I write this blog with the hope that my personal story, matched with scientific knowledge, will help you to better understand who you are sexually. Learning about the places in life where Sex, Science and Nature come together can empower you to find fulfillment in the unique sexual person you are, as well as acceptance of yourself.
Science has answers to some of the most delicate and often overwhelming questions we ask ourselves and one another about sex, but sometimes it can be very difficult to access good knowledge about what is normal or how to approach sexual challenges.
I am a Reproductive Physiologist and the inventor of Pre-Seed, the world’s first “fertility” lubricant. My posts share reviews and commentary on science that illuminates or impacts human sexuality to make the science behind our functioning as natural sexual beings accessible.
Some of you may know me as “Dr. E” from my work helping infertile couples. You may have seen me in the National Geographic special “Sizing Up Sperm” or heard me on National Public Radio talking about my research (with the UPS man delivering semen for breeding my pet 900 lb pig). As a scientist in the field of Andrology (Male Fertility), I’ve spent 30 years studying how to protect sperm to optimize male fertility, among other things. Along the way, my National Institute of Health (NIH) funded research focused on how the female’s Fallopian Tube cells select and nurture the best sperm so they can fertilize the egg.
I’ve learned that human conception is not the “battle” between sexes it is often portrayed as — but rather it is an intricately timed collaboration between the male and female.
The ovaries and Fallopian Tubes work together to provide everything sperm need in order to preserve their DNA (genetic material) and their motility (swimming capacity) so they can create a healthy baby.
During this research, I learned that the leading vaginal lubricants on the market were killing sperm — even the ones labeled “non-spermicidal.” My research revealed that many trying-to-conceive (TTC) couples were using lubricants to try to make “having-to-have sex while conceiving a baby” (“Baby-dancing” in the TTC vernacular) more comfortable, without knowing that these products damage sperm. As my work increasingly moved towards helping infertile couples, I also faced significant challenges conceiving my second son. My life and work came together as I experienced personally how the stress of TTC can adversely impact a couple’s love life.
Following my completely serendipitous discovery of a natural plant sugar (arabinogalactan) that provides antioxidant support for sperm, I teamed with a committed group of colleagues to invent Pre-Seed, the world’s first “fertility” lubricant. It is uniquely and specifically designed to support sperm and provide an optimal environment for their journey to the egg. Since Pre-Seed was launched in 2003, we have sold millions of doses around the world, providing “seriously fun baby-making” for TTC couples, and learning a great deal about the sex and nature of human sexuality.
While doing all this science I am also just like “every woman” who makes her way through life, sex, and intimacy. Each of us feels empowered at times and ridiculous at others — as we move into and out of confident sexual selves. In my case, I can talk about reproduction on national TV but am deeply embarrassed to buy “personal items” at the store (I always try to bury them under other things in my cart, even picking up items I don’t need to cover them up). Just like most of you, I have had to work to maintain a fulfilling intimate life. While doing my scientific work in the science of sex and reproduction, I have also been a mother, wife, and sexual partner navigating prolonged and significant health issues and the emotional stress of attempted hostile company takeovers, as well as divorce, remarriage and blended families. My science is, thus, my life.
From my work as a Reproductive Physiologist I know most of us want a more fulfilling, enthralling sex life, but we often don’t know how to find it.
I have encountered many people, who have experienced deep emotional pain around sex in their daily lives. Whether concerned with fertility, or just with keeping everyday love alive, knowing our sexual self is an important key to human happiness. We each have this self, but finding correct information about it and connecting with it confidently is not always easy.
Science can help us nurture and enjoy this self, especially when we consciously integrate an understanding of scientific findings with an acceptance of our human nature.
My aim is to help you discover science that makes sense of our human sexuality and understand yourself as a natural, sexual person.
When a man and woman are on their journey of trying for a baby, they become students of all things related to fertility and conception. One important component of that education is understanding sperm count and sperm motility. When a man has a semen analysis to determine the health of his sperm, you might hear many terms, such as sperm count, sperm morphology (the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape), sperm motility and even ejaculate white blood cell count.
Why should you care about the levels for these measurements? What do some of these numbers mean? And which is more important, sperm count or sperm motility, or both?
The simplest measurable part of a man’s reproductive health is sperm count, or the number of sperm in his ejaculate, most often expressed as the number of sperm found per milliliter (ml) of semen with each ejaculation. A sperm count anywhere in the range from 15 million to 150 million per m is considered normal, as long as the total ejaculate sperm count is over 22 million sperm. Because count is a function of sperm numbers per volume of semen fluid, some men will have lower counts per ml, but a normal TOTAL count in the ejaculate (because they have high semen volume). Sperm count should always be viewed as both the count per ml, and the total count for the ejaculate.
