For IVF / ICSI
Dr. K, we are scheduled for In Vitro Fertilization? From a “sperm” perspective, what do I need to do to help out?
First of all, it is great that you and your partner have found the reproductive option that resonates with your reproductive philosophy, needs and timetable. That’s great!
If you have had a vasectomy, you will need to work with your male fertility doctor to arrange for sperm to be retrieved for the IVF cycle (see Sperm Aspiration & Retrieval: After a vasectomy).
If you have blocked pipes because of cystic fibrosis, your situation is similar to men with vasectomies and please see see Sperm Aspiration & Retrieval: After a vasectomy.
If you have lots of sperm in your ejaculate, make sure you are comfortable with ejaculating in the office setting (some men have an understandable amount of performance anxiety when they are asked to masturbate successfully upon demand). If it is going to be a problem, see if your IVF group wants you to bring a sample in from home where you can produce a sample more comfortably.)
If you have sperm in your ejaculate but not many, talk with your IVF group and see if they want you to freeze several samples well in advance and also produce several fresh samples at the time of the IVF cycle.
If you have no sperm because your testicle factories are not working properly (non-obstructive azoospermia), then see the next section (Sperm Aspiration & Retrieval: Azoospermia).
From a “sperm” perspective, keeping yourself healthy through exercise, sleep, diet and stress reduction will help you have healthy sperm. As a general guideline, use your best judgment and do everything in moderation. Depending on your height and body type, you probably know what weight range your body and mind function best. You should have an idea how much sleep and exercise you need to feel good. As far as stress is concerned, we all have stressors. We ask that you just do your best. Try to reduce the stressors that you can control… that’s all you can do.
C’mon Dr. K, can you get any more vague?
What can I say…one size doesn’t fit all…what works for one man will not work for another. With that said, here are some specific things that can help:
- Recreational drugs and smoking are definite no-nos. Please remember that your testicle factories go through three month cycles and it may take 2 -3 cycles before some of the toxic effects are cleared out of the sperm assembly lines in the scrotum. The sooner you can stop, the better.
- In regards to alcohol, while some is good, more may not be better. Excessive post-Super Bowl drinking is not going to help your sperm out.
- Visit with your male fertility specialist and make sure you are not taking any medications that could be negatively affecting your sperm production. For example, some men have been placed on testosterone or chronic narcotics that may actually be hurting your sperm quality and quantity.
- Finally, nutritional supplements may be helpful. A growing body of evidence supports the use of nutraceuticals to help improve the quantity and quality of sperm. A lot of them are anti-oxidants such as lycopenes, selenium, Vitamin C & E. Talk to your male fertility specialist and see our Section on Nutritional Support.
Dr. K, all these changes are putting a serious dent in my life style?
While it may seem like these recommendations are overbearing, we want you to have the very best chances of having a successful IVF cycle. You and your partner have invested so much into this fertility process…emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually…that we want to just optimize every contributing factor that we have control over. Remember…we are not asking you to make these lifestyle modifications for the rest of your life. First, get through the IVF cycle and then decide if you want to continue them. Who knows….you might like the “new” you.