Fertility has traditionally been considered the woman’s ‘responsibility’. In fact, female factors alone account for 35-40% of fertility problems, male factors alone are the cause in 30-35% of cases, and the rest is a combined problem. (Source: West (2003) p.138).
It takes 100 days for sperm to develop: 74 days to form and 20-30 days to mature completely. To affect any improvements to the sperm quality and quantity, changes have to be sustained for at least this length of time (i.e. three months) before conception.
Sperm quality and quantity can often be improved by lifestyle changes and acupuncture treatment.
Negative influences on sperm formation
High temperatures: sperm will not develop or function well if their temperature is higher than 32 C. Avoid spending a long time in a hot bath, sauna, jacