There are always new articles popping up about what a woman can do to enhance her fertility potential, but what’s often left out of this conversation, though, is what the male partner should be doing to prepare for conception.
While the man may not be carrying the baby, a male factor is the cause of infertility in about 50 percent of couples. Male infertility may arise if his sperm count is low or the sperm has mobility issues.
The formation of mature sperm takes about two months, and this means a male’s reproductive health is impacted by his diet, lifestyle, general health, and the environment if lifestyle changes happened two to three months prior.
A man’s reproductive health is as important as the woman’s, and also contributes towards optimizing the chances of a healthy baby, and doing your part to ensure your sperm is as healthy as possible is an important contribution to you and your partner’s fertility journey.
Sperm count or total sperm count is one of the several qualities that are assessed during routine semen analysis. It refers to the average total number of sperm present in one sample of semen and is considered an important factor for fertility.
Based on the most current World Health Organization guiding principle, a healthy sperm count is 15 million per milliliter (ml) or at least 39 million per sample. A sperm count lower than 10 million per ml is considered odd and commonly associated with male infertility.
Anything that impacts the hormones that control the production of sperm or acts as an anti-oxidant may aid the healthy development of sperm, and factors that influence testosterone levels are thought to have the most significant impact on sperm number and quality.
A 2017 analysis found that worldwide sperm counts declined significantly from 1973 to 2011.
Sex, fertility, and pregnancy are tricky processes, dependent on many factors. Taking measures for healthy sperm is just one small but positive step toward growing a healthy, normal family.
Elements Of Healthy Sperm:
Quantity (volume): A healthy sperm count is about 15 million or more for every milliliter (mL) of semen, and the more you have, the more likely one of them will make it through to the female reproductive system and fertilize an egg.
Movement (motility): Not every sperm moves effectively or even at all, and only about 40 percent or more of them need to be moving for you to be fertile.
Shape (morphology): Healthy sperm has rounded heads and long, strong tails (streamlined). Such sperm is more likely to make it to an egg.
Tips To Ensure Your Sperm Are In Optimum Condition:
Make Physical Fitness And Healthy Eating A Priority
Most people on a “Western” diet (processed meats, grains, dairy, sweets, snacks, and pizza) are especially affected when it comes to sperm motility in comparison to those who eat a diet higher in chicken, fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Go light on the processed stuff and eat more lean meats and whole foods.
Vitamin B-12: found in meat, fish, and dairy, it has all sorts of positive effects throughout your body. Vitamin B-12 protects your sperm from inflammation and oxidative stress caused by harmful free radicals in your body.
Vitamin C: eating more oranges, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, and spinach can all contribute to more vitamin C in your body, leading to a higher sperm count. In some cases, it may double your sperm count after a couple months.
Nuts: these have long been associated with benefitting sexual health. A 2018 study found that a diet high in almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts over a 14-week period increased sperm count by up to 16%.
Lycopene: Foods like tomatoes and watermelons get their rich red color from lycopene. It can reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage DNA and hurt sperm, in your body. Taking 4 to 8 milligrams (mg) of lycopene a day was found to improve sperm count and motility.
exercise can increase sperm quantity, movement, and shape. A 2005 study found that the combination of low activity and high body mass index (BMI) contributed directly to poor semen quality, and being overweight or obese can affect testosterone levels, too. This can lower your sex drive, but exercise and weight loss can boost your sperm count and quality in weeks.
But remember intense physical activity, especially cycling, and mountain climbing, are linked to decreased semen quality. This may be due to injury from bicycle seats or scrotum movement or altitude and things like that.
Smoking and Alcohol
Smoking has been found to reduce sperm count and result in poor quality. Quitting the habit is an integral part of preconception care for both partners.
Studies have also shown that as little as one beer a day can affect sperm, increasing the risk of miscarriage and reducing the chance of a live birth. It is also important that you restrict your alcohol intake if you and your partner are trying to conceive.
Caffeine affects the sperm ability to swim (motility) and quality. You should limit your daily consumption to one or two cups of coffee a day.
There is a clear relationship between weight and fertility for men, as men who are significantly overweight may have decreased sperm count and quality. Learn to keep your weight within the recommended body mass index (BMI) range.
Keep and Stay Cool
Overheating can affect sperm quality, and that is the reason why the testes are outside the body to keep them cooler. Avoid hot spas, saunas, using your computer on your lap and tight jeans or underwear.
Zinc deficiency can reduce testosterone levels and semen production, but taking a supplement can improve DNA quality. You can learn to take a supplement with antioxidants and zinc.
It is advisable not to use any form of recreational drugs when trying to conceive. Studies have found that Marijuana and anabolic steroids can affect sperm count and quality.
Amusingly, infrequent ejaculation results in sperm becoming lethargic and tending to have more chance of DNA damage. Men need to ejaculate regularly to keep the sperm healthy and motile, and for best results, try to ejaculate every two days, especially when your partner is ovulating.
Stress and Toxins
Studies have shown that semen quality declines during times of stress, and we are confronted with myriad environmental toxins on a daily basis too. Engage in stress-lowering activities such as reading, walking, etc, and if you are exposed to paint, diesel fumes or pesticides, either avoid them or use protective safety equipment.
Pollution can also cause DNA damage to sperm.
Male Fertility and Sperm Count Can Improve With Lifestyle Changes, and while there are many unknown factors that can cause male infertility, the lifestyle tips listed above have been shown to make a remarkable difference in men.
It is beneficial for any man who is trying to conceive with his partner to keep a healthy lifestyle, minimize alcohol intake, quit smoking, eat healthily and exercise.