Sperm Health

It takes two people to conceive a baby and both the man and woman can make positive changes to their lifestyles to increase the chances of conceiving.

In order to get pregnant, a man needs to produce sperm. It is vital that the sperm is as healthy as possible. The quality of sperm is measured by count, morphology (shape) and motility (ability to swim).

  • Sperm Count: this is the number of sperm found in a volume of semen. Men who are trying to conceive should try to increase their sperm count as much as possible.
  • Sperm Morphology: this is the size and shape of the sperm. Good sperm should have an oval head and a long tail. Oddly shaped heads and crooked tails can decrease the chance of the sperm being able to reach the egg.
  • Sperm Motility: this is how able the sperm can swim forwards to reach the egg. It is a long journey for the sperm and so it needs to be able propel themselves forwards for long lengths of time and as quickly as possible.

Ways to increase Sperm Count
The following lists the things you can do to help to increase a man’s sperm count:

  • Rest: It is important to get as much rest as possible. While you are sleeping, your body is producing the most sperm. You should aim for eight hours each night.
  • Healthy eating: It has been proven that a diet which is high in protein, rich in vegetables and whole grains and is low in fat is best to allow your body to produce the most sperm.
  • Fluids: it is important for your body to be well hydrated so you must ensure that you drink plenty of water.
  • Weight: Your body will produce more sperm if you are not over or underweight. Visit your doctor for advice on your ideal weight.
  • Stress: If you are stressed or struggling with outside situations, it is possible that this can affect your sperm production. Try and remain calm and take time to relax.
  • Smoking: Smoking decreases your sperm production. It can also affect the health of your unborn baby.
  • Alcohol: There is evidence to suggest that as little as two alcoholic drinks a day can have long term effects on your sperm production. Try and limit your intake as much as possible.
  • Cycling: if you are a cyclist, you should look into changing your bicycle seat to one that allows more air flow. It has been proven that a cycle seat creates friction, heat and stress which can all decrease sperm production.
  • Regular ejaculation: If you are actively trying to conceive, you should ejaculate at least twice a week as this helps to keep your testosterone levels high and ensures good sperm production.

Ways to improve Sperm Morphology
It is important that the morphology (shape) of your sperm is as good as possible to increase your chances of conceiving a baby.  Ways of improving the morphology are:

  • Eat foods that are rich in vitamin C
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce the amount of environmental toxins that you come into contact with. This includes pesticides and household chemicals.
  • Visit your doctor if you are on any prescribed medicines as these may affect the quality of your sperm.

Ways to improve Sperm Motility
As well as the above lists, the following can also help to increase the swimming ability of your sperm.

  • Eating foods rich in vitamin C
  • Avoid extra heat – this includes hot baths, saunas and laptops on your lap
  • Do not wear tight-fitting underwear
  • Sleep naked if possible

You should speak to your Family Planning Clinic or doctor to ask for further advice on improving the quality and quantity of your sperm.

by Jenny, mum to William and James

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