Male Fertility Boosters

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midlife motherhood

Infertility is an equal opportunity condition. Although women get most of the attention, in nearly half of all couples, it's the man who has a problem. At last, researchers are finding out how men can improve their chances of starting a family.

Check your numbers Babystart Male Fertility Test ($40, www.lakeconsumer.com), the first FDA-approved home sperm-count test, alerts a man if there are fewer than 20 million sperm in a millimeter of semen, the number that the World Health Organization deems a low sperm count, suggesting infertility.

Lift up the laptop Sitting with a computer on his lap for as little as an hour boosts the temperature of a man's genitals by almost 6 degrees F, finds a new study from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. (Research has shown that sperm quality and quantity are reduced with a 2 degree F increase above normal.) Scrotal temperatures were delicately measured on 29 male laptop users ages 21 to 35 and compared with those of men who sat without one. Putting the laptop on a briefcase or folded newspaper won't do; men should set the computer on a table or a desk, say researchers.

Be wary of testosterone Gels and patches that contain testosterone help raise libido and sexual performance, but these drugs can diminish sperm count by reducing the body's own testosterone production. Testosterone users should go off it at least 3 months before trying to conceive, says Robert Brannigan, MD, a urologist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

Don't mess with mesh Polypropylene mesh is used in 80% of the estimated 700,000 inguinal hernia surgeries done on men each year. The mesh closes the tiny gap in abdominal wall muscles that allows the intestine to bulge into the groin. But the vas deferens, through which sperm swim from the testes to the penis, can get trapped in the mesh, says Larry Lipshultz, MD, a Baylor College of Medicine urologist who studied 13 men left sterile by the surgery. He suggests asking the surgeon to use the body's own tissue or SpermaTex, a mesh designed to protect the vas deferens.

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By Rachelle Vander Schaaf

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