Men’s Health Week (12-18 June) focuses on “hazardous waist”, highlighting the fact that poor eating habits lead to poor health. But a lesser-known fact is that what a man eats has a direct impact on the health of his sperm1.
Because most fertility treatment is focused on the woman, another lesser-known fact is that half of all infertility problems are related to men’s sperm. And most of the male issues are down to poor quality sperm – of the tens of millions that are ejaculated, perhaps only 50 will make it as far as the woman’s Fallopian tubes to meet the egg, so sperm health and fitness is crucial. Obesity and diet have been linked in clinical studies to reduced fertility.
Andrologist Professor Allan Pacey from Sheffield University has provided top tips for sperm health below. He says:
Many studies have now shown that men who eat a diet higher in antioxidants generally have better quality sperm than men who don’t.
The quality of sperm is measured by concentration (how many millions there are), motility (if they are Olympic standard swimmers or lazy loafers), morphology (if they are perfectly formed or damaged) and vitality (the percentage of living, healthy sperm in a sample).
Androferti, a specially formulated mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, has been shown to improve all these sperm quality parameters2, reduce genetic damage3 and improve conception rates4.
Here are Prof Pacey’s top five tips for tip-top sperm:
1. Ejaculate regularly:
Sperm are produced all the time, but often men with a low sperm count or sperm with poor motility try save up their sperm by not ejaculating regularly. However, this can do more harm than good as old sperm begin to die and this can damage the new more vigorous sperm being produced. So, the best advice is to ejaculate two or three times per week, preferably during intercourse with your partner.
2. Get checked for chlamydia:
People often think that chlamydia is responsible for infertility in women, and that’s true. But it can also damage sperm production, cause blockages in the small tubes designed to carry sperm out of the testicle, or can even latch on to sperm and kill them. Often men and women don’t even know they have chlamydia and so it’s a good idea to get checked with your partner before you try for a baby either with your GP, your local Genito Urinary Medicine Clinic or Family Planning Clinic.
3. Eat healthy:
There is no need for a faddy diet, just make sure you are getting five portions of fruit and vegetables each day – more if you can manage it. If you don’t like eating your greens, then a homemade smoothie can be a good way to get all the goodness in you. And if you can’t stomach a smoothie, take a supplement! Make sure it’s a good quality one, such as Androferti.
4. Keep your cool:
Various studies have shown that men who wear tight underwear are more likely to have lower numbers of swimming sperm compared to men who wear boxers. So your tighties might look sexy but they may not produce the goods. This is particularly important for men who drive all day for work – this can really heat up your testicles, so take breaks and hang loose. Also, taking long hot baths or using a sauna could in theory reduce sperm production too. No one wants you to be smelly, just take a shower rather than a bath.
5. Don’t smoke or take drugs:
The chemicals and toxins in cigarettes damage the DNA contained in sperm. This can increase the risk of miscarriage and has even been linked to an increased risk of some diseases in any children conceived. We don’t know enough about how street drugs affect fertility in men, but we do know that men who regularly smoke marijuana generally have poorer quality sperm than men who don’t. And men who take anabolic steroids for gym performance are usually infertile.
1 Palmer, Nicole O., Impact of obesity on male fertility, sperm function and molecular composition, Spermatogenesis 2:4, 253-263; October/November/December 2012; © 2012 Landes Bioscience.
2 Mateos J, Cabo J.A. “Evaluación de un compuesto de antioxidantes sobre los parámetros seminales concentración, movilidad y morfología espermática en pacientes con oligoastenoteratozoospermia idiopática”. Rev. Int. Androl. 2011; 9(3):109-115.
3 C. Abad, M. J. Amengual, J. Gosalvez, K. Coward, N. Hannaoui, J. Benet, A. Garcıa-Peiro. Effects of oral antioxidant treatment upon the dynamics of human sperm DNA fragmentation and subpopulations of sperm with highly degraded DNA. Andrologia. 2013 Jun;45(3):211-6. doi: 10.1111/and.12003. Epub 2012 Sep 3.
4 Kefer JC, AgarwalA, Sabanegh E. Role of antioxidants in the treatment of male infertility. Int J Urol 2009,16, 449-457.