Trak Product Review: How I boosted my sperm count

This Trak product review was submitted by an anonymous Don’t Cook your Balls reader who wanted to share his experience and encourage others to get healthier

This post was submitted by a Don’t Cook your Balls reader who wanted to share his experience using the Trak Fertility Male Testing System.

A personal story about cutting the crap, getting healthy and feeling like a man.

I’ve never been much of “healthy person”. In fact, “healthy people” have always found a way to rub me just the wrong way. Whether it be Whole Foods, kale, or their latest religion (Crossfit), I generally find health crazes and those who follow them insufferable. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means naturally unhealthy.

Growing up I was naturally thin and pretty much never stopped moving. I didn’t have much of an appetite and very rarely ever ate large meals. On top of this I love playing sports. As a kid, I could always be found on some type of field or court. I loved running, jumping and playing whatever game I could find people to play with me. I lifted weights. I ran. I was active. Every physical and doctor checkup took about 5 minutes. “Look’s good!” I was naturally healthy.

Then, I went to college. I think we all know how this story goes. When I first started college, I (like all my fellow freshman) were given a dietary blank check in the form of a meal plan.  Amazing food was available 24/7 through an all-you-can-eat buffet in the cafeteria. Whatever and whenever you felt like eating, you could eat.  It was glorious. And even though I didn’t gain much weight (thank you metabolism), I did learn the fine art of “smashing”, eating enough in one sitting to feed a small family without thinking twice. I also met a new friend that year. His name was Beer and we are still friends to this day.

These habits continued throughout my college years. Drinking would soon be joined by social smoking and I was off and running on my way to the new American Dream of an unhealthy lifestyle. The only thing that kept me from truly overindulging was being too broke or lazy to keep up the excess. As I got more independent, all you can eat dorm buffets were replaced with McDonald’s value meals and dollar store cookies. There was almost never any fruits and vegetables on my paper plate. But that wasn’t worst part. The worst part was I never saw it as a problem. I didn’t drink that much. I didn’t smoke that much. I didn’t eat that poorly. And besides, it’s college right? Surely I’d grow out of it.

The worst part was I never saw it as a problem. I didn’t drink that much. I didn’t smoke that much. I didn’t eat that poorly. And besides, it’s college right? Surely I’d grow out of it.

After college I took a desk job with my old man’s company and moved into an apartment with my best friend from college. It was like college never ended. The first year or so out of school can be summed up as a late night cigarette after Taco Bell on the way home from the bar at 2 AM. It wasn’t good. But still I told myself,

“You’re fine”

“Everything is fine in moderation” (a phrase I continued to loosen the meaning of).

But then something else happened to me, I met a girl.

When we first started dating, I kept all my vices in check. It’s amazing how much a man can clean up his act when faced with the prospect of an interested woman. For almost 6 months, I was my healthy self again. There was very little in the way of smoking, drinking, or overeating. But it didn’t stick. We fell in love, life got comfortable and I didn’t feel as compelled to impress her. It didn’t bother her too much when I followed unhealthy calls from my college years.

After 3 years I proposed and we were married. I felt responsible. Now I finally would be able to settle in and live the healthy lifestyle of a married man. Nope. It was more of the same. I did spend fewer nights out at the bar and ate less fast food, but I also stopped exercising as much. I’d plant my ass at a desk for 8 hours a day then come home and instead of playing sports with the guys as I had always done, I’d opt for Netflix with the Mrs. My “unhealthy self” was always there.

Now I finally would be able to settle in and live the healthy lifestyle of a married man. Nope. It was more of the same.

A year into our marriage we decided it was time for a baby. It was a bit scary to think about myself as a dad but I was totally on board. Finally, I would grow up and start taking better care of myself, plus I can’t lie, I was pretty excited about the whole “lots of sex” thing. We got pregnant almost immediately (bummer on the sex thing). Nine months later, my son was born and I was his father. Me. Mr. Taco Bell Cigarette had himself a perfect, healthy, baby boy. I had graduated college, gotten married, bought a house and had a son, and none of my unhealthy vices had stopped me. So nothing really changed.

Two years later it came time for #2. We planned out exactly when we would get pregnant in order to sync up the right timing on the calendar with my wife’s school year (she taught 5th grade at a local school). It would be ideal if the baby would come at the beginning of summer. We thought we could make a plan, and life would happen that way. When the right month came, we started trying.

First month. Nothing.

Second month. Nothing.

After 6 months we still had no baby. What the hell was going on?

It was so easy the first time. We thought about going to get tested, but didn’t even know what that even meant. Where should we go? What do we test? and most of all, how much would all that cost?!

We began to feel depressed and defeated. That’s when I saw Trak. An easy, at home test to measure my sperm count. Seemed like a logical first step even though I was probably fine. I mean after all, I had already proven I was totally able to make new life happen.

I’ll never forget that first test. I’ll spare you the step-by-step details, but it ended with the two of us staring at a small blue strip with a thin orange line. My result was nowhere near it. My count wasn’t even half of what it needed to be. I was crushed. I took the accompanying survey on the App and before I knew it I was actually on the verge of tears. As it turned out, I was 30 now and my unhealthy lifestyle had finally caught up with me and had done a number on my swimmers. I made a promise to my wife that night that I would cut out the crap and get that damn score up and over that line.

I’ll never forget that first test…I was crushed.

For the next two months I was finally determined to cut out the nonsense that was keeping me from having what I wanted and what she deserved. I thought of the 9 agonizing months she spent sacrificing her mind and body while our son was growing inside her. I thought of the 18 grueling hours she spent straining and groaning through labor as he pushed his way out. Now it was my time for sacrifice. Cheeseburgers became Bell peppers. Cigarettes became sunflower seeds. Beer became…well, less beer (turns out some is still OK). It was good for our relationship. It was good for my body. But most of all it was good for my soul. I was able to finally find a purpose to get rid of the unhealthy garbage of my 20’s.

It was good for our relationship. It was good for my body. But most of all it was good for my soul.  I was able to finally find a purpose to get rid of the unhealthy garbage of my 20’s.

After 2 months, we tested me again. We did the test in a rush because I was late for a flag football game so I didn’t have time to stick around for the result. When the game was over I checked my phone. All that was on there was a text from her with a picture of that small blue strip with that thin orange line. Except this time, I was clear over the top with room to spare! Under the picture were the words “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working. Thank you. I love you”

I know what it feels like to catch a big fish, to hit a 300 yard drive or to fix the brakes on my car. But right then and there is the first time I truly felt like a MAN. Thanks for getting me back on Trak.

Mega Biceps, Mini Balls

In this episode of Urologist Nerds Drinking Beer, the doctors discuss the long term health effects of using steroids which can include permanent infertility.

Using steroids has devastating effects on your fertility, and can actually make you permanently infertile. In this episode of Urologist Nerds Drinking Beer, the guys talk about what they see happening in their clinic when young men try to get buffed by juicing up.

Ever walked around a gym wondering how all those guys got so ripped? It could very well be the result of honest hard work, but maybe some of those guys are actually cutting the line. Steroid use is more common than you might think. It is estimated that 3 to 4 million people in the US have used steroids, and most people start in their early 20s [1]. It kind of makes sense; around that age you might start to see the first wear and tear of your college lifestyle on your body. I have felt that. After all, getting to be called beer pong champion required a lot of training and some sacrifices as well…

The real effects of steroids

Risks for your fertility associated with Steroid use are mini balls and having a low to zero sperm count. The real risk here is that the longer you use steroids, the more risk you have of being permanently infertile. Shooting up may lead to not shooting anything at all, ever!

Other adverse effects range from acne and man boobs to liver cancer. So you get your muscle, but you also get a puberty physique for free and a chance of getting very very sick! Try to ask some girls what they think about your muscles when all they can look at is a crater-face.


The best advice it to not use steroids in the first place! It’s a double whammy; you will not experience the downsides of steroids, and working out without is actually a great way to help your balls create more of those little heroes. There are other ways to maximize gains in the gym without resorting to steroid use.

But what if you are already on them? It can be a challenge to get off, and it is key you come clean about this to your doc as soon as possible. Doctors see it a lot and have quite a few tricks up their sleeves to help you meet your goals while protecting your health. It takes about 6-12 months before your sperm is back, sometimes even longer. You can work together with your doctor to slowly get off steroids without having a major crash.

Don’t get your fix, but try to fix it!


On a final note a lighthearted steroid love song 🙂


The Urologist Nerds Drinking Beer YouTube series was produced by Path 2 Parenthood, an inclusive organization committed to helping people create their families by providing leading-edge outreach programs and timely educational information. You can learn more or support their work by visiting their website

Reference: Pope, H. G., Kanayama, G., Athey, A., Ryan, E., Hudson, J. I., & Baggish, A. (2014). The lifetime prevalence of anabolic‐androgenic steroid use and dependence in Americans: Current best estimates. The American Journal on Addictions23(4), 371-377.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row]

#FlatBagger: Surviving Testicular Cancer, Twice

My name is Matt, I’m 36 years young from Birmingham, UK and I have the distinct honor of being a FlatBagger (a double testicular cancer survivor!)

My name is Matt, I’m 36 years young from Birmingham, UK and I have the distinct honor of being a FlatBagger (a double testicular cancer survivor!)