Many factors – from a simple virus to environmental factors (e.g. very hot weather) to a hormone imbalance from chemical exposure or even infrequent sex – can cause a low sperm count. Sperm count can be increased through increasing frequency of ejaculation and intercourse, taking antioxidant vitamins, weight loss, and other lifestyle changes. But don’t place all your bets on dad’s sperm count. The number of sperm produced is not the only crucial factor in a man being able to father children.
A man might have a normal or high sperm count, but if his sperm motility (i.e. ability to swim) is low it may hinder your ability to conceive. Motility is, simply put, the way sperm move. Sperm with healthy motility move progressively forward, not sluggishly and not traveling in circles.
Specialists have four motility grades they give to sperm, from an A for the straightest, fastest swimmers, to a D for sperm that fail to move at all. When a sample shows that fewer than 32% of sperm don’t swim forward progressively, the motility of that sample is considered low.
While low motility can be caused by genetic or physical issues that cannot be remedied, numerous studies have shown with strong evidence that sperm motility can be improved by changes in a man’s diet and lifestyle changes (weight loss, smoking cessation, less bike riding, antioxidant vitamins, not using car seat heaters and many others). One of the best things a man can do to improve sperm motility is to have frequent intercourse, as this leads to increased testosterone production and more rapid sperm production.
Also, it is important to not add additional roadblocks for sperm. Pre-Seed Fertility-Friendlypersonal lubricant is isotonic and pH balanced to mimic a woman’s fertile fluids so sperm can swim freely. Clinical studies show that Pre-Seed is safe for use when trying to conceive, while leading lubricants like KY Jelly, Astroglide, baby oil, or petroleum jelly can slow down or even damage sperm. Even saliva can be harmful to sperm. Many fertility clinics use Pre-Seed because they know they are using a lubricant that will protect sperm.
It is important for a couple to understand that neither a man’s sperm count or his sperm motility can be analyzed in isolation. The values for “normal” sperm counts and motility were developed by the World Health Organization after studying semen from 4,000 fertile men. Although a high count or a high level of motility can offset a lower corresponding sperm measurement, anytime either count or motility are below guidelines, a man should repeat his semen analysis. You want to make sure that the test was correct before assuming a sperm problem. To help produce the best sample possible, Pre-Seed has been shown in clinical studies to be safe to use as lubrication during sperm collection.
Your doctor will help you analyze the results of your sperm analysis. But be sure to educate yourself as well on becoming healthier to develop a strategy for increasing sperm count or improving motility if the numbers are low.
It is vital to have a firm understanding of sperm count and motility as you navigate the often-confusing TTC waters. But it is also important to understand this: even a man with a low sperm count and low motility can help conceive a baby. Even if his odds are reduced, it only takes one strong swimmer to unite with an egg. And with Pre-Seed sperm-friendly lubricant, you will not limit or harm sperm. Also, more stimulating and enjoyable intercourse for the man allows him to produce the best quality sperm with regards to count and motility he can make. Pre-Seed helps baby-making feel fabulous which optimizes sperm production.
What have you learned about sperm count and sperm motility as you have tried for a baby? Share your story.
Read more about fertility by Dr. Ellington and others at the Pre-Seed TTC Blog.
My wife, Molly, and I had the kind of life others could only envy. We had a beautiful, and brilliant,14-year-old daughter, a gorgeous home, and a red-hot sex life. Our marriage of 16 years seemed better than ever. And then one ordinary day, out of the blue, Molly told me that she had once had sex with a woman during a threesome. My eyes bugged out of my head to the sound of a Klaxon horn, like in an old Droopy cartoon.
Molly thought she was bisexual and wanted my permission to try sleeping with other women, and being a big dumb man, I thought it would be my golden ticket to every man’s fantasy: A threesome. Six years later, I got that and much more than I bargained for. Molly encouraged me to see other women, and we entered into an open, mixed-orientation marriage.
After some disastrous attempts at sex parties and hotel hookups, I found myself in a downward spiral of depression and despair. And when our daughter discovered evidence of Molly’s extracurricular activities, our family began to disintegrate before my eyes.
There are an estimated two to three million straight spouses in past or present marriages with a bisexual, lesbian or gay partner. How to Lose Your Wife to Another Woman is a memoir of my experiences, that offers an intimate look at a straight spouse living in a gay spouse’s closet; the secret world of sex parties, swinging and infidelity; and a man brought face to face with the limits of love, and the bitter pain of betrayal.
James Oliver Chapman is the author of How to Lose Your Wife to Another Woman: A Memoir of a Mixed Orientation Marriage. Visit him at howtoloseyourwifetoanotherwoman.com, Facebook and Twitter.
Why should you care about the levels for sperm count and sperm motility? Find out what these numbers mean and the importance of each measurement.
There are an estimated 2 to 3 million spouses who have lived or who are living in a mixed orientation marriage. James Chapman shares a short summary of his mixed-orientation marriage journey and book with you in this post.
These awesome Pre-Seed onesies made me think of my favorite TTC success stories. Of course, my all time fav is right next to me in this picture. But here's another story that has always stood out for me: