Do you know that infertility is quite common? Up to 15% of couples will experience infertility. Infertility is defined as inability to achieve pregnancy after 1 year of regular unprotected sex. In 30% to 50% of cases of infertility, male factors that are the issue. Semen quality can be one of the factors of male infertility. In a study looking at sperm donors from 2007 to 2017, there was a progressive drop in sperm count, concentration and motility. Here are some tips that can help improve your sperm quality:
- Reduce your weight: Increased weight is thought to be related to increased oestradiol (the female hormone). This hormone can lead to decreased sperm production. It has also been shown in studies to reduce your sperm motility. So reducing your weight if you are overweight should improve sperm quality.
- Physical activity: I tell my patients who are not exercising that they really do need to start some sports. It may be a thrice weekly 3 to 5 km jog, tennis or some other activity that they can do on a regular basis. At the same time, I do tell my extreme endurance athletic patients that they may need to cut back on extreme or elite levels of activity as it can negatively affect their sperm quality. The main aim is moderate activity which has been shown to improve semen quality.
- Cut smoking: Smoking is not good for you. It can increase the risk of a stroke, a heart attack, lung disease and multiple types of cancers. Multiple studies have shown that smoking also reduces sperm production, motility and also morphology (shape).
- Alcohol consumption: When it comes to alcohol, Shakespeare got it right in Macbeth when he said “Drink, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire but takes away the performance”. Not only does it affect sexual performance but it can also reduce sperm quality. Moderate consumption is alright for sperm quality but high consumption of more than 2 drinks a day is not good for sperm quality.
There are a few other factors to consider. Many places prescribe antioxidant supplements to improve semen quality. Unfortunately, the evidence is pretty weak. Then again they are relatively safe to take and the main side effects are on your pocket. If you are into body building you may have been introduced to testosterone supplements. This is a big no no as it will suppress your own testosterone and also sperm production. Lastly, wearing loose underwear like boxers can help improve semen quality by keeping the testis further away from the body.
So in summary, some changes to your lifestyle can improve the quality of your semen and your health in general. In the mean time, if you and your partner are having problems conceiving you should see a urologist as up to 50% of cases are related to the man. Your friendly urologist can do a semen analysis and do an examination to see if there are any other factors that need to be addressed.