I was 20 when I first had this disease, in the summer of 2000. I knew very little about it so I was happy to ignore the lump on my left testicle for around 9 months until I decided to get it checked out. When I first found it, the lump was the size of a pea; when I got it looked at it was the size of my middle and index finger put together. I had surgery to remove the nut, and even though I had left it for so long, it was still in stage one. I had radiotherapy to kill off any cancer cells that may have spread. I was warned, however, that the radiation may destroy my fertility, so prior to the treatment I froze some sperm, in case I wanted to have any kids in the future. I was single at the time, but when I met Corinne, who went on to become my fiance, we decided we wanted to have our own family.

After a year of trying, I went for a sperm test, and we were upset to find out while the radiotherapy had done it’s job, it had also decimated my sperm count (an average ejaculation produces over a million sperm; mine was less than a 100). So, we went down the IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) route. We had it done free of charge, seeing as I had testicular cancer. On New Year’s Day 2008 we got the ball rolling with the IVF, with Corinne very bravely injecting herself everyday for a month to stimulate her ovaries until her eggs could be harvested, mixed with my frozen sperm and two embryos implanted back into her. It was a success; Samuel and Bethany were born in august 2008, three months premature but are now very healthy.

By 2014 my fiance and I were having fun trying for a third baby when I found a lump on my remaining ball; this time I didn’t waste anytime and got it seen to ASAP (the urologist I saw said it was the smallest testicle lump he had ever examined!).Fertility was brought up, and the offer was presented to freeze some sperm for IVF. We decided against it, mainly because we already had our little miracles, but also in light of us already having children, we would be expected to pay for the IVF (around £2,700). I had an operation to become a FlatBagger and once again it was in stage one. I had a cycle of carboplatin chemotherapy. I recently came out of remission, and I am now on six monthly check up’s.

I view my cancer experiences as a gift, not a curse. It opened my eyes and showed me how strong I am and what life is about. I am now dedicated to raising awareness of this vile disease so lives can be saved!


New Year’s Resolution for Your Balls

Another year, another moment of “Damnit, I never came up with a new year’s resolution!

So you could shrug, and pick “get in shape” and pay for gym membership you know you’ll never use, again. Or, you could think about your balls, and make a New Year’s Resolution to improve your fertility!


Get Moving

Alright, I can’t deny that exercise is great for male fertility. It increases your natural testosterone production, which will help you to produce sperm.

Personally though, I don’t like setting myself BIG goals. “Get in Shape” feels like a giant insurmountable elephant, that “I’ll get around too later”. Let’s break the elephant up into small pieces, was once my dad’s advice to me.

new years resolution

So let’s take a step back from the cliche of “Get in Shape” and instead say to ourselves “Get Moving!”

Your goal doesn’t have to be, “to have killer abs in 3 months”. Just go for a walk in the woods. Maybe check out your local Audubon Bird Watching Society. Do some gardening, volunteer to clean up rivers, or just take a hike to a enjoy beautiful view once a month.

For me, martial arts and swordfighting was when I finally got into sports, because I’m a competitive person and you can win a duel. That has always motivated me far more than a good lap time.

So pick small, manageable goals that keep you active and that actually interest you, and build from there.

Get Cooking

Caffeinated sodas, foods high in saturated fat, all these are bad for your fertility.  So let’s eat healthier by cooking for ourselves more this year!

Not only can we cut out of lot of foods that are bad for fertility, but we can focus ones that are great for you and your sperm! Foods like avocado, broccoli, nuts, seafood, beans, asparagus, tomatoes and even dark chocolate, are all good for your fertility for different reasons.

Fertility superfoods food

Personally, I love cooking, but I know it can be daunting for a lot of people.

For a cookbook, I’d suggest Good and Cheap. It’s good, and well…cheap. Free to download as a PDF in fact! Originally written to help people living on $4 day, Good and Cheap has a focus on cheap ingredients that last a long time, and uses them in a wide variety of recipes. None of that “well I bought all these quail eggs and saffron for this one recipe, now what?” malarkey. You’ll find a dozen different ways to use a core set of affordable foods.

You can check out our own recipe for Asparagus Chicken, or alternatively, you could also try Blue Apron, who will mail you a recipe with all the ingredients you need in a neat little package.

If you do want to start cooking, and to keep it up, I’d highly suggest getting yourself a good knife. Sure the set from Ikea is pretty good, but I’m talking about getting yourself something professional. My dad gave me an engraved Japanese steel knife for Christmas once, cut clean through an avocado pit without any effort. True story, and believe me, once you feel those vegetables slice like butter, you’ll discover how little work cooking can be.


Stop Smoking

Perhaps about as cliche as “Get in Shape”, but stopping smoking is a big one that is good for you and your fertility.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers on this subject, but I know that your doctor can provide you with options to help you quit.

