Male Fertility and Sperm Count: Everything You Need To Know
Do you know your sperm count? How well do you know your sperm, or anyone’s sperm, for that matter? The truth is, you might have spent an entire lifetime falling for the silliest myths ever.Aah, sperm! The miraculous, microscopic beings that live fast, and die young.
Infertility is described, in medical terms, as the inability of a couple to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. And more times than not, people just presume that the problem is with the woman, even though research suggests that there are always equal chances of either of the sexes being infertile. In 35-40 per cent of the cases, the male may be holding the couple back; in 35-40 per cent cases, the female. And there are 15-20 per cent chances that the cause of infertility is a combination of the conditions of both the partners (remember Chandler and Monica?).
So, while enough and more is known about endometriosis, ectopic pregnancies, PCOD, and other female reproductive issues that impact fertility or pregnancy, less is known about men, their dear sperm, and what might be holding the ‘sexy swimmers’ back. In this article, I’m going to address the following:
- How to check male fertility naturally, if at all.
- How to increase sperm count and how to make sperm stronger for pregnancy.
- Foods to increase male fertility.
- The greatest myths about sperm motility and male fertility
How to check male fertility naturally
I have bad news for you. In a majority of cases, infertility in men is asymptomatic. Which means, that there are no noticeable telling signs. Erection, ejaculation, and the look and consistency of semen, all usually appear normal. So, in most cases, the only time infertility is found out is when a couple fails to conceive. Truth be told, only a medical practitioner can ascertain, through medical tests, if an individual has either low sperm count or quality that might be thereby becoming a barrier to pregnancy.
How to increase sperm count | How to make sperm stronger for pregnancy
In order to increase your fertility, you would have to work towards 2 things:
a. Increasing sperm count
b. Bettering the quality of your sperm (motility and volume)
Here are the major culprits that may be coming in between you and your fertility that are retarding your chances of pregnancy:
- Exercise: Did you know that exercise is the ultimate testosterone booster? So, if you are a couch potato, then becoming more active should be your top priority.
- Stress: Chronic stress and resultant high cortisol levels could do more harm to the body than getting hit in the testicles would. Stress is a notorious testosterone-killer. Testosterone is instrumental in sperm production and libido activation in the body. So, if you haven’t been feeling ‘up for it’ lately or are struggling with sperm health, then the solution to the problem begins with countering stress.
- Diet: As with any change we make to our bodies, nutrition plays a big role in having a healthy reproductive system. While antioxidants help protect our bodies, the foods we eat provide the building blocks for hormones, and help support reproductive efforts. Though your diet may be ‘healthy’ in the conventional sense, a diet aimed at reproductive health and fertility may be slightly different. Read more about this by clicking here.
Foods to increase male fertility
Have you checked your pantry? Maybe the answer lies in the kitchen. Click here to know the everyday foods that hurt male fertility.
Also called the ‘Indian ginseng’, this medicinal herb is Ayurveda’s solution to a gamut of health issues. As per an extensive study conducted in 2013, 46 males with oligospermia or low sperm count experienced a 167% increase in sperm count, a 53% increase in semen volume, and a 57% increase in sperm motility after consuming a full-spectrum root extract of Ashwagandha (675 mg/d in three doses) for 90 days. Research says it all.
2. Avocados, salmon, and dark chocolate:
The reason these 3 foods are mentioned here is not because they have to be consumed together. Ew! It’s because these 3 are rich in healthy fats – that are crucial to sperm membrane development.
3. Berries, spinach, red cabbage, beans, and beetroot:
These foods contain antioxidants like selenium, vitamin C and E, glutathione, and coenzyme Q10 that are believed to contribute towards better sperm health.
4. Garlic, walnuts, broccoli, and turmeric:
These foods are known to contain specific chemicals that are conducive to an increased fertility.
That brings us to the most fun part of this article.
Here’s everything you should know, if you want to be sperm-savvy:
1. Pineapple does NOT make him taste better, but the food in general could decide his sperm quality –
The pineapple theory, unfortunately, has never been scientifically proven (seriously, somebody please work on it already!). However, the one theory that has been proven is that the quality of food eaten by a man directly impacts the quality of his sperm. Studies have shown that men who consumed foods rich in DHA or omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and whole grains, had better sperm motility. What’s more? Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes have been seen to reduce sperm concentration, and overall count.
2. Too much sex or masturbation won’t wear him out of sperm –
In fact, ejaculation, at least 4 times a month, is known to better sperm morphology by protecting them from oxidative damage, which happens when they stay in the body for too long.
3. main threats to sperm –
Devices like phones, tablets, and laptops, which use wireless technology, are known to cause oxidative damage to sperm cells, because of the emission of radio-frequency electromagnetic waves. These waves act as free radicals, and cause sperm immobility, cell death, and a reduced DNA integrity. Heat is also well known to have deleterious effects on sperm count and quality. It is advisable for men to not use these devices on their laps, and to not keep phones or tabs in trouser pockets.
4. Sperm, the underdogs –
Surprise, surprise! Sperm has the resilience to survive inside a hostile female genital tract for much longer than popularly believed. A study published in the Biology of Reproduction (1984) showed that sperm can live for up to 5 days inside a woman, even though a more practical rate of survival is said to be 2 days.
5. The super rare, but super possible, sperm allergy –
It is possible for someone to be allergic to sperm/semen. It is symptomised by post-coital redness, swelling, pain, itching, and a burning sensation in the vaginal area. But considering the rareness of the condition, doctors first check for vaginal infections, when such symptoms are seen. Sperm has also had some other controversial cases, like when a 20-year-old woman (allergic to nuts) had an allergic reaction to her partner’s sperm, after he had Brazilian nuts (even though Brazilian nuts are not technically nuts). It is also possible for a man to be allergic to his own sperm, or sperm generally, and it is characterised by flu-like symptoms (runny nose, fever, eye irritation, fatigue etc.) that a man may experience right after ejaculation. Now at least we know what they mean by sex fever.
6. Perpetual production –
Unlike eggs or ova in the female body, sperm cells are continuously produced in the testicles, taking only about 2-and-a-half months to fully mature. This constant renewal ensures that a man can always improve his sperm quality by making lifestyle changes like quitting alcohol and cigarettes, eating healthy, exercising, etc.
So, where are you on the sperm scale? Uh, don’t tell me! Just dwell on it, okay?