Having healthy sperm is important for male fertility. Problems with sperm quality are one cause of male infertility. Fortunately, there are many steps that men can take to improve the quality and quantity of their sperm. Here are some tips on how to improve the quality of your sperm.
Poor sperm quality is a cause of male infertility.
Semen analysis assesses sperm quality: sperm count, motility (movement), and morphology (shape).
Diet, exercise, testosterone levels, and daily habits can all affect sperm quality.
Improving your diet, getting enough exercise, getting enough antioxidants, and taking herbal supplements can improve sperm quality.
Sperm and fertility
Spermatozoa, commonly called sperm, are male reproductive cells. Sperm is produced by the testicles and mixed with secretions from the prostate gland to create semen. Individual sperm are single cells, each of which has the potential to fertilize a female egg.
Infertility can be caused by both male and female factors. For men, infertility can be caused by poor production of healthy sperm or medical conditions that prevent normal ejaculation. Overall health, hormone levels, and other factors can affect sperm production.
Semen analysis is a test used to assess sperm function and diagnose causes of male infertility. Semen analysis assesses the volume of semen produced, the concentration of sperm in the semen, sperm motility (movement), and sperm morphology (shape). Problems with sperm quality can include low semen volume, low sperm concentration or sperm count, sperm that do not move properly, or sperm that have an unusual shape. A healthy male typically produces 15 million to 200 million sperm in each milliliter of semen. A low sperm count is defined as having less than 15 million sperm per milliliter or less than 39 million total sperm overall. Healthy sperm must also be able to move, or swim, in a forward direction and have a normal shape to fertilize an egg. Anything that lowers your sperm count impairs sperm motility or causes abnormally shaped sperm can cause male infertility.
What can cause poor sperm quality?
Poor sperm quality can be caused by many things, including low testosterone levels, nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions, use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, or exposing the testicles to too much heat.
Obesity, alcohol abuse, zinc deficiency, folate deficiency, and eating too much soy or trans fatty acids can lower sperm counts. Sperm motility and morphology can be affected by smoking and high-fat dairy foods. Poor sleep habits (too much or too little) and poor dental health are also linked to poor semen quality and male infertility. Stress is linked to lower testosterone levels and male infertility.
The temperature has a significant effect on sperm production. To make healthy sperm, the testicles need to be cooler than the body temperature. Wearing tight clothing, such as briefs or compression shorts, spending time in a hot bath or hot tub, or using a laptop computer in your lap can lower your sperm count and sperm motility. Wearing boxer shorts and keeping your testicles cool and comfortable can reverse this effect.
What can improve sperm quality?
Overall health, proper diet, and adequate exercise all have a positive effect on testosterone levels and sperm quality. Maintaining healthy testosterone levels is important for healthy sperm production. Sperm quality can be improved by using vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal supplements, and eating foods rich in antioxidants.
Getting plenty of antioxidants by eating healthier or taking supplements can improve sperm quality. Vitamin C improves sperm count, motility, and morphology, vitamin D improves testosterone levels, zinc and folic acid (folate) are needed to produce healthy sperm, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) improves sperm count and motility, and omega-3 fatty acids improve sperm motility. Zinc can also improve low testosterone levels caused by intense exercise.
According to research, some herbal supplements can improve sperm quality. Tribulus Terrestris (puncture vine) has been shown to improve sperm count, but may only be effective in older men. Fenugreek extract (Trigonella foenum-graecum) has been shown to improve testosterone levels and sexual function. Ashwagandha root extract (Withania somnifera), also called Indian ginseng, can improve sperm quality. Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) may also improve sperm quality, but more research is needed to determine its effectiveness.
What to do and what to avoid
What to avoid
- High-fat dairy foods.
- Trans fatty acids.
- Briefs, hot baths, and hot tubs.
What to do
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Get proper exercise.
- Wear boxer shorts or other loose-fitting underwear.
- Get more antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, folic acid, coenzyme Q10, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Try an herbal supplement: Tribulus Terrestris, ashwagandha root extract, fenugreek extract, or maca root.
Better health means better sperm
Poor sperm quality is a common cause of male infertility. Low sperm count, poor sperm movement, and misshapen sperm can be caused by several factors. Fortunately, many of the things that cause poor sperm quality can be improved through diet, exercise, and the use of nutritional and herbal supplements. Improving your health can improve your sexual function, including the health of your sperm. Making healthy choices isn’t always easy, but sometimes you just need the right motivation. If you are having trouble conceiving then it might be time to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
- Indian Journal of Pathology & Microbiology. Alcohol Intake and Cigarette Smoking: Impact of Two Major Lifestyle Factors on Male Fertility.
- Nutrition Research. Zinc Levels in Seminal Plasma are Associated with Sperm Quality in Fertile and Infertile Men.
- Fertility and Sterility. Low Seminal Plasma Folate Concentrations are Associated with Low Sperm Density and Count in Male Smokers and Nonsmokers.
- Human Reproduction. Soy Food and Isoflavone Intake in Relation to Semen Quality Parameters Among Men from an Infertility Clinic.
- Human Reproduction. Dairy Food Intake in Relation to Semen Quality and Reproductive Hormone Levels Among Physically Active Young Men.