Personally, I know a friend of mine quit by snacking on Sunflower seeds. She said the peeling the seeds, while not only healthy snack, also gave her hands something to do. Asking around the office, someone said their grandma once quit by picking up a Nintendo Entertainment System back in the day, and replacing her habit with video games!

Like everything in life, you’re going to have to find what works for you. But definitely start by contacting you doctor.


Get a Good’s Night Sleep

I know…easier said than done, right? But a good night’s sleep, as well as feeling less stressed in your daily life, can do wonders for your sperm count and make you feel happier overall.

So let’s get the easy stuff out of the way:

  • First of all, avoid caffeine in all its forms after 3pm. Maybe even set that back to 2pm or noon to be on the safe side.
  • Next we’re going to avoid electronic screens from phones, tablets and laptops before bed. Let your eyes adjust to the dark, and make the room you’re sleeping as dark as you possibly can.
  • Finally, do your best to stick to a routine. Personally, I’ve found setting a hard bed-time difficult to stick to. Instead, I prefer to set a time to start winding down, brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed.

Now I don’t suppose these tips would work for everyone, so do also consult your doctor on advice for getting a good night’s sleep.


Don’t Cook Your Balls!

It’s goes without saying that our mantra continues to ring true. Air them out a bit lads, we’re talking loose boxers here, and keep that laptop of your lap!

Now, we said earlier that you could go for “Get Moving” as a New Year’s Resolution, but if you do, avoid lyrca shorts and anything tight fitting. Bicycling isn’t going to do your fertility any favours either.

For “Get Cooking”, definitely a good diet is good for your balls, but direct heat applied to your groin from a stove or oven is also a problem. So consider investing in a protective apron, or letting your partner take over if you need to be in front of the stove for a long time. You can even clean the chopping board while she takes over. Teamwork!

For a real cool solution, you can check out our friends at SnowBalls for wearable ball chilling technology.


Well, I hope this article has given you some inspiration for a New Year’s Resolution for your Balls.

If you want to learn more about steps you can take to improve your fertility, you can check out “A Man’s Guide to Reproductive Health” from TRAK fertility.


Written by Eliot Miller, you can find me on Twitter


Do Receipts affect Male Fertility?

You find them in your pocket, crumpled up under the seat of your car, some restaurants even use them to wrap their food in. Receipts are one of those things that you rarely notice or care about, but that seem to be everywhere. And for the most part, save the danger of littering, they really are no big deal. However, over exposure to receipt paper affects male fertility more than you would expect.

<< Topics | Get Tested

You find them in your pocket, crumpled up under the seat of your car, some restaurants even use them to wrap their food in. Receipts are one of those things that you rarely notice or care about, but that seem to be everywhere. And for the most part, save the danger of littering, they really are no big deal. However, over exposure to receipt paper affects male fertility more than you would expect. 

What do receipts do to male fertility?

The thermal paper that receipts are printed on contains high amounts of BPA. BPA is a chemical that’s used to coat thermal paper- making the paper heat-resistant so that it can withstand the process of thermal printing. While BPA does great things for paper and plastic- making it resistant to heat and electricity- it does some pretty crappy things to your hormonal system.

BPA is what’s known as an endocrine disruptor. Essentially, BPA mimics estrogen, binding to estrogen receptors and causing your body to think it has more estrogen. This leads to a hormonal imbalance, causing testosterone production to drop off.

Testosterone is responsible for your manly attributes-the low voice, hairy chest, big muscles. It’s also crucial for your reproductive system- especially your sperm quality. When your testosterone production is impacted, your body’s sperm production grinds to a halt. This may be why a recent study found that men with high traces of BPA in their urine were found to have 23% lower sperm concentration, 13% decline in morphology, 7.5% decrease in sperm motility and a 10% increase in sperm damage.

How much exposure is too much?

This doesn’t mean that you should panic when you get handed a receipt. The occasional receipt won’t torch your testosterone, and honestly, it probably won’t don’t anything to you. The real issue is when you consistently handle a large amount of receipts printed on thermal paper. We’re talking hours of handling receipts. One study found that after two hours of constantly handling receipts, BPA levels were three times higher, four hours post-exposure and climbed to five times higher, eight hours post-exposure. So while the average Joe isn’t overexposed to receipts, guys in retail jobs or other positions where receipts are continuously handled should take precautions against BPA exposure.

What should I do?

Go green.  A lot of stores now offer an emailed receipt. This is great option for avoiding the clutter of receipts, and protecting your fertility. If you’re consistently dealing with receipts at work, you may want to try using protective gloves when handling them.

