Being a paper presented at the training seminar of Natural Intergrative Medicine Practitioners Association on October 8 at the Water Parks, Toyin Street, Ikeja Lagos.

MEN are no longer men. When men were men, it was unheard of that a man will follow his wife to a fertility clinic where a doctor will determine if he is the one making it impossible for his wife to get pregnant. In the days when men were men, no one thought of the man as a culprit in the infertility equation.  Always, everyone thought the woman was the problem. But, now, fertility clinics report that on the average, four in every 10 cases of infertility are caused by men.

Fertility

Doctors diagnose couples infertile if they cannot make babies within one year of unprotected sexual intercourse. Getting pregnant is one of the simplest biological processes in a woman’s body if all is well with her and her spouse. But it can also easily be one of the most nightmarish experiences for a couple if the body of either or both partners throws spanners in the works. For a woman to be able to get pregnant…

•The sperm of the husband must be of the right count.

•The sperm must be of the right (morphology).

•The sperm must be able to swim vigorously without any mishap, such as the tail falling off.

•The sperm must not agglutinate, that is gum.

•There must be enough food in the semen for the sperm.

•The sperm must have enough antioxidants, principally zinc, in the semen to protect them against free radicals during its journey from the testes and the sperm ducts to the penis, and, from there, through the vagina to the fallopian tube.

•The semen must contain enough antibody to suppress antibody resistance to the sperm in the woman’s body

•The semen must be alkaline, besides.

•There should be no obstruction all the way from the testis, otherwise a blockage-caused hydrocele may prevent or stop sperm flow.

•As the movement of sperm from the testis through the duct require optimal nervous action, the nervous system must be healthy.

•The vagina must not be too acidic, otherwise excessive acidosis would create a hostile environment to the sperm, which thrive in an alkaline medium, and depopulate them.

•The ovaries in the woman’s body must not be diseased, and should produce mature egg(s).

•The hormones (estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating Hormone (FSH), Lutenising Hormone (LH) and Prolactin must be in a state of balance

•If they are, and the ovary releases an egg from a follicle, the fallopian tube must not be blocked, otherwise sperm may not reach the egg to fertilise it or, if the egg is fertilised at all, it may be unable to make its journey to the uterus, to which it attaches itself.

•The womb or uterus must be competent to not only receive the sperm but to also receive the fertilised egg. Incompetence may be due to uterine fibroids, endometriosis adhesions and wrong presentation of the opening of the womb to the cervic. It is impossible in works, such as this to mention all possible causes of male and female infertility. For diet, the environment, the nerves contraceptives, anxiety, stress and the emotions, among many others, play vital roles as well. When my wife was pregnant with our first child and attended her antenatal clinic, she and another woman who attended the same clinic became friends. By the ninth month, it turned out that this woman was not pregnant, although she exhibited typical signs of pregnancy. Her breasts had enlarged as was her abdomen. It turned out that she was carrying a false pregnancy.A false or pseudo pregnancy is one in which the signs of pregnancy are exhibited by the woman but there is no baby in her womb! It is often explained that because the woman so desperately longed for a child, her body responded to her desire. People who are familiar with or believe in the existence of the human spirit, and that this spirit inhabits the physical, earthly body in which we all hop up and down in the daily, hourly-burly of earth life. It is evident that the serious volution of this in-dwelling spirit overwhelmed the physical body into submission in what a parapsychologist may describe as mind-over-matter. This phenomenon has been suggested, also, as the cause of some uterine fibroids, which may obstruct or prevent pregnancy or a fulsome development of the foetus. I had difficulty believing it when Mrs. Elizabeth Kafaru first mentioned it. But, later, I became persuaded about the possibility when I read of it in some gynaecology literature, including the book, WOMAN’S BODY, WOMANS WISDOM, by an American female gynaecologist with about 35 years professional experience behind her.

Adhesions in and around the uterus, endometriosis and a womb not well positioned to receive sperm may also inhibit pregnancy.

In men, sperm ducts may be blocked, and sperm may be ejaculated into the man’s bladder, later to be flushed out by urine, rather than to be injected into the vagina. Some of these conditions, as can be seen, are caused by anatomical or structural problems or defects in the reproductive system. I will attempt to describe some of the possible causes of infertility in both genders and suggest Alternative Medicine recipes which folklore medicine has successfully deployed against them over millennia, and which modern scientific research or clinical practices have validated as useful on their own or as adjuncts in complementary medicine therapies. Of course, we know that complementary medicine is the working together of Alternative Medicine and or Traditional Medicine with Orthodox medicine.

