INFERTILITY IN both men and women is a growing problem. According to researchers at the British Medical Research Council, sperm counts all around the world have decreased by 50 per cent in the last 50 years.
In addition, disorders of the male reproductive organs, including cancer of the testicles, undescended testicles, small and abnormal penises, have more than doubled. Testicular cancer has become the most common malignancy in young males.
Other problems with other reproductive organs: the prostate gland in men and the uterus in women (75 per cent of Jamaican women have fibroids) have skyrocketed. All these reproductive organs have one thing in common: they are extremely sensitive to hormonal disturbance.
The sad reality is that we now live in an environment polluted with unhealthy chemicals, particularly substances that behave like the female hormone oestrogen. Researchers believe that many of the above disorders are caused by exposure of the unborn foetus to those oestrogenic environmental chemicals. Other studies done on pregnant women who were exposed to oestrogen drugs revealed a similar occurrence of such abnormalities and decrease in sperm levels in their male offspring. This may even be a factor in the increasing levels of homosexuality in young men as well as precocious puberty, early sexual development, and teenage pregnancy in our girls.
Today, women are exposed to these external oestrogen from a wide array of sources: drugs, food, water, air, even some skin and hair-care products. They consequently pass them on to their developing sons and daughters, with the result being an increase in male infertility and genital abnormality in boys and sexual and gynaecological disorders in girls. Many non-oestrogenic chemicals also contribute to the problem, including some pesticides, plasticisers, food colourings, solvents, metals, dioxins, and alcohol. Environmental contamination has resulted in human exposure to oestrogenic chemicals such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane that are resistant to biodegradation and persist in the food chain, and accumulate in human and animal tissues for a very long time.
Changes in diet and lifestyle also play a role. Increases in body fat are known to increase the body's own production of oestrogen in both men and women. As men age, their fat cells manufacture more and more female hormones by converting their male hormone testosterone into the female hormone oestrogen. Research indicates that the average 50-year-old man has higher levels of female hormones that the average 50-year-old woman. The fatter the man, the greater this hormonal reversal. These hormonal shifts carry far-reaching physical, psychological and social consequences.
Correcting the imbalance
As a part of your general medical check-up, ask your health-care provider to do a detailed hormonal profile. This will provide useful information on your various hormone levels, including your sex hormones. Unfortunately, it will not indicate the levels of other abnormal hormone-like chemicals in your body.
The appropriate diet with a heavy emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables. Minimise your consumption of processed, chemical-laced foods. Try to 'eat organic' as much as possible. Specific foods are known to assist in hormonal regulation. These include soy, green tea, Omega 3-fatty acids, high-fibre foods and the crustiferous vegetables. I employ a very effective nutritional supplement programme called Cellular Nutrition to assist with hormonal balance. Specific herbs like ginseng, tang kuei, and evening primrose oil may also help the body to naturally regulate its hormonal balance.
Daily exercise, stress management and regular sun exposure also assist with hormonal balance.
It is important to assist the body to prevent and remove toxic chemicals from accumulating in the body. A high-fibre diet and a high consumption of clean water is valuable. Colon cleansing, sauna baths, sweating, and other detox techniques done regularly are also very useful.
Specific vitamins and herbs like the antioxidants, aloe vera, milk thistle and probiotics can be used.
More aggressive detox strategies, including intravenous chelation therapy, may also be employed.
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormonal balance can be restored with the appropriate and safe use of hormone replacement therapy, but specific guidelines must be followed.
First, the appropriate tests of hormone status must be done by your doctor. Then the necessary hormone can be replaced using bio-identical hormones. That means giving the body the exact substance that it makes, not a synthetic, unnatural chemical. Testosterone, oestrogen. progesterone, thyroid hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone and cortisol, are all available in bio-identical forms. Your doctor would decide on the appropriate dosage and method of administration. Finally, you must be followed up and your hormone levels monitored to achieve optimal results.
You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at email@example.com or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women' is available locally and on the Internet.