Understand the Numbers to Optimize Getting Pregnant Naturally or with IVF
I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that getting pregnant takes two!
You’ve probably already thought about your own fertility concerns and are seeking the knowledge and tools to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
But what about your partner?
The results of his fertility labs are an equal part of the equation and must be obtained and examined closely.
Today we’re going to break down what labs we recommend for your partner and go through what they mean. As you go through this article, you may want to have your partner’s labs on hand, so you can see where he is currently sitting.
As you read, remember, we look at these common hormones through the context of fertility, which sometimes varies from what is within the “normal range.” We’ll distinguish what is the “normal” range and what is actually “optimal” for pregnancy.
This is an important distinction that differentiates our processes from your traditional medical doctor.
We want you and your partner to understand every one of these levels from a fertility viewpoint so you can avoid unnecessary treatment, save thousands of dollars, and have the tools needed to get your partner ready for pregnancy!
What labs does he need to look at?
While many of the labs that are important for female fertility are also important for men, we do like to focus on the metabolic health of the male as well as the health of the sperm (which go hand in hand!).
In addition to the basic blood work for men, we recommend that males get a Strict-Kruger semen analysis.
This analysis tells us about the count, motility, morphology, and progression of the sperm, as well as the agglutination, white blood cells, and viscosity. Understanding what these numbers mean will allow your partner to better know what he can do on a daily basis to optimize the health of his sperm and create the strongest swimmers out there!
Other important labs to note are:
- Thyroid: TSH (full panel is not always necessary in a male)
- Other essential labs for men include: CBC, CMP, GGT, HbA1C, Insulin, Homocysteine, hsCRP, Free and Total Testosterone, SHBG, Ferritin, Lipid Panel, 25-OH Vitamin D
The graphic shown here below shows the “normal” as well as “optimal” numbers for each. We’ll go into them in more detail below.
A Frightening Phenomenon
In our general society now, we consider a normal sperm count range to be over 20 million. On the chart, you see that’s what 20 times 10 to the sixth is. However, from a strict fertility perspective, the optimal range is a count greater than 50 million.
What’s frightening about these numbers? Well, 75 to 100 years ago, what was considered normal for male sperm count was over 100 million. This really shows there’s been a huge decline in male sperm count over the past decade.
This steady change in sperm count over the years is continuing to decline, and it’s absolutely frightening to think about what could happen to future generations of humankind if our men’s sperm count continues to decline at this alarming rate. We try to do everything we can to control this.
Other Important Factors
When it comes to examining sperm for fertility, we also want to look at the motility, morphology, and progression, as well as other things such as agglutination, white blood cells, and viscosity.
Optimal Level for Fertility: over 60%
Motility refers to how well the sperm moves. You’ve probably heard men refer to how good their “swimmers” are… this is where that term comes from!
What is considered “normal” is really anything over 50% however, optimal motility for male fertility is anything over 60%.
Motility alone won’t make it or break it, though. Other factors are just as important to consider.
Optimal Level for Fertility: 10 to 14%
Morphology is an even bigger factor when it comes to sperm, even more than motility.
Even though a “normal” morphology rate is 4 to 14%, this isn’t what’s optimal for conceiving naturally. We’ve seen so many men come into our clinic having been told that their 4% rate is fine, and while it may be okay for IVF, it’s not always okay for natural fertility.
To improve your chances of conceiving naturally, you want to see this level between 10 and 14%.
In our work, we like to support you and your partner in getting to a place where you can conceive naturally.
While IVF is a great tool if you’ve run out of options, it’s much easier and cost effective to support your body and give it what it needs to be able to conceive naturally.
IVF clinics will quote you their “success rate”, but what they DON’T tell you is that rate is over a course of SIX rounds! What woman or partnership wants to go through six (or even 1) rounds of IVF if they don’t have to?
That’s where our functional approach to fertility comes in!
If you’d like to learn more about how we can support you and your partner to conceive naturally, click HERE to register for our on-demand masterclass to discover our proprietary 4R Fertility FormulaTM. Our formula has over an 80% success rate in those that we have found to be a good fit and are ready to commit to our process.