The sperm Oligospermia and azoospermia

ABOUT 90 per cent of all male infertility cases are due to low sperm count. For some men, their problems began when they were in the womb. If their mothers’ bodies had more estrogen than normal circulating in them, this female hormone may damage certain cells in the foetal testes called Sertoli cells. These cells produce the “food” which infant sperm cells require for their growth and maturation. If these cells are few in number, it means the food stock would be small. Famine would occur, and natural selection will creep in to ensure survival of the fittest. In this scenario, sperm count would become low (oligospermia), sometimes so ridiculously low that a man beset with this condition may become infertile.

In early childhood, and after puberty an infection, such as mumps may occur. It causes the salivary glands to enlarge. The cheeks and the lower jaw may be swollen. Usually, pain, fever and high temperature follow the swelling. The testicles and the ovaries may enlarge or shrink. If the infection persists for too long, the germs which cause it may destroy the capacity of the testes to produce enough healthy sperm, and this may result in low sperm count or even zero sperm count or azoospermia.

In childhood, adolescence or adult life, other diseases can deal deadly blows on sperm health and count. Nigerian gynaecologists tell us that infections account for about 80 percent of female infertility cases. These infections may also account for a large chunk of low sperm count cases. Gonorrhea and syphilis are well documented Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) which can depopulate the sperm or cause scarring or scars in the spermic ducts, thereby reducing sperm traffic. In the last 10 or 15 or even 20 years, Staphylococcus aureus has almost loomed larger than the capacity of the immune system to contain it. Many men who have a heavy load of it have low sperm count. It is mistaken by some people to be an STD. it is not one. It is, rather, a commensal bacterium. It lives harmlessly… on the skin, in the nostrils and elsewhere. It becomes dangerous when the immune system is weak, and it takes advantage of this slackness to spread its wings. Therefore, in treating staph aureus, as it is also called, immune boosting is inevitable. Staph aureus is stubborn. It doesn’t grow lineally but in mounds. These mounds are difficult for immune cells to penetrate from this fortress. Staph aureus attacks immune cells with toxic chemicals which dissolve their cell walls, thereby killing them. It is an overload of these toxic substances in the blood which can damage bones and nerves which produce the effects of “something crawling all over the body”, as the nerves react to its poisonous and damaging impact. One of the symptoms exhibited by staph aureus infected men and women is infertility. It should be addressed in the treatment of infertility as many infertile people test positive to staph aureus.

There are about 200 million sperm cells in an ejaculation. But it is only one of them that will fertilize the egg. Of the 200 million cells, only about 40 will reach the vicinity of an egg because of the antibody response against them in the woman’s body. Sperm count and quality have been declining worldwide in the last 50 or 80 years. Between 1940 and 1990, sperm count dropped from 113 million to 66 million cell in semen volume has been reducing as well. Researchers estimate that men lost about 40 per cent of the sperm they were capable of producing in 1940. As will soon be discussed, this decline has been attributed to environmental (causes), lifestyle and dietary changes.

One other important factor in sperm count questions is temperature. The testes cannot be optimal inside the body, which is why it is situated outside the body. In the 1950s and 1960s in Nigeria, men wore tight briefs. This increased the heat level in the scrotal region, and would very likely obstruct sperm production. Today, worldwide, the trend is for men to wear boxer briefs. This helps to solve the temperature problem in a way.

 Varicocelle and hydrocelle

A varicocelle is a varicose vein in the testicle which blocks blood circulation. It may cause testicles to shrink and reduce sperm count or cause infertility. Like the varicose vein in the legs, it can be treated. A hydrocelle is collection of fluid in the scrotum which may threaten testicular blood supply.

Sperm Structure

The spermatozoa, the sperm cell, is divided into three basic parts… the head, the neck, the middle piece and the tail. The head contains the nucleus, which houses the genetic information, and a dome-shaped acrosome present on the nucleus. The acrosome releases an enzyme, which destroys the hyaluronic acid of the ovum (egg) to pave the way for it to enter into the ovum. The middle part contains mitochondria or “energy” factories which produce energy for the cell to swim in the female reproductive tract. This is interesting, as we shall see, because mitochondria need certain nutrients to function optimally, an a deficiency of them may affect motility or the capacity to swim. These nutrients include vitamin B Complex, Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and L – Carnitine, a vitamin – like substance which helps the compustive action of the mitochondria. The more the CoQ10 in the body, the more the mitochondria in cells. So, CoQ10 is an important nutrient in male fertility.

