Low sperm count not just a problem for fertility

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A man’s semen count is a marker of his general health, according to the largest study to date evaluating semen quality, reproductive function and metabolic risk in men referred for fertility evaluation. The study results, in 5,177 male partners of infertile couples from Italy, will be presented Sunday at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, Ill.

“Our study clearly shows that low sperm count by itself is associated with metabolic alterations, cardiovascular risk and low bone mass,” said the study’s lead investigator, Alberto Ferlin, M.D., Ph.D. He recently moved as associate professor of endocrinology to Italy’s University of Brescia from the University of Padova, where the study took place in collaboration with professor Carlo Foresta, M.D.

“Infertile men are likely to have important co-existing health problems or risk factors that can impair quality of life and shorten their lives,” said Ferlin, who is also president of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine. “Fertility evaluation gives men the unique opportunity for health assessment and disease prevention.”

Specifically, Ferlin and his colleagues found that about half the men had low sperm counts and were 1.2 times more likely than those with normal sperm counts to have greater body fat (bigger waistline and higher body mass index, or BMI); higher blood pressure (systolic, or top reading), “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides; and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol. They also had a higher frequency of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of these and other metabolic risk factors that increase the chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the investigators reported. A measure of insulin resistance, another problem that can lead to diabetes, also was higher in men with low sperm counts.

Low sperm count was defined as less than 39 million per ejaculate, a value also used in the U.S. All the men in the study had a sperm analysis as part of a comprehensive health evaluation in the university’s fertility clinic, which included measurement of their reproductive hormones and metabolic parameters.

The researchers found a 12-fold increased risk of hypogonadism, or low testosterone levels, in men with low sperm counts. Half the men with low testosterone had osteoporosis or low bone mass, a possible precursor to osteoporosis, as found on a bone density scan.

These study findings, according to Ferlin, suggest that low sperm count of itself is associated with poorer measures of cardiometabolic health but that hypogonadism is mainly involved in this association. He cautioned that their study does not prove that low sperm counts cause metabolic derangements, but rather that sperm quality is a mirror of the general male health.

The bottom line, Ferlin stressed, is that treatment of male infertility should not focus only on having a child when diagnostic testing finds other health risks, such as overweight, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

“Men of couples having difficulties achieving pregnancy should be correctly diagnosed and followed up by their fertility specialists and primary care doctor because they could have an increased chance of morbidity and mortality,” he said.

Article Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/tes-lsc031418.php

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These two economists used ‘meta rules’ to drop 120 pounds

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“Meta-rules” are a small but powerful way to change your eating habits and keep off unwanted pounds, according to former obese economists Christopher Payne and Robert Barnett. The friends, who once worked together at Bloomberg, used the philosophy to drop a combined 120 pounds.

Payne and Barnett have written a book about their weight loss journey: “The Economists’ Diet.” They say their philosophy, which they adopted from behavioral economist Dan Ariely, applies their knowledge about economics to mindful eating.

“There’s a glut of food, we’re eating too much,” Payne tells NBC News BETTER. “This is how we have to impose eating austerity in order to get our bodies back.”

“META-RULES” ARE SMALL RULES YOU ESTABLISH THAT DICTATE HOW YOU EAT

Whether you make it a rule to only eat dessert once a week, or to ban sugary drinks, “meta-rules” help you lose weight because they reduce decision making about what goes in your stomach, Payne and Barnett say.

“It’s almost like an oath to yourself to take decision and choice out of it,” Payne says. “But in another sense, what we’re talking about is just habits.”

The men give the following tips in addition to applying “meta-rules” to weight loss.

  • Weigh yourself every morning. This will force you to be conscious of how your eating habits are affecting your weight.
  • Never waste calories on food you don’t love.
  • Have two light meals and one square meal per day.
  • If you know you’re going to eat a large meal later, skip a meal earlier in the day.
  • Become calorie conscious. You may even want to keep a food ledger and count your calories.

LOSING WEIGHT TAKES TIME

Payne and Barnett insist “meta-rules” are not a fad diet: they won’t help you lose weight quickly.

“It’s a long-term process about changing behavior for the good,” Payne says.

