Do you want to be the father of a lovely child? Are you trying to make your wife pregnant for months? Getting frustrated day by day as nothing works? Then, you are in the right place. We are going to discuss a little about the fertility issue of men.
Who doesn’t want to hear the call “dad” from a little child? But, unfortunately, every couple cannot hear that sweet voice. Many people suffer from infertility and the number is increasing. And in one of the three cases, male infertility or sub-fertility is the cause. But, do you know in many cases the problem is treatable with simple measures? Yes, it may happen. You might have sperms in your semen, which are low in quantity or quality. Some basic tips may help you to improve the quality and quantity of your sperm.
First, we need to know what is meant by quality and quantity of sperm. The quantity means you need to have enough sperm in your semen. Though only one sperm is required to fertilize the ovum( egg), count less than 15 million per milliliter or 39 million per ejaculate is considered low. You may be astonished, but this is true. In healthy individuals, sperm count ranges from 15 million/ml to 200 million/ml. The importance of millions of sperm for fertilization is not clearly understood, but they probably play a role in providing a propulsive effect to reach the fallopian tube.
The quality of the sperm means the morphology and motility of the sperm. Morphologically, a sperm has three main parts: head with a neck, body, and tail. If any of the parts is abnormal or absent or damaged, the sperm will not be able to fertilize the ova. And the sperm must have enough motility (average 40- 81% motile sperms) to travel from the vagina to the fallopian tube via the cervix and uterus. If most of the sperms are immotile, there is little chance of pregnancy.
Don’t get afraid. In many cases, sperm quality and quantity is only borderline low. Luckily there are some ways to improve fertility. We are going to discuss some of those. After reading this article, you will definitely get some help.
Regular physical exercise
Exercise will increase your confidence and testosterone level. It is found that people who lead a physically active lifestyle, have higher hormone levels. Testosterone is required for proper sperm production. It is found in different studies that regular aerobic exercise for 35-50 minutes daily can significantly increase the number, motility, and morphology of sperm. But don’t go for too much strenuous exercise. Sudden physical stress may adversely affect your testosterone level and fertility.
Control your weight
Obesity is a risk factor for subfertility. Especially abdominal obesity is related to low testosterone level and it is found that weight reduction improves sperm quality. Try to maintain the ideal body weight for your height.
If you are in physical or psychological stress, your body responds by producing different steroid hormones. These are mainly glucocorticoids which help you to cope up with the challenging situations. But if you are in stressful events for a long time, persistently raised glucocorticoid level may affect your sperm production. In your testis, there are mainly three types of cells that play an important role in spermatogenesis ( the process of sperm production): germ cells, Sertoli cells, and Leydig cells. In chronic stress, the raised glucocorticoid level may cause damage to these cells. Especially, the Leydig cells are the primary target of glucocorticoid. It is found that stressful life events have a significant negative impact on sperm quantity and motility.
Many men who come for fertility treatment are found to be suffering from anxiety disorder or depression. And a study shows that the treatment of these conditions improve sperm production. Even too much anxiety regarding fertility may affect your sperm production. So, try to alleviate stress and tension. Talk to your friends and family, share your anxiety with them. Get enough sleep. It will help to reduce your stress.
Stay away from smoking
Smoking has a devastating effect on male fertility. A lot of research was conducted to assess the effect of smoking on semen quality. It is proved that smokers have significantly low semen volume and sperm concentration compared to non-smokers. They have a high percentage of immotile spermatozoa. Morphologically abnormal sperms are also found in large amounts in smokers. It is probably the result of oxidative stress produced by smoking. So, stay away from tobacco to get healthy offspring.
Give up alcohol
Most of the studies regarding the effect of alcohol intake showed a negative impact on semen quality. Alcohol impairs the hormonal balance involved in sperm production. Alcoholic people are found to have low testosterone levels. The testicular cells ( Sertoli cells, Leydig cells) involved in spermatogenesis are also damaged. As a consequence sperm production and maturation are impaired. With the increasing intake of alcohol, a progressive deterioration of sperm quality is found. So, to be a happy father, stay away from alcohol.
Take antioxidant supplements
Oxygen is essential for life. But free oxygen radicals may cause damage to living cells. Free oxygen radicals are produced in our body during different metabolic processes. The production increases during any inflammatory process. In a healthy individual, the free oxygen radicals are neutralized by an endogenous antioxidant system. But if the system is overridden by excess free radical production, those harmful molecules will accumulate in the body. This is called oxidative stress. It can be treated with exogenous antioxidants like vitamin A, C, and E, carnitine, etc.
One of the major causes of infertility is oxidative stress within the testis. It may occur due to an inflammatory process or lipid peroxidation in obese people. Different studies showed that oral antioxidant supplementation improved sperm concentration, motility, and morphology. Especially coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene show significant association with semen quality. And alleviating oxidative damage is often the first step to treat infertility.