Another thing to avoid? Touching receipts after applying anything that could increase absorption. This includes lotion and hand-sanitizers, which contain ingredients that make the product more skin-absorbent. If you apply these before touching a receipt, these ingredients can also help your skin absorb BPA. Greasy food can make the transport of BPA to your skin easier, so be careful eating those fries while grabbing a receipt.

6 Habits That Wreck Your Sex Life (And How to Fix Them)

What you do can have an impact on your sex life. Learn 6 habits that can harm your fertility and cause issues in the bedroom

Having problems in the bedroom? It’s nothing to be ashamed of: 30 million men in America are affected by it, and nearly 50% of men over 40. Why is ED so common? Well, aside from potential medical issues, there are several popular habits that can keep you from standing at attention and cause other problems in bed.


1. Heavy Drinking

Being a Keg Stand King may be a big hit with the ladies, but chances are, all that alcohol kept you from sealing the deal with any of them (and not just because of your drunk Robert De Niro  impression). Heavy drinking (drinking 15 drinks or more per week) can lead to a difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection. This is due to several factors (which we go into it more in our Alcohol and Male Fertility article), including alcohol slowing down your body’s response time. This means that even when you’re being…ahem…stimulated, it will still take a while for your body to actually achieve an erection. The mind may be willing, but the body is having trouble catching up.

How to fix it: Cut back on the drinking. Reducing the amount you drink can also work wonders outside of the bedroom: it can cut out extra calories, save you money, and boost your sperm count.


2. Steroid Use

Not all steroid users are meat heads that juice up whenever they get the chance. Some steroid use can be regulated and safe. However, when it comes to sex, consistent, heavy steroid use can torch your testosterone levels. When you start using these supplements, you feel like Superman, with a higher sex-drive and improved erections. As you continue to use supplements, you feel less and less like Superman and more and more dependent on these supplements just to make you feel normal. This drop in testosterone impairs your ability to achieve an erection, as well as your sex drive, and if abused long-term, these effects can be permanent. While studies are still ongoing, a link has been found between low-testosterone and premature ejaculation.

How to fix it: Avoid the juice. A lot of the benefits that you get from steroids can be mimicked by naturally boosting your testosterone. Notice that we said naturally boosting testosterone. Those artificial creams, gels and injections can be just as bad or even worse for your family jewels than steroids. We go into more detail about the impact of testosterone supplements in our Quick Guide to Testosterone.


3. Poor Diet

We get it. It can be hard to maintain a healthy diet. Yes, that donut ice cream sandwich is practically challenging you to eat it. Yes, there are times when that Baconator is making us an offer we can’t refuse. And yes, sometimes the McRib is back. But a diet that’s high in fat or sugar can really impact your performance in the sack. Overindulging in your sweet tooth can lead to an increase in aromatase- an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. As discussed earlier, testosterone is critical in achieving and maintaining an erection. Having a diet that’s too high in fat can lead to high blood pressure and impact your circulatory system. Your circulatory system is a big player in your sex life: it determines your erectile function as well as your sexual stamina.

How to Fix It: Eat less crap. We sound harsh, we know. But this is pretty simple (notice that we didn’t say it was easy…). You don’t have to immediately empty your kitchen of the fun stuff. Start with baby steps, like subbing your usual potato chips for an apple, or cutting out soda from your diet.


4. Smoking

Cigarettes wreak all sorts of havoc on your body. For now, let’s focus on what smoking is doing to your penis. When you smoke, your blood pressure rises, which could lead to weak or infrequent erections. Smoking can also cause your testosterone levels to dip, which not only impacts your erection, but also how long you last in bed. It also reduces your semen volume and affects the taste of your semen (you can imagine the kind of repercussions this has in bed).

How to Fix It: If quitting were easy, it’s a pretty safe bet that you would have done it already. It’s hard. But the amount of benefits you’ll get from quitting go far beyond the bedroom. American Lung Association has a great list of resources to help you quit.

Mark Twain reclines on a sofa with a book. --- Image by © CORBIS

5. Sitting for too long

It’s hard to get moving in today’s world. Studies have found the average American guy spends about 13 hours sitting. That’s over half the day and about 83% of your waking hours spent sitting down. While too much sitting can lead to a myriad of health problems, some studies have linked too much sitting with erectile dysfunction. One study even found the 90% of men who sit for a long  duration of time suffered from ED. This is largely due to inactivity impairing your circulatory system.

How to Fix It: Get moving! Take the stairs instead of the elevator, take standing breaks, walk to a co-workers office instead of sending an email.


