Understanding more about how your body works will help you make informed decisions when trying to conceive.
Men produce sperm on a continuous basis
It is important for your body to have all the nutrients and vitamins needed for healthy sperm development. Diet, lack of certain nutrients and lifestyle factors such as smoking, and lack of exercise can all have a negative impact on sperm quality. Research has shown that specific nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins can improve sperm quality.
Sperm require approximately 90 days to mature and to become capable of fertilisation. Therefore, lifestyle changes you make today will take 3 or more months to show up in your semen analysis.
There are five main parameters used to evaluate sperm quality
- Sperm count
- Sperm motility (how well the sperm can move)
- Sperm speed
- Sperm concentration
- Sperm morphology (shape and size)
Testicles like to be cooler than the rest of the body
Testicles have to be at a slightly cooler temperature for normal sperm development. Muscles in the scrotum can either contract or relax, to move the testicles closer or farther away from the body and adjust the temperature.
It takes about 3 months for sperm to develop and mature
Sperm requires approximately 74 days to mature and up to 20 additional days to become capable of fertilisation.
It’s not just women who have a “biological clock”
There is increasing evidence that the quality and the quantity of sperm deteriorates with age. Men after the age of 35 also have more DNA fragmentation in their sperm.
Poor lifestyle choices can reduce your fertility
Smoking, drinking excessively, not exercising, not getting enough sleep and being overweight can reduce your fertility.
Prescribed and over the counter drugs can affect fertility
Check that your prescription and over the counter medicines aren’t contributing to your infertility.
Some occupations can expose you to chemicals that can reduce fertility in men and women. Heat, X-rays, metals and pesticides are known to affect fertility, but many physical and chemical agents have not even been assessed yet. If you’re concerned speak to your doctor.
Stress can affect your fertility
Many of us lead busy and stressful lives, and trying for a baby can add to this stress. Stress can contribute to a loss of libido (sex drive), which in turn can reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse. Stress hormones like cortisol can inhibit the release of testosterone.
Hypogonadism is a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone, the male sex hormone that plays a significant role in making sperm. This could be caused by injury, infection or genetic disorders.
A varicocele is a varicose vein within the loose bag of skin that holds your testicles.
Varicoceles are common and occur in 15-20% of men. Varicocele can result in low sperm production and decreased sperm quality. However, not all varicoceles affect sperm quality.
Adapting your lifestyle
Making simple changes to your lifestyle not only improves your health but can also increase your chances of conception
Exercise is important for maintaining good health and can also improve fertility. Fast walking, Yoga and Pilates will not only help get you get into shape but it can also reduce stress.
Eat a varied diet
A balanced and varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and reducing animal fats, salt, sugar, and processed foods, is beneficial for fertility.
Maintain a normal weight
Men who have a body mass index of more than 29 are more likely to have reduced fertility. Obesity is also linked to infertility
Reduce consumption of alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can damage the quality of your sperm. Reduce alcoholic drinks if you and your partner are trying for a baby.
Get enough sleep
Your sperm cells are like every other cell in the body. If you’re deprived of sleep your body and its cells can’t repair and heal itself.
Smoking is not only bad for your health, it also reduces your fertility, and can be harmful for the unborn child. Stop smoking to increase your chances of conception.
Keep things cool
High temperatures can damage sperm. Avoid hot tubs and hot baths. Avoiding sitting for long periods of time as this can increase scrotal temperatures.
Have sex regularly
The more intercourse a couple has, the higher the chances of getting pregnant, but frequent ejaculation also reduces the amount of sperm produced. A good choice is to have sex every other day.