Optimal Level for Fertility: Higher than 2
The final factor when it comes to male fertility of sperm is the progression, which is simply another measurement of how the sperm progresses forward.
It’s important that the sperm moves forward and not backward because if your partner’s sperm are doing the backstroke that’s not ideal for getting pregnant.
Other things that need to be assessed when it comes to sperm have to do with agglutination, white blood cells, and viscosity.
We look at these points because they can be indicators of underlying metabolic problems, which is why men also need to have their labs checked along with their female partners.
Other Important Labs
An important thing to note here is that unless your partner has hyper or hypothyroidism symptoms, simply testing the TSH is adequate in men, and the full panel is not required.
HbA1C: Hemoglobin A1C and DHEA-s
Same as in women, HbA1C is a marker for blood sugar and gives insight into someone’s risk for insulin resistance, prediabetes, and diabetes. This can impact the health and quality of the sperm, and thus affects the chances of their partner getting pregnant.
Many men don’t realize that they are half of the infertility equation! The health of a man’s body, as well as his sperm, greatly influences the chances of a successful pregnancy.
If you remember from the previous discussion about female labs HERE, homocysteine is also very important in men. This level gives you an idea about your level of inflammation and B vitamin status and is another important factor in fertility.
Ideally, this level in men should be less than 7. Since these levels are very important for the health of your DNA and sperm DNA, this is a number that should be addressed for optimal fertility.
Free and Total Testosterone and SHBG
Again, these sex hormones are absolutely essential for male fertility.
Testosterone affects sex drive, which is obviously essential to getting pregnant. We like to see this in the range of 500-700 in men.
Your partner’s SHBG level can be a problem if it is too low or too high, indicating how much free hormone is active for use.
The ferritin level can be an indicator of iron stores, and can also be an inflammatory marker, both of which impact fertility.
25-OH Vitamin D
Just like in women, vitamin D plays a major role in many important functions in the body.
Vitamin D blood levels of 30 or higher have been associated with greater pregnancy rates for natural pregnancy and IVF. However, we really like to see it between 50 and 80.
Lipid Panel and AST/ALT/GGT
Your partner’s lipid panel gives you insight into their cholesterol levels, such as LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. These are the building blocks for their sex hormones, but also, when too high, they can negatively impact sperm health and fertility.
AST/ALT/GGT levels give insight into the liver’s ability to process hormones, medications, and toxins. As you can see, having normal levels is extremely important for your partner’s health and his sperm.
CBC with differential
The CBC is looked at on most basic blood work and is probably something your partner has done before. It gives you an idea of the white blood cell count, hemoglobin, and platelets. This test is pretty standard and is looked at in relation to all of the other labs to give you more insight into your overall health and where you may need support for your fertility. It can also even give insight into nutrient deficiencies and toxic load.
Toxins have a huge impact on infertility in both males and females. We work with our clients to lessen their toxin load as well as supplement their bodies to be able to detox optimally.
How can I use this information to increase our chances of pregnancy?
Our hope and desire is that this information has supported you in understanding what labs are important to know and why it’s so important that you start with your labs at the beginning of your fertility journey.
We know men aren’t always the greatest at going to the doctor for check-ups and don’t always stay up to date with getting their labs done, so a gentle nudge from you may be required.
Remember, you can’t fix what you don’t understand!
We don’t care how young you or your partner are. Through our work in traditional and functional medicine, we know that these simple lab tests will reveal most underlying causes of infertility.
Understanding the results of your lab tests is just the beginning of getting to know your body and what you can do to overcome some of the common blocks to fertility. This knowledge will empower you and your partner to be the CEO of your own health and fertility. This, plus following the simple, stepwise approach in our 4R Fertility FormulaTM, will set you up for success and help get you pregnant naturally!
We’re here to help you navigate these tests and other questions you may have. It’s part of how we educate and support our clients, and we have space for you in our unique program. Click HERE to register for our on-demand masterclass to discover our proprietary 4R Fertility FormulaTM and how you can work more closely with us to optimize getting pregnant naturally or with IVF.