6. Biking

On the other end of the spectrum is biking too much. Don’t get us wrong: biking is a fantastic way to get in shape- it’s easy on the joints, there aren’t any hefty gym fees, and you can easily incorporate it into your daily life. It’s a great way to burn extra calories and improve your cardiac fitness. Where it gets tricky is the bicycle seat. When you bike with a standard bicycle seat, a large amount of pressure is placed on the nerves and arteries connected to the penis. This can lead to nerve damage, which can initially feel like tingling or numbness. If this pressure continues, it can lead to more serious nerve damage which can significantly impair your erectile function.

How to Fix It: You don’t need to stop cycling-it’s an awesome habit to have. But you do have two options: either limit the duration of your bike rides, or purchase a different seat. There are now several “no nose” seat options that range in price from around $40-$270.

Everyone has some kind of issue with sex. The important thing is to not let it get in the way of your daily life and your relationship. We hope this list helps you and your partner get back to doing what comes naturally.

That moment you find out you have awful sperm…

“…that’s when the emotions started hitting. I thought about the very distinct possibility that I wouldn’t have kids to play with my brother’s kids. I would break down here and there…”

This anonymous post was written in honor of the Making Dad’s summit and Men’s Health Month. Male infertility is much more common than we are led to believe. Millions of men carry this burden in silence. By breaking the silence, we can have conversations that heal, that offer hope and that advance our understanding of this difficult condition.

My wife and I got married 3 years ago, this month. Before getting married, we had been living in a two bedroom apartment, which we shared with another roommate. After getting married, my wife, pretty reasonably, was like, “Hey, it would be nice if we got our own place.” I caved, since that’s what you do when you get married. We moved to the suburbs, where we had plenty of friends, but they pretty much all had kids. I was good with it, but we weren’t ready to have kids just yet.Fast forward a couple of years, and we felt pretty settled, solid in our jobs, and ready to take that step. We were approaching our mid 30’s, and my wife had warned me that, kids didn’t come easy to her older sister, and it’d probably take a little time. My older brother had popped out 2 kids very fast and successively, so I knew there would be no issue on my side. We got started pretty casually, but after no results for 6 months, we decided to do the obligatory tests.

“My brother popped out 2 kids, so I knew there would be no issue on my side”

I had pretty much assumed we would either find no issue or hopefully a minor issue on my wife’s side that we could easily overcome. No problem – we’d do what we needed to do and get past it. I can truly say I was not nervous in any sense when I went in for my semen analysis. Then, I got my results (just online, not via doctor), and I looked at it a few times and assumed I wasn’t reading something correctly. I connected with the doctor, and we decided I should do another test – similar results came back, and that’s when I realized I was pretty damn infertile – very low count with terrible motility – my few worthwhile swimmers were mostly drunk, leaving our odds of natural pregnancy extremely slim.

So, how did I feel? How did my wife feel?

I was a little confused and disappointed. I mean, I was a pretty healthy guy.

But, no matter – there is always a way to get past things, right?

I’ve always been solution oriented, and I’d figure out how to get this thing corrected. The more we started speaking to doctors, the more I realized, there wasn’t necessarily a solution. There were things we could try with low odds of helping. I was a little lost, and that’s when the emotions started hitting. I constantly thought about the very distinct possibility that I wouldn’t have kids to play with my brother’s kids. I would break down here and there, talking to my wife.

…that’s when the emotions started hitting. I thought about the very distinct possibility that I wouldn’t have kids to play with my brother’s kids. I would break down here and there…”

We didn’t share with anyone for a few months. Slowly, we then started telling family and close friends. My perspective was, I’d like to see if anyone had been through anything similar, and if there were any tips I could get to make this thing work. We actually ended up finding out that 2 other couples that we knew had issues as well – 1 on the guy’s side and 1 on the girl’s.

My wife was pretty amazing – she realized how tough it was on me, and that she needed to be the strong one. Obviously, it was very tough on her, but she knew we both couldn’t be crying all the time. Ultimately, we talked about worst case scenarios and determined that, even if we didn’t have a family, life with just each other would still be very fulfilling. I can’t say it eliminates all the emotions (it probably never will), but it allows you to forge forward.

“We talked about worst case scenarios and determined that even if we didn’t have a family, life with just each other would still be very fulfilling…”

I did some things the doctor recommended, including surgery for my varicoceles (I had 2). I kept thinking, it will work out – it’s just a test in life, but it’ll work out. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t always work like that. 6 months after having the surgery, I haven’t seen any improvement to my counts and motility.

I should say it can take a toll on your relationship too. My wife has been the rock and dealt with my emotions, but it’s an extremely stressful thing on both of you, and that does lead to having occasional stupid fights about little things when you’re frustrated because of that big thing. And each time, when you think, okay, I can be strong about this, the next hit comes of something else not working, and it’s easy to break down again.

“You think…I can be strong…then the next hit comes, and it is easy to break down again.”

