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Improving sperm count & motility is possible!

Hello lovely ladies and gents,

Mr Llama and I want to share our experience in the hope that it might help or at least reassure some of you out there that improving sperm is possible! It seems there's been almost no medical research done in this area so here's a personal case study for you...

We started on our ivf journey a year ago with the news that hubby's sperm was 'too low in every way' for us to conceive naturally and that ivf would be our only chance of getting preggers. (That was a baaaaad day.) The count was around 3 million with very low motility (progressive swimmers 3%).

I asked the doc if vitamins or a lifestyle change would help and he shrugged. The next thing we know, the focus is only on me and Mr Llama's swimmers are basically left to paddle in his guilt. So we started on the ivf rollercoaster journey. But we'd done a bit of research and hubby started on the vitamins:

Daily: folic acid, cod liver oil and high dosage zinc.

Regularly but not daily: high dosage vitamin c, selenium and co enzyme q10. Also macha powder in smoothies.

He also cut back on the booze and caffiene (but didn't give up completely) and had an acupuncture session every couple of weeks or so. We also made sure we had sex a couple of times a week even when I wasn't fertile to keep the little swimmers nice and fresh.

4 months later sperm count and motility had improved but were still low.

Another 4 months and at egg collection we were told the sperm on that day were much better - to the point that they did half ivf and half icsi rather than all icsi as had been planned.

And now, 11 months later, we requested another test and the scores are in! Count is up to 50 million with 66% motility and 56% progressive motiliy. Wowza! Considering where we'd started this was a massive improvement.

Sadly we still haven't managed to conceive but while we continue with ivf (might as well as we have another frostie to pop back in) we now also have the hope that it might happen naturally after all.

Of course, we don't know if it was all of these things that made the difference or just one. We're keeping it all up just to be sure!

So, huge improvements are possible! X

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Wow this is amazing! Just goes to show that there are ways in which sperm count and quality can be improved. We are currently going through our first ICSI cycle. My husband has had four sperm analyses and although the results varied in terms of count and motility, none came back within a normal range. In fact, our consultant sent him a lovely letter saying the 'count was low and quality poor'. Just like that. His most recent one in February showed the count had increased to 16 million but his motility had dropped to 10% (had previously been 30%). He does have a 'significant' varicocele but has been advised to leave it alone at the moment. At the moment he is on Omega 3, Wellman, Zinc, Selenium, Co-Q10, Vit C (sometimes), Magnesium and Vit D. Can I ask why your husband doesn't take Selenium and Co-Q10 every day? My husband has been taking it daily for months at my request and I'm now worrying we are doing the wrong thing!

Best of luck with your next round, I really hope it is a success for you both. Thanks for sharing your positive story, I bet you and your husband felt pleased to hear of such a positive improvement! Xx

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Thanks for your reply Lou9! Re the selenium and Co q10, I think we both felt that popping loads of pills every day might be a bit much! Not really sure why as I guess the body only absorbs what it needs (?) Instead we both try to eat healthily and include things like brazil nuts as a natural selenium source.

I guess there's no way of knowing without proper studies what really makes a difference. I'm sure there are loads of other things out there that could help too, but something, whatever it was, seems to have worked for us. I just wish more medical research into improving sperm quality was done as it could really make a difference.

Wishing you both the very best for your journey! x

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Wishing you lots and lots of luck too Llama1. Thanks again for sharing! Xx

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That's great news! We have the same issue, I only wish that my husband was as motivated as yours. Whenever I suggest something to try, he puts a wall up. I've had to smuggle the Macha powder in to his food 😂

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Sounds like trying to get my cats to eat their medicine - also involves a bit of smuggling!

Do you know why he's so resistant? Is it guilt? Mr Llama said that when we first got the news he shut down. The way the doc said it was that this has probably always been the situation and probably always will be which is really disempowering to hear. But we've since been told by our consultant that actually sperm results often go up and down all the time and no one knows why.

I guess the point of my post was to say that things can change and not to let a couple of sets of results define you.

I hope your husband sees the sense in taking some vitamins if that's what you'd like to try. Good luck! x

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I think he just needs to be told that he has to do these things by someone other than me. He's not too great at sticking to things long-term.

I was frustrated but at least he doesn't smoke and rarely drinks as having to give something up can be a lot harder than adding things to his diet :)

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Good that you don't have the smoking-drinking battle on your hands at least. It seems a lot of women have that to deal with which is rubbish.

It's such a shame the docs don't tell men that things can change. It would really make a difference to mens' attitudes I think.

