Having no
sperm in the ejaculate is pretty much the only guarantee of male
infertility. Many of these cases are due to blockage and can be corrected.
Others are due to impaired sperm production, which although generally not
correctable, does not necessarily preclude a man from having children. Pregnancy
is possible using small numbers of testicular sperm and IVF-ICSI.
So, ordering our thoughts about sperm has led to a better
understanding of the root causes of male infertility. But sperm counts are by
no means the whole story, only a small part of it. For conception is a
performance with many acts, actors and actresses that involves miracles as much
This article first appeared on Dr. Turek’s blog.
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