Regardless, I’d like to say and think, you come out stronger, because you see how supportive your partner is. I’ll just be clear that it’s not sunshine and daisies along the way – it’s tiring, psychologically.

It is what it is…

You want to know what could have possibly caused this, and in all likelihood, you’ll just never find out. You won’t know why you can’t do what the majority of other human beings can do. But you find yourself saying — it is what it is.

The good news is my wife has checked out okay. We’re both sub 35, but fast approaching. So, we’ve decided, without seeing any other options to make this happen naturally, we’re moving forward with IVF. It’s stressful and costly. But, it’s also a bit liberating. You feel like you should keep on fighting, and depending on your age, it may be worthwhile. For us, we are approaching 2 years since trying and both approaching 35, so it’s time to move on from natural birth. Maybe, for #2, when my sperm magically turn awesome – they’re probably just late bloomers.

Nothing about this is easy. I mean, straight up, it sucks. But it is what it is.

You end up seeing even more what an amazing spouse you have. And, you just roll with it – go through the options the doctor recommends and see where you stand. I think each personality deals with it differently. I’m still not at a stage where I’m looking to scream off the rooftops, that I have crap sperm, but I do want to try to help others.

…you end up seeing even more, what an amazing spouse you have

I would love to tell people, hey, it doesn’t hurt to get your sperm checked out every year or two, and I have told some of my friends without kids to do so. I want to try to help companies like DCYB, because I appreciate the awareness they’re trying to create. I’m hoping there will be a future, when there will be better and more clear solutions for male infertility. Hopefully, if you’re in the midst of dealing with this, at some point, whether successful with having a child or not, you’ll want to try to help others to maximize their chances of not being in this situation as well.

Keep fighting the good fight, and know that you’re not alone.

Does Soy Impact Male Fertility?

Soy is often thought to be a healthy alternative to other foods. Since soy is a plant-based protein, many assume it’s a healthier option. However, certain chemicals contained in the soy plant can impact male fertility.

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Soy is often thought to be a healthy alternative to other foods. Since soy is a plant-based protein, many assume it’s a healthier option. However, certain chemicals contained in the soy plant can impact male fertility.

What does soy do to my hormones?

Soy plants contain naturally occurring estrogens, called phytoestrogens (“phyton” is Greek for “plant”). In small amounts, these estrogens won’t affect your hormone system very much. However, overexposure to phytoestrogens can trick your body into thinking that these estrogens were actually produced in your body. This is where the problem starts.
A man’s body doesn’t produce pure estrogen. Instead, a small portion of the testosterone that a man produces is converted into estradiol (the male equivalent of testosterone) by the enzyme aromatase. Ideally, this process helps maintain your hormonal balance- it allows for just enough estrogen for your body to keep your brain running and your bones strong, but not enough to interfere with your testosterone levels. When you consume outside estrogen, this delicate balance is thrown off, leading your body to have too much estrogen and too little testosterone.

What Does This Do To My Fertility?

A healthy level of testosterone is crucial to the production of sperm. It helps maintain a balance of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), both of which are need to signal the body to begin producing sperm. Testosterone also helps nurture the baby sperm cells- growing them in to lean, mean baby-making machines. When too much estrogen is consumed and your testosterone plummets, your sperm production slows and your overall sperm quality declines.

How Much Soy Is Too Much?

Studies are still fairly split as how much soy actually leads to this hormonal imbalance. However, one study found a correlation between lowered sperm counts and men that consumed two or more servings of processed soy (think veggie burgers, tofu, and soy milk products) lost about 41 million sperm/per milliliter from their usual sperm count. Using this as a guideline, keeping your processed soy intake down to one serving or less per day will help keep your hormones balanced and your little swimmers happy and healthy.

Understanding A Woman’s Cycle

woman's cycleWhen you try to talk to a guy about a woman’s cycle, most men envision that part from Kubrick’s The Shining- you know- the elevator scene. But getting to know your lady-friend’s cycle is crucial to understanding the process of conception and can get you one step closer to planning your family.

What happens during a woman’s cycle?

We’re going to get the worst part out of the way first: a woman’s cycle starts on the first day of her period. While every cycle is different, her period should last between 3 to 7 days. During this time, her uterus is shedding the lining that was built up over the last cycle. While this lining is being shed, the unfertilized egg from the previous cycle is also shed. Think of it as a spring cleaning for her uterus.

While this is going on, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) signals the egg-containing follicles to begin to grow. As they grow, one follicle tends to become dominant (think of it as the Highlander follicle- there can only be one). This dominant follicle releases an egg, kicking off the ovulation phase (usually around day 15 of your cycle).