The tail helps the sperm cell to swim in the female genital tract. Some sperm cells are so weak that they cannot swim (motility) and their tails may detach from their heads.

Hormones

Hormones play significant roles in our lives. Sex hormones are no less important for our reproductive capacity. As an example, if we come under sever stress and do not have enough stress hormones to tide us over the stress, the body may convert sex hormones to stress hormones to save our lives. Our libido would crash. And our sex hormones may run out of balance with one another. All sorts of infertility problems would begin to develop.

The story of male sex hormones begins somewhat in the hypothalamus, an endocrine gland in the brain. It produces Gonodo  thropin hormone (GnRH). GnRH stimulates the pituary gland, also in the brain, to produce the following hormones.

•Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

•Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and

•Prolactin

LH stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone, the main male hormone. FSH stimulates Sertoli toproduce spermbut not as much as testosterone does.

Testosterone suppresses production of female hormones. Thus, in low testosterone status, female hormones elevate in the male body and fertility capacity is impaired. These hormones must remain in specific balance or ratios. Elevations disrupt balance and fertility. In this case, we must look for herbs which knock them into the right formations. A high prolactin level in males may obstruct sperm production. In females, it may block ovulation. In females, it supports breast milk production during pregnancy.

Genital ducts

If nothing goes wrong with the sertoli and leydig cells of the testes, if the hormones are in the right quantum and doing their jobs well, and enough healthy sperm are produced, we must examine their delivery through a network of ducts to the penis, and from there into the vagina. They consist of the

•Epididymis (about 20 ft long)

•Vas deferens

•Seminal vesicle

•Ejaculatory duct.

There are many accessory sex glands on the way, each of which provides nutrients which aid sperm motility and provide more food, prostaglandins, a hormone – like substance, produced from essential fatty acids (Omega Oils), make the mucus of the vagina and cervix to make them more hospitable to sperm. Sperm may get killed if prostaglandins are absent. The mucus is to prevent foreign bodies from entering the cervix and the uterus. Absence of prostaglandins because of deficiencies of essential fatty acids in the diet may be, therefore, the cause of sperm reflux in some women. Sperm reflux is a condition in which the sperm is caught in the mucus web and thrown out of the woman’s body through the vagina.

Prostaglandins are said to also cause contractions in the uterus and fallopian tubes which help to move the sperm forward towards the ovary and the egg. Fibrinogen, produced in the accessory glands, combines with secretions of the prostate gland to make coagulate that holds the semen together after ejaculation. The coagulate dissolves about 20 minutes after ejaculation, and the sperm become motile. If the coagulate is too strong and would not easily dissolve, and there is no Lecithin and vitamin E to help this process, this may be bad news.

If all goes well, we can wish the sperm a safe journey to the egg.  We would now have to examine Alternative Medical or natural solutions to some male infertility Problems.

We must begin by first applying the principle of THE NEW BIOLOGY OF HEALTH. It is an old health paradigm dusted up by physicians a little over a decade ago. Dr Robert Young, a leading light of this new frontier of medicine, says in his book, pH Miracle, that if the fish in an acquarium is sick we do not remove it from the water and take it to a veterinary doctor for a healing injection. Rather, we would change the water, to rid the habitat of wastes and poisions which deprived the fish of oxygen, poisoned and made it sick. In their states of biochemical dysfunctions, our cells and organs can be likened to this fish. Dr young and other advocates of pH medicine say that, in dysfunctional conditions, our blood and organs are acidic and toxic and should be restored to point 7.4 on the pH scale of 0 to 14 in which readings below 7 are acidic and above 7 are alkaline. The people of Okinawa, Japan, have validated this idea. Guiness Book of Records researchers have found them to be among the world’s oldest, yet healthiest, people. Their diet is not remarkably different from that of other peoples. But their water is. It is alkaline, unpoisoned with chlorine or other toxic water treatment chemicals, seeping fresh, as made by Mother Nature, with all the alkalising minerals which compose the human body and keep it in biochemical balance.

So, I would suggest

Detoxification