You do something quick, and then you almost toss it out and go back to your old ways.

You do something quick, and then you almost toss it out and go back to your old ways.

Payne says it took him 18 months to lose 45 pounds, or about 2.5 pounds a month. Barnett says it took him over a year to lose 75 pounds.

“We would generally caution against [losing weight quickly] because we don’t think it gives you enough time to instill the habits you’re going to need to [keep the weight off] for the rest of your life,” says Barnett. “You do something quick, and then you almost toss it out and go back to your old ways.”

DEVELOPING MINDFUL EATING HABITS IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN EXERCISE

You might think that exercise is enough to maintain a healthy weight, the authors say, but developing positive eating habits through “meta-rules” outperforms the gym.

“For many of us, [exercise] is not something we’re going to keep up forever,” Payne says. “You need to be able to keep up the sustainable habits.”

“META-RULES” ARE ABOUT CHANGING YOUR BEHAVIOR FOR THE LONG-HAUL

Both men say “meta-rules” helped them lose weight and keep it off.

“There’s plenty enough to worry about in life, and it just so happens for me the one thing I don’t have to worry about is my weight,” says Payne. “But it’s not that I have some perfect physique — far from it — it’s just good enough, and that’s great.”

Barnett says his blood pressure has gone down and he no longer takes medication.

“I think whenever you can sort of naturally control something like that as opposed to needing a pill, that’s great,” says Barnett. “So hopefully I’ll be around for my children for more years and that kind of thing because of losing weight.”

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR EATING HABITS WITH “META-RULES”

  • Make some rules: Creating “meta-rules” for mindful eating will help reduce decision making about what you’re going to eat. For example, you might make a rule that you’re only going to drink your coffee black, or that you will only eat out twice a month.
  • Practice patience: “Meta-rules” are not a fad diet. Losing weight is a slow process. Remember: it’s not about being thin, but rather, changing your behavior, which will help keep the weight off.
  • Eat well first, exercise second: While exercise is great, it probably won’t help you stay in shape if you’re not also watching what goes in your mouth. “Meta-rules” help keep the weight off even when you can’t make it to the gym.
  • You have to be in it to win it: Whether you’re tired of being overweight or just want to be healthier, “meta-rules” will help you develop healthier habits for the rest of your life.

Article Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/pop-culture/these-two-economists-used-meta-rules-drop-120-pounds-ncna855206

by Julie Compton / 

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Is testosterone replacement therapy the right thing for aging males?

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Testosterone (T) is a naturally occurring hormone in men, and most of it is produced in the testicles.

At puberty, T production escalates, bringing about masculinizing changes in muscle mass.  also promotes sex drive, sperm and red blood cell production, bone mass and determines how men store body fat.

It can impact quality of life issues as well, like mood, energy and motivation.

Beginning at about age 30, T production begins to decline on average by about 1 percent per year, plummeting late in life. This causes all sorts of problems, including lack of sex drive, inability to sleep, loss of muscle and bone mass, increased belly fat, the list goes on. Reversing these symptoms and improving the quality of life is the reason T replacement therapy (TRT) clinics supervised by physicians have sprung up around the country.

Although it is considered a male hormone, women also produce a modest amount of T in the ovaries. After menopause, estrogen production declines, which alters the ratio of estrogen to T, explaining why women begin taking on some male characteristics, like storing more fat around the midsection, rather than on the hips, thighs and buttocks as occurs earlier in life.

TESTOSTERONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY

Is TRT a good thing? It can be when managed responsibly. If you are older, and your T level is very low and falls below the normal range, it makes sense to address it with TRT because it can negatively impact health, increasing risks associated with diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. Low T also may shorten life, but this is controversial because when TRT raises T levels it has not been shown to extend life.

More is not always better, and many TRT clinics are viewed with suspicion because they advertise that it’s possible to feel like you are 25 years old again, even though you are decades older. Perhaps this is possible, but at what price, and if you are taking huge doses of T, could you be damaging your health?

