How hav­ing sex twice in an hour can make men more fer­tile

Daily Mail - - Good Health - By LOIS ROGERS

FROM eating the right foods to adopt­ing cer­tain po­si­tions, there is much con­ven­tional wis­dom about what cou­ples should do to boost their chances of hav­ing a baby. One pop­u­lar idea is that men should ab­stain from sex be­fore try­ing to con­ceive to build up their sperm count and im­prove their po­tency.

How­ever, new re­search from North Mid­dle­sex Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don ap­pears to turn this the­ory on its head, with find­ings sug­gest­ing that hav­ing sex twice within an hour could triple a man’s chance of be­com­ing a fa­ther. Cru­cially, it is the sec­ond at­tempt that is thought to count.

The study in­volved 73 cou­ples who were all un­der­go­ing in­trauter­ine in­sem­i­na­tion (IUI), a fer­til­ity treat­ment where sperm is placed di­rectly into the womb.

When the men, who were classed as sub-fer­tile, pro­duced two sperm sam­ples within the hour and the sec­ond sam­ple was the one used in the treat­ment, it re­sulted in a preg­nancy rate of 20 per cent — more than three times the 6 per cent suc­cess rate ex­pected with this tech­nique.

Fif­teen of the women con­ceived straight­away and a fur­ther ten be­came preg­nant the sec­ond time the cou­ples tried the tac­tic in their fer­tile pe­riod a month later, giv­ing an over­all suc­cess rate of 34 per cent.

Ex­perts say the re­sults over­turn the myth that men should ‘save up’ their sperm to have a baby. The re­search was part of a project com­par­ing the suc­cess rate of IUI with in vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion (IVF), a well-known tech­nique in which women are given drugs to in­duce the pro­duc­tion of mul­ti­ple eggs, with each egg then in­jected with a sin­gle sperm in a lab­o­ra­tory.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Health and Care ex­cel­lence (NICE), only 6 per cent of women will be­come preg­nant from each IUI at­tempt.

But the re­cent find­ings, pre­sented to the euro­pean so­ci­ety of Hu­man Re­pro­duc­tion and em­bry­ol­ogy this sum­mer, showed that if the sec­ond of two con­sec­u­tive sperm sam­ples was used, more than 20 per cent of the women con­ceived straight­away. This is com­pared with 24 per cent us­ing IVF.

It’s thought that this find­ing could also make a dif­fer­ence to those try­ing to con­ceive with­out fer­til­ity treat­ment.

There is a be­lief that men should ab­stain from sex ahead of a woman’s monthly win­dow of peak fer­til­ity, about half­way through her cy­cle, so as not to de­plete their po­tency.

In­deed, NHs guide­lines for men seek­ing in­fer­til­ity treat­ment say they should avoid sex for a min­i­mum of two days be­fore their ap­point­ment to pro­duce a sperm sam­ple.

How­ever, this new re­search in­di­cates that, rather than drain­ing re­pro­duc­tive ca­pac­ity, hav­ing ex­tra sex boosts it, be­cause the fresher sam­ple con­tains more good qual­ity, fer­tile sperm.

Re­searchers also be­lieve many sperm analy­ses that find men to have a low sperm count or poor qual­ity sperm could be in­ac­cu­rate, be­cause they look at the health of older sperm that has been stored in the testes and has al­ready started to de­te­ri­o­rate or die.

Dr Jackson Kirk­man-Brown, a spe­cial­ist in hu­man re­pro­duc­tive sci­ence at the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham, says: ‘There is a great deal of mis­in­for­ma­tion out there.

‘peo­ple still think that if you want to have a baby, you should save up sperm when, in fact, not hav­ing sex is very bad for men be­cause it af­fects sperm qual­ity. The fresher the sperm, the bet­ter its con­di­tion.’

Gu­lam Ba­hadur, an in­fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist at North Mid­dle­sex Hos­pi­tal, who led the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, says: ‘ Though this is a rel­a­tively small study, we be­lieve it is a big step for­ward and could make a ma­jor dif­fer­ence to preg­nancy rates.

‘It would be rea­son­able to as­sume the same ef­fect would ap­ply to men try­ing to con­ceive nat­u­rally.’

IUI is less in­va­sive than stan­dard IVF and costs £600 per at­tempt, com­pared with £6,000 for IVF, but it is not gen­er­ally avail­able on the NHs. so the new study has been wel­comed by other spe­cial­ists try­ing to pro­mote greater ac­cess to this low-tech treat­ment.

Bryan Woodward, chair­man of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Biomed­i­cal An­drol­o­gists, has pub­lished re­search show­ing IUI is bet­ter value than IVF and is lead­ing an at­tempt to chal­lenge Nice guide­lines say­ing IUI does not work and should not be funded on the NHs. He says Dr Ba­hadur’s work is ‘very promis­ing’.

Mean­while, cy­cling could re­duce the qual­ity and quan­tity of sperm. It’s thought that cy­tokines, sub­stances in the blood that trans­fer mes­sages be­tween cells, which are re­leased as part of the in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse, are also re­leased dur­ing high-in­ten­sity cy­cling when the body is ‘stressed’.

The ex­ces­sive level of cy­tokines is thought to dam­age sperm.

In a re­cent study, 24 men were en­rolled on a cy­cling pro­gramme for four months and in­structed to cy­cle on an ex­er­cise bike daily, with re­sis­tance in­creased week on week to make it more dif­fi­cult.

The cy­clists were made to keep go­ing un­til they had reached their max­i­mum abil­ity ( ac­cord­ing to a breath test).

Re­sults in the Clin­i­cal Jour­nal of sports Medicine found there was a re­duc­tion in the num­ber and motil­ity of sperm. There were also high lev­els of cy­tokines, which re­mained at this level even af­ter 30 days of re­cov­ery with­out cy­cling.

Cer­tain cy­tokines are thought to be in­volved in the for­ma­tion of sperm and, in ex­ces­sive lev­els, cause dam­age to their mem­branes, which changes their shape and func­tion.

The re­searchers also say rig­or­ous ex­er­cise is usu­ally done in tight clothes and sit­ting on a sad­dle for a long time can heat up the tes­ti­cles — this can fur­ther dam­age sperm and pre­vent their for­ma­tion.

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