There are few things as frustrating as deciding you are ready to have a baby and then not conceiving — especially when your doctors can’t pinpoint the reason why. But now researchers have discovered a genetic defect present in up to one quarter of the world’s men that may be the cause of some male infertility.
The study, which was conducted at the University of California at Davis, by scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, and China, found that a significant portion of men have sperm that is missing a protective protein.1 This protein, DEFB126, is actually a coating around the sperm that helps it make its way through the female reproductive system intact to reach the egg. When it is not present, the sperm have a much tougher time getting through the cervical mucus and past the immune system cells ready to attack foreign bodies.
Frequently, when a man is found to be infertile, physicians aren’t sure why. Sometimes, it is a result of low sperm count or poor sperm quality, but the rest of the time, there is often no obvious explanation. Since the sperm that are without DEFB126 appear completely normal in their motility and numbers when examined by microscope, this finding could account for a large portion of male infertility.
The researchers determined that approximately half of all men around the world have one defective copy of this gene affecting DEFB126 and one quarter of all men have two copies, making them deficient in the protein. Those men were found to have a significantly lower rate of being able to impregnate their significant other when attempting conception.
In general, human sperm tends to be among the least viable among all mammals. Aside from swimming problems and poor general quality, it also has an unusually high rate of defective cells. But none of this information should be particularly shocking considering the toxins we expose our bodies to on a daily basis. From the food we eat to the chemicals virtually surrounding us, it is practically impossible to avoid coming into contact with harmful contaminants. And our reproductive organs are a particularly sensitive part of the body when it comes to absorbing these toxins.
Now you can’t change your genes if you are missing the DEFB126 protein, but there are other ways to maximize your reproductive health and optimize your fertility to give yourself the very best shot at achieving conception. Sperm quality and quantity are both highly susceptible to dietary and environmental changes, and the optimum time to remove some of those issues by detoxing and supplementation is before you begin to attempt a pregnancy.
Studies have shown that even moderate exposure to lead and cadmium can significantly reduce sperm quality and reproductive capacity. Also, chemicals such as dibromochloropropane (DBCP), chlordecone, carbaryl, and ethylene dibromide negatively impact male fertility — as do smoking and alcohol consumption.
Before attempting to get your partner pregnant, you should clean out as much toxic waste from the body as possible. Not just heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, but all waste, including drug residues, PCBs, xenoestrogens, etc. If possible, you should run through the whole gamut of detoxes such as colon cleanse, heavy metal detox, kidney cleanse, liver/gallbladder flush, and a blood cleanse.
And the importance of a healthy diet cannot be overstated. To function properly, the reproductive system requires proper vitamin and mineral support. Nutritional deficiencies can impair hormone function, inhibit sperm production, and contribute to the production of abnormal sperm. Think about this for a moment. You can’t make the same sperm cells out of pepperoni pizza, beer, and Ding Dongs that you can out of nutritionally whole food. The complete set of building blocks just isn’t there. Eating well and taking natural nutritional supplements with zinc, vitamin E, arginine, vitamin B-12, and selenium will boost sperm production, motility, and the sperms’ ability to impregnate.
By making these dietary improvements and detoxing much of the harmful waste from your body, you will be greatly increasing your chances of getting your partner pregnant. Even if the issue that has been causing your infertility is a missing protective protein, cleaning out and strengthening your reproductive system will allow you to manufacture the healthiest, most virile sperm your body can produce…which may be just enough to overcome any other deficiencies.
1 Tollner, Theodore L.; Venners, Scott A.; Hollox, Edward J.; et al. “A Common Mutation in the Defensin DEFB126 Causes Impaired Sperm Function and Subfertility.” Science Translational Medicine. 20 July 2011. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 29 September 2011. <http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/3/92/92ra65.abstract>.