The ovulation phase is typically the shortest part of the cycle, lasting 16-32 hours. Once the egg is released it travel down the fallopian tube, lodging itself in the uterine lining. It stays there for roughly 14 days, and, if unfertilized, after day 14, it is flushed with the rest of the uterine lining and the cycle starts over.

When is the best time to have sex if you’re trying to conceive?

A few days before her ovulation, and the day(s) shes ovulating. This is due to sperm’s ability to live 2-3 days in a female reproductive tract, so that once that egg is released, your swimmers are there and ready to fertilize. To boost your chances of conception even more, try having sex about 3-5 times a week, or every other day. For even more tips for conception, let’s talk about sex.

BPA and Male Fertility

BPA is found in receipts, water bottles, and even canned goods. What is BPA? Where else is it found? And what is the relationship of BPA and male fertility?

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Avoiding “harsh chemicals” has been the mantra of health professionals for decades. And chances are, you’ve followed that advice…for the most part. No one wants to be exposed to harmful chemicals, but sometimes the danger isn’t so obvious. This is the case with Bisphenol A (BPA).  This fertility damaging chemical is hidden in every day materials, like receipts, disposable water bottles, or even canned goods. What is BPA? What’s the relationship of BPA and male fertility? And how can you avoid BPA exposure?

What is BPA?

Like we said, BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a chemical that’s used mostly to harden plastics. It’s been used for roughly 40 years- in medical devices, electronics, even Tupperware. This is because as a plastic, BPA is pretty awesome. It’s very heat resistant, as well as electronic resistant, and allows for an incredibly clear plastic that won’t shatter. Awesomeness aside, BPA also has a nasty tendency to break down over time, and since it’s used to harden food and beverage containers, this can mean that the BPA is absorbed by the food or drink that was being contained. So when you eat food or drink that’s been stored in containers comprised of BPA, you run the chance of consuming BPA.

Ingesting food or drink containing BPA isn’t the only way for you to be exposed to unhealthy amounts. BPA can also be absorbed through the skin when you handle items containing high amounts, such as the thermal paper used for printing receipts. Exposure can also occur when you use skin products that were stored in containers that used BPA. These products absorb the BPA in a similar way to the food and drink that we discussed earlier. On top of that, skin care products usually contain “dermal penetration enhancers”, chemicals used to increase product absorption, which subsequently increase BPA absorption.

How does it affect my fertility?

Before you write us off as another site that just assumes all chemicals are bad for you, you might want to check out what BPA could be doing to your fertility. BPA is what’s known as an “endocrine disruptor”. This means that when high amounts of it are consumed or absorbed, BPA mimics estrogen. It binds to estrogen receptors, leading to an increase in estrogen levels and causing an imbalance in your hormones. This leads to impaired testosterone production. Since healthy testosterone levels are crucial to sperm production, a lack of testosterone significantly impacts sperm quality. One study found that men with high traces of BPA in their urine had 23% lower sperm concentration, 13% decline in morphology, a 7.5% decrease is sperm motility, and a 10% increase in sperm DNA damage.

This is not to say that you should panic after drinking a canned soda or being handed a receipt. Occasional exposure to BPA won’t do very much to your body. However, if you have a job that consists of constantly touching receipt paper, or a diet largely comprised of food stored in packages containing BPA, you may want to take steps to reducing your BPA exposure.

How Do I Avoid BPA?

A surprising amount of items contain BPA. Here’s a short list of the most common products that could expose you to BPA:

Receipt paper/Airline tickets: We know, we covered this already. But just to drive it home: exposure to thermal paper is bad. We encourage you to go green: opt out of getting a receipt or choose to receive an e-receipt/ticket. If you need to be exposed to thermal paper for your job, make sure to wear protective gloves when dealing with it, and always wash your hands after exposure.

Canned food/Bottled drinks: A good rule of thumb for figuring out which food containers contain BPA is checking the container for the number 7 recycling code. If it’s a number 7 recyclable, the odds are very high that it contains BPA. Here’s a list of BPA free canned goods.

Plastic cookware: The tools you use to prepare your meals can also leach BPA in your food. Make sure to carefully check for a BPA-free label on the tool’s container, or check the cookware for the number 7 recycling code.

Skin care products: Always check the label. Look for a BPA-free label or the recycle number 7 symbol on the container, or opt for glass containers.

Dental fillings: BPA is a component that’s frequently used to harden fillings. Before getting your dental work, make sure to let your dentist know your concerns about BPA. They’ll work with you to find a BPA-free solution.

While BPA can be difficult to spot at first, once you know what you’re looking for it’s fairly easy to avoid heavy BPA exposure. Avoiding BPA exposure shouldn’t limit any other aspects of your life, but it will greatly improve your fertility and overall health. When all is said and done, removing large amounts of this chemical from your daily life is an easy fix that will have a major pay-off in the long-term.