10 Ways of Improving Sperm Quality

Causes Male Factor Infertility
What Causes Male Factor Infertility?
24th September 2019
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10 Ways of Improving Sperm Quality

Male Fertility

10 Ways of Improving Sperm Quality

When a couple is faced with infertility, there is a 50% chance the cause is male-related due to poor sperm quality. This means sperm is unable to accomplish fertilisation, either because of low quantity, abnormal shape or abnormal movement.

The World Health Organisation established normal sperm quality parameters:

WHO Sperm Parameters

What can affect sperm quality?

A lot of factors can affect sperm quality. An interesting study revealed that there is a general decline that has been going on for a while. It’s a fact: men are getting less fertile! This review and meta-analysis published in 2017 found out there has been an average decline in sperm count of 1.4% per year between 1973 and 2011. Even though we know men are becoming less fertile, reasons for this happening are unclear. In our most recent blog post, we covered several causes of male related infertility, from medical, to environmental to lifestyle. Check it out here. 

What can we do to improve sperm quality?

  1. Age: Men have a biological clock too! The genetic quality of sperm, as well as volume and motility decrease with age, which means that older sperm are less likely to result in a successful pregnancy and it also increases the chances of genetic and chromosomal defects. So, for successful pregnancies and healthy babies, we need to start considering parenthood earlier in life.
  2. Heat: Sperm are heat-sensitive and cannot endure high temperatures. So, some activities to avoid are: sauna, bathing for a long time in hot water, tanning bed sessions for a long-time, placement of a laptop computer over the groin for extended use.
  3. Physical trauma: Trauma to the testicles can harm the capillaries that supply the sperm producing tissue. Avoid physical trauma that might affect your fertility. Cycling, for instance, may cause trauma when overdone; it is associated with nerve entrapment syndromes presenting as genitalia numbness followed by, when in advanced stages, erectile dysfunction. Other less common symptoms include penile thrombosis, torsion of spermatic cord, prostatitis, etc. It is okay to ride a bike if it isn’t a “24/7 activity”.
  4. Medication: Some medication can lower sperm quality: SSRI (lower count), antibiotics (lower production), antidepressants, anti-epileptics, propranolol, opioids, calcium channel blockers, statins. Steroids can also reduce sperm quality. Check your medications and discuss with your doctor or nurse if these are affecting your fertility. Your doctor may also prescribe some medication that improves sperm quality, like: clomiphene citrate oral (Serophene), serophene oral, Gonal-f® RFF Redi-ject® (follitropin alfa or gonal-F) or subcutaneous (under the skin) injections, antibiotics (in case of urinary or reproductive tract infection), human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) (brand names Choragon and Pregnyl), letrozole or anastrozole, exogenous androgens.
  5. Stress: Long-term stress appears to reduce sperm quality. Relaxation techniques and self-confidence can help you manage stress.  Sleeping well, eating right, balancing work and rest, having hobbies can also help.
  6. Substance abuse: Tobacco, cannabis, marijuana and cocaine lower sperm quality. Tobacco and alcohol consumption are widely socially acceptable, but its negative effects on fertility consistently reported in the last 30 years. More recently, marijuana is starting to increase in popularity too but impairments in spermatogenesis and sperm parameters, and increased chromosomal defectiveness and oxidative stress have been confirmed.
  7. Exercise: Exercise improves blood flow, increases the metabolic rate, and promotes the secretion of certain hormones.The endurance and resistance training can lead to vasodilation of the testis artery and increased production of testosterone, which betters sperm production and improves fertility. Moderate physical activity 3 times a week can increase sperm volume and concentration.
  8. Diet:What we eat affects the quality of sperm. Evidence suggests that drinking sugared drinks reduces sperm quality; soy products also decrease sperm quality; as well as diets rich in processed meat, potatoes, full-fat dairy products, coffee, alcohol and sugar-sweetened drinks and sweets. On the other hand, Folate (vitamin B9) can protect sperm cells; healthy diets with omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. walnuts and salmon), some antioxidants (e.g. blackberries, strawberries and spinach) and vitamins, and low saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids can help with sperm quality.
  9. Timing of ejaculation:Evidence shows that a period of time of less than one day reduces sperm count by at least 20%. Longer periods of abstinence also reduce pregnancy rate. The key seems to be an abstinence period of only 1 or 2 days. The afternoon seems to be better for sperm quality than the morning. And if you’re collecting sperm for IVF, intercourse seems to provide 70-120% more sperm, with better motility (movement) and morphology (shape) when compared to masturbation. It also generates 25-45% more volume.
  10. Supplements: even with a healthy diet it can be challenging to reach the required amount of nutrients and vitamins to improve sperm quality, so supplements can be really helpful.
  • CoQ10 (increases sperm count)
  • Alpha-tocopherol (increases sperm count)
  • Carnitine (improves motility and morphology)
  • Vitamin E and C (reduces sperm DNA damage)
  • Zinc (increases sperm count and motility)
  • Vitamin D and calcium (also seem to be related to sperm health)
  • Arginine (increases sperm count and poor motility)
  • Fenugreek (seems to improve sperm count)
  • Ashwagandha (indian ginseng) (increases sperm count)

Always talk to your doctor or nurse before starting supplements.

Even though men produce millions of sperm every day, new sperm takes about 2.5 to 3 months to fully mature. Even though you may make changes in your lifestyle today, you will only have an effect in your sperms’ health in 3 months’ time. It’s all about making change and sticking to it! However, making change can be hard so make sure you get support from a professional fertility coach, that can help you maintain the healthy lifestyle.

Book a free phone consultation here to discuss your male fertility and sperm quality. The consultation is with the awarded Nurse Consultant and NLP Coach Andreia Trigo, creator of the Enhanced Fertility ProgrammeIt’s never too late to start your fertility support plan, why not start today?

About Andreia Trigo

Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc is the founder of The Enhanced Fertility Programme, multi-awarded nurse consultant, fertility coach, author and TEDx speaker.  Combining her fourteen-year medical experience, CBT, NLP and her own eighteen-year infertility journey, she has developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. The Enhanced Fertility Programme is helping people worldwide and has been awarded Best Innovation in Business 2018 and E-Business of 2018.

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