According to a recent Oxford Academic study, over the past 38 years, sperm concentration has declined by 52 percent. This research did not address the causes of these declines however several studies show that exposure to cigarette smoke, alcohol and chemicals affect sperm quality and motility (the ability to swim).
Male infertility can have multiple causes and may depend on genetics, general health, fitness, diseases and dietary contaminants. Although all these factors affect sperm, it is important to realize that a low sperm count may be reversed by making the right lifestyle choices:
1. Eat A Healthy Diet
A study by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology revealed that processed meats and some dairy products cause sperm count and motility to plummet. The good news is that the antioxidants and linolenic acid, found in many types of produce, may improve sperm health. Try incorporating these fruits and veggies into your diet: spinach, bananas, asparagus, broccoli, and carrots for healthier sperm.
Women and men have fertility complications from being under or overweight. By exercising and staying active, you can alleviate these potential risks, but do not take testosterone or other anabolic drugs designed to increase muscle mass. If obese, your chances increase in having abnormal semen parameters (low sperm counts and motility). Another issue from being overweight is that signals from the brain that regulate sperm development are impaired causing decreased levels of testosterone and elevated levels of estrogen.
3. Stop Smoking
A study published in European Urology found that smoking negatively impacted all elements of sperm health including sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology (sperm shape,) which impacts the sperm’s ability to swim to the egg. Once you stop smoking, the health of your sperm has the ability to bounce back relatively quickly.
4. Drink Less Alcohol
Research shows that couples in which both partners drank at least four drinks per week, the odds of live birth were 21% lower compared with couples in which both drank fewer than four drinks per week. Heavy drinkers tend to have lower testosterone levels and reduced sperm quality and quantity. Additional research found that acute increased alcohol consumption in young healthy students showed negative effects on semen parameters, both short and longer term. Overall, reducing your consumption of alcohol will reverse these side effects.
5. Watch Out For Heat Exposure
Heat from laptops and cell phones may affect a man’s sperm count and sperm quality. Although frequent or long visits to saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs do not cause permanent, long-term damage to sperm, exposure to heat may affect fertility. Sperm should return to normal quality and quantity within a few months of discontinuing excessive exposure to heat.
6. Reduce Stress
Stress can reduce your sexual satisfaction and impair your fertility. Research shows that prolonged stress raises levels of cortisol, which has strong negative effects on testosterone. As the level of cortisol goes up, testosterone levels tend to go down.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to improve your sperm motility. Research has shown that men who get 7-8 hours of sleep have a 42% higher chance of getting their partners pregnant than men who sleep less.
While there are many unknown factors that can cause male infertility, the lifestyle changes listed here have been shown to make a remarkable difference in men whose habits are affecting their fertility and sperm count. Because men produce millions of new sperm every day, positive lifestyle changes can be highly beneficial. Sperm takes about 74 days to mature so if you are planning on making these lifestyle changes, you only need to wait about three months before seeing improvements in sperm quality and increasing your chance for reproductive success.
If you are a male with infertility issues, you have options. Andrologists are doctors that specialize in treating male infertility, a subspecialty of Urology. Dr. Joseph LaNasa, previous Chairman of the Department of Urology at LSU Medical School, is an andrologist and a member of the FINO team. He sees patients in his private office suite in the FINO Metairie office building.
Contact The Fertility Institute today to talk to Dr. LaNasa and our other fertility doctors in Mandeville, Metairie, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. We will help you incorporate these lifestyle changes and increase your chances for fertility.