So, if you are having difficulties getting a baby, take antioxidant-rich foods regularly. You will get those in fresh fruits and vegetables. Specifically, you may take citrus foods for vitamin C, green vegetables for vitamin E, yellow fruits like papaya and pumpkin for carotene, fish, and meat for coenzyme Q10, etc.
Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids
You might have heard about the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. They are essential fatty acids required for a lot of important functions in our body. Multiple studies show that omega 3 fatty acids are important for reproductive function and have a profound effect on semen quality. Supplementing infertile men with omega 3 fatty acids improves sperm motility and semen quality. So, try to take foods rich with omega 3 fatty acids. You will get it a lot in fish and seafood. Other sources include nuts and seeds, soybean oil, fortified eggs, etc.
Take enough vitamins and minerals
You already know that vitamin C, E, and beta carotene(vitamin A) act as antioxidants and play an important role in sperm production. Besides those, vitamin B12 and folic acid supplementation show a significant relationship with sperm count and motility. These are important ingredients required for DNA synthesis and sperm DNA damage is increased in deficiency. Sperms with damaged DNA will not be able to fertilize ova. So try to take vitamin B12 and folate-rich foods regularly. You will get plenty of vitamin B12 in red meat, liver, kidney, etc. Folic acid is mainly found in plant sources. Keep fresh vegetables in your diet chart.
Among minerals, the most important one is zinc. It is an essential element of male fertility. It is required to maintain the lining membrane of your reproductive organs. It also acts as a hormone balancer to aid the function of testosterone and other hormones. Its antioxidant property helps to reduce oxidative stress in semen. It is found that sperm production rate and quality is impeded in zinc deficiency. Supplementation with zinc in infertile or subfertile men showed improved sperm count, motility and morphology. So, take some zinc-containing foods every day. You will get it in meat, beans, seeds and nuts, shellfish, etc.
Stay away from some foods
You already got an idea about the food beneficial for sperm production. But, there are some foods that may be harmful to your semen quality. The most commonly eaten but harmful foods are processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, beef jerky, etc; trans fats, fried foods, and full-fat dairy. Occasional intake is not harmful. But regular intake of these foods may reduce your sperm count.
Get treated for STD
Some sexually transmitted diseases (STD) may lead to infertility by causing testicular damage. Gonorrhea, chlamydia etc can infect the testis. Long term infection may damage testicular tissue leading to impaired sperm production. It often remains undetected and acts as a silent killer. So, be aware of STDs. Visit your doctor for proper evaluation and treatment.
Wear loose underwear
Do you know why your testes are placed out of the body? Because it requires a cooler environment for sperm production and storage. The temperature within your scrotum is 3 lower than body temperature. If this environment gets warmer, sperm production will be impaired. If you wear tight undergarments, your scrotum will be adhered to your body and ultimately get warmer. If this happens regularly for a prolonged period, sperm count will be decreased. So, try to wear loose and cotton-made underwear, avoid synthetic clothing.
Don’t take a hot water bath every day
You may be habituated to take bath in warm water. Many of us do that in the winter. But, don’t stay in the bathtub for a prolonged period if using hot water. Many men even take rest or read newspapers in the bathtub. If you stay in hot water for a long time, the scrotal temperature will be raised. This may reduce your sperm count.
Limit exposure to contaminants
Over the past few decades, the male fertility rate has declined drastically all over the world. Researchers were trying hard to identify the cause. Recent studies show that various chemical contaminants and pollutants have a negative impact on male fertility. The scariest on the list are pesticides. Nowadays, chemical pesticides are used all over the world in every kind of fruit and vegetables. These chemical compounds enter our bodies with foods in trace amounts. Chronically, they may exert harmful effects and reduced semen quality is one of those.
Along with this, widely used plasticizers like DEHP, industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153, etc. are linked with altered semen quality. So,be aware of those. It is difficult to get rid of those at this moment, but try to reduce exposure. Avoid canned foods and take fresh fruits and vegetables.
Be careful about drugs
If you are taking any drug for a long period of time, talk to your doctor regarding its effect on spermatogenesis. Many drugs have a negative impact on fertility. This includes long term steroid therapy, antidepressants like sertraline, anti-fungal like ketoconazole, anti-cancer chemotherapy, etc. When you are trying to be a father, talk to your doctor before starting any new medication.
Maintain a balance between regular sex and abstinence
To make your wife pregnant, it is important to have sex regularly. But, if you ejaculate too frequently, it will definitely be less concentrated. There will be less sperm per ejaculation. Again, if you have sex after long intervals, the quality of the sperm will deteriorate. So, try to maintain a balance, neither too little nor too much. It is advised to have sex at least 5 days a week. But don’t make it more than once in a day, if you are supposed to have low sperm count.
Now, you know about the ways to boost sperm production. But, these tips will help you only when you have working testes. If there is permanent damage to testes or any other coexisting illness, that must be treated first. So, don’t forget to talk to your doctor. That’s the end of the article. Don’t hesitate to share if you found this useful. Have a nice day.