Research studies in 2013 and 2014 indicated that TRT increased the risk of heart disease in men 65 and older, and in younger men with a history of heart disease. However, subsequent studies refute these findings and some show a deceased risk of heart disease. Another area of concern is an increased risk of prostate cancer, but this, too, is controversial. There does appear to be solid evidence that TRT can increase the risk of blood clots and stroke, plus sleep apnea, acne and breast enlargement.

All in all, some experts believe the benefits outweigh the risks, while others are more cautious because TRT hasn’t been around long enough or impacted enough men to draw meaningful conclusions. Time will tell. In the meantime, like most things in life, moderation is the best approach.

ANABOLIC STEROIDS

Anabolic steroids (AS) are synthetic steroid hormones that resemble T. AS require a doctor’s prescription and were developed to promote muscle mass in postsurgical patients, particularly older patients. Unfortunately, AS use spilled over to strength athletes who wanted the advantages associated with increased muscle mass, and AS delivered as promised. This, in turn, inspired gross overdosing with AS as a means to producing freaky muscular proportions and super human strength.

AS can cause a long list of negative side effects, the most serious being growth of tumors in the liver and acceleration of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). AS suppress HDL (good cholesterol) production, which leads to a ratio of bad to good cholesterol that is out of whack, promoting clogged arteries and ultimately leading to a heart attack. Worse, because a doctor’s prescription is required, AS often are obtained illegally from foreign countries through the mail, with no sense of the quality of the product or the dangers involved.

When I was young, I was an enthusiastic weight lifter, working out hours every day. Some of my friends went the AS route and developed amazing physiques. Recently, I have endeavored to track them down to see how they are doing, and I was saddened to learn that too many have died prematurely, in their fifties and sixties, some even earlier. The most likely cause was a heart attack.

THE BOTTOM LINE

TRT has a place and can be beneficial if managed prudently. Just be careful of extreme approaches and promises that seem too good to be true. As for AS, there is no justifiable reason for athletes to be taking them. Ever!

Article Source: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/life/wellness/health/2017/09/07/testosterone-replacement-therapy-aging-males/569708001/?cookies=&from=global

Written BY: Bryant Stamford

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Men’s Sperm Counts Are Dropping, and Scientists Don’t Know Why

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The topic of overpopulation has been much discussed over the past few decades, but what if the real issue is a severe decline in population?

It sounds like something straight out of a dystopian nightmare, but new research shows sperm counts are drastically dropping across the Western world.

Researchers from Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem announced this week that sperm count in men residing in developed countries has dropped by a whopping 50 percent over the past 40 years. They claim this alarming trend could potentially result in a decline in male health, fertility and possibly even extinction if the trend doesn’t turn around.

“This study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count,” explained study co-author Hagai Levine.

After data was collected from 185 studies looking at sperm count and concentration in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand from 1973 to 2011, researchers found that total sperm count declined by 59.3 percent and sperm concentration declined by 52.4 percent.

Data from men in South America, Asia and Africa were also examined, however, no serious decline was detected. Researchers did note that not as many studies have been conducted in these regions.

Researchers didn’t look into reasons why the drop in sperm count occurred, but noted that the phenomenon has been previously linked to factors ranging from exposure to chemicals and pesticides to lifestyle choices, including smoking, obesity and stress. They are worried that if things keep heading in this direction, the human race could be doomed.

Daniel Brison, an embryology and stem cell biology specialist at Manchester University who was asked to comment on the findings, told Reuters the study had “major implications not just for fertility, but for male health and wider public health.”

“An unanswered question is whether the impact of whatever is causing declining sperm counts will be seen in future generations of children via epigenetic (gene modifications) or other mechanisms operating in sperm,” Brison said.

The next step is obviously to pinpoint what is causing the sperm count to decrease so dramatically. “Given that we still do not know what lifestyle, dietary or chemical exposures might have caused this decrease, research efforts to identify (them) need to be redoubled and to be nonpresumptive as to cause,” added Edinburgh University’s Richard Sharpe.

In the meantime, if you are concerned about your own declining sperm count you should consider modifying your diet. Here are some foods that can help make your sperm more active, healthy and abundant.

Article Source: https://www.yahoo.com/amphtml/lifestyle/men-apos-sperm-counts-dropping-074720787.html?__twitter_impression=true

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