Tips to improve the quality of your sperm
Men’s lifestyle choices matter too
Like women, a man’s lifestyle can directly affect his fertility. The good news is, there are many simple changes you can make to positively impact your overall health and that of your sperm:
Improve Your Diet
Men should eat a healthy diet rich in fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, and whole grains; olive oil should replace animal fats; nutrients and vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin E that are renowned for their antioxidant qualities and believed to increase sperm health.
Maintain a healthy BMI
Having a low or high Body Mass Index (BMI) can affect sperm concentration and count. Eating healthy and maintaining a healthy BMI is important. If you’re overweight, try to reduce the weight as obesity may be linked with infertility.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
That’s not to say that a beer or a glass of wine here and there is a problem, but regular heavy nights out are not going to serve your purposes well. Long-term effects of chronic alcohol use include erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, and subnormal sperm production. Remember to have everything in moderation.
Smoking doesn’t only affect a woman’s fertility
Various studies have examined the effects of cigarette smoking on fertility, and the evidence suggests that smoking worsens sperm production, motility and morphology (shape). These studies have also shown that nicotine can cause testicular atrophy (a condition where the testes diminish in size and can result in loss of function). If you’re a smoker making every effort to quit is a good idea for your health and your fertility!
Not too hot, not too cold
The testicles produce the best quality sperm when they are a few degrees below normal body temperature. Working in hot temperatures, or simply relaxing, such as in a sauna frequently, can increase testicular temperature - resulting in abnormal sperm count and quality. It’s best to avoid taking long hot baths on a regular basis!
We all know illicit drugs are not good for your overall health and wellbeing – but there are several illicit drugs that are detrimental to male fertility. Marijuana can decrease sperm density and motility, and increase the number of abnormal sperm. Cocaine can impair erectile function by suppressing the hormone that produces testosterone. High doses of amphetamines (such as xx) can lead to a diminished libido. That’s not even taking into account the other risks associated with these drugs, if you’re a recreational user, stop!
Overall, maintaining your health by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and avoiding smoking and overdoing it on the alcohol will serve your fertility well.
Your Sperm Count: Fact vs Fiction
We sort the fact from the fiction when it comes to what can affect a man's sperm count:
- Men wearing lycra and tight jeans are no more likely to have sperm production issues
- Too many saunas, working in high temperature environments (e.g. steel smelts), or sitting in cramped conditions for hours on end (e.g. truck drivers) can affect your sperm count
- Diet, vitamins and supplements actually have very little impact on your sperm count but an acute viral illness, trauma, or a childhood operation for undescended testes or hernias of the groin can
- Being hit in the groin during sports, while painful, can only really have an impact on your fertility if it’s extremely severe
- Using steroids to build muscle for strength or sheer sex appeal may have adverse affect on quality of your sperm
5 Fast Facts About Sperm
- Sperm survives in the female body for up to 72 hours
- Life cycle of a sperm is 90 days so you improve the quality of your sperm through better diet and improving your lifestyle over a couple of months
- Testicles function best at 35 degrees which is why they sit just outside the human body
- A typical man produces 50 million sperm per ejaculation but with the help of Advanced Reproductive Technologies such as ICSI you need only one to fertilise the egg
- The journey the sperm takes to the egg, once it’s arrived in the womb, is the equivalent of a man swimming 6kms
What’s involved in a Semen Analysis Test?
Semen analysis is the first step and the most important male fertility test. It’s relatively cheap and simple and can tell us a lot about your fertility.
- Test request form: If you are a current patient with us, your fertility specialist will provide a request form – or you can ask your GP to refer you for a semen analysis test.
- Produce a semen sample: You will be required to produce a semen sample by masturbation, after at least three days abstinence from sexual activity. You should collect the entire ejaculated amount in a clean, dry container (provided by your Specialist or GP) and bring it to us within one hour. If you prefer, you can produce the sample in a private room at one of our clinics.
- Semen analysis in a laboratory: Our Andrology scientists then assess the semen. They analyse and measure the number of sperm, their ability to move, their size and shape, and the volume and consistency of the ejaculated sample.
A normal sperm count is at least 15 million sperm per ml, with at least half showing good forward motility. If they find abnormalities, they usually do more tests to identify the nature and degree of any problems.
- Explanation of your results: Your Fertility Specialist or GP will then explain your test results to you. The good news is that sperm have a lifecycle of 72 days, so if your results indicate that there may be problems with your sperm, you may be able to improve this with diet and lifestyle changes. There are also treatments available that can allow you to still conceive if have a low sperm count, poor sperm movement, or high numbers of abnormally shaped sperm.