If it helps, my hubby says to tell your hubby to give the vitamins a try! 😊

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I feel your pain Lamorna80, my hubby resisted pretty much everything I asked him to do because the doc told him his count was a bit low & there's was nothing he could do about it so we needed icsi. As it turns out, he's now been diagnosed with oligoasthenoteratozoospermia. He did go through phases of trying different things & for nearly 4 months he gave up drinking but he felt that he'd done everything he could then & went back to normal. I did get him to take some supplements at various times but we had so many arguments about it - it was like trying to make an angry child eat their greens! His diet isn't great although it is better than it was. He will generally refuse to eat half the veg I put on his plate though if it's green... men! I feel bad saying it but I do blame him a little that I will never have my own biological child now as my egg reserve has gone down so much in the last 4 years we now need a donor. Xxx

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Wow, that's a mouthful of a diagnosis! It's awful when you feel resentful for all the effort you put in yet he only has to take relatively simple steps and still doesn't cooperate. It really felt like banging my head against a wall.

We never argued about it but some days I was really bottling it up and secretly seething. It probably shows our communication isn't the greatest but I was trying not to get him more stressed about the situation. In reality it just made things worse for me.

They didn't say what his sample was like this time and I didn't want to ask. If we have to go for round 3, we'll use a different clinic and he'll have to be tested again. I may make it known to the doctors then that they need to have words with him & stress the importance of his role in it all. I always wonder whether he should have more investigations to work out exactly why he has such low sperm count/mobility/motility but it's never even an option.

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The doctors really don't seem that interested in finding out why do they?!

Xx

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Wow, that's amazing!!

It wasn't just us that were basically told that there was nothing we could do to improve it & we had to have ivf then. 4 years down the road my egg reserve has gone right down & hubby has given up trying to improve his now so we're having donor eggs - again it's back to me. I'm losing out in a way when it could have been so different if there was more research & better education for men.

Will look forward to hearing if you have any surprises!!

Xxxx

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Sorry to hear you've had such a difficult time. I think I'm going to send a letter to our original doctor pleading with him to share bad news re sperm tests in a less devastating way. It wouldn't take much to explain that things can change and to suggest a few things to try. Hopefully then the men who have to deal with this news wouldn't feel so disempowered and be more motivated to change. Maybe!

Sending you good luck for a happy outcome with the donor eggs xx

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Thanks for posting this mr and mrs llama! Did you take it all individually or use something like wellman fertility?

My hubby is really keen to try and improve things on his own but there is so little guidance from docs. Like a few have said on here once the poor guys get the 'your swimmers don't swim to well soz dude' it's all about the ladies. He's asked about lifestyle and dietary changes and just gets the 'oh poor fool thinks he can change this' look!

Good luck with your frostie transfer ❤️

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The docs really aren't very encouraging are they!

He took everything individually rather than in a single pill. I think the zinc and vitamin c dosage is lower in the mixed capsules and this is what we'd heard needed to be high.

Saying that, we don't know exactly what made the difference, and it looks like the Wellman tablets have loads of good stuff in so that might be enough too.

It's all a bit of a mystery but I think the main thing is that change is possible, it might just take a bit of trying different things!

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Thank you for your informative post. My OH was interested to read it. 😊

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Thanks KatieMaria, I'm glad it was useful! Good luck with your journey.

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That's fantastic news thanks for sharing! We've had some improvements too, though not as dramatic as yours - went from 3 to 4 million, 18% motility, to 8 million, 35% motility at our last ICSI cycle. I think for us it was the vitamins he was taking but mostly I attribute it to him stopping his DAILY baths!! (That's way too much for a normal person, and definitely too much for a ttc guy!!) (They were always super hot too.) We're going to try again in a few months so I figure that gives more time for his swimmers to keep improving.

Can I ask why you chose to do half IVF / half ICSI? Was that something recommended by your doctor? Do you know what the minimum sperm count is for doing IVF (over ICSI)? It seems the default these days is ICSI but I do wonder if letting the sperm fight it out results in stronger embryos. Haven't done much research on it though hence asking what your thoughts are on it!

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Hi nomonkeys, the plan had been to do all icsi based on the previous sperm results. But as the motility and count was much better on the day of egg collection (can't remember the figures I'm afraid) the consultant told us they had decided to go ahead and try half and half. I also had loads of eggs (around 50! I have borderline polycystic ovaries) so I guess that probably influenced their decision too as they had lots to play with.

I had 27 that fertilised in the end, half of which were ivf and the other half icsi. Out of these only 2 ended up making it to blastocyst stage, one ivf and one icsi, so it seems they were about as strong (or not, in my case!) as each other.

I expect that each clinic has guideline numbers that dictate whether they do ivf or icsi, or try both. They'd probably be happy to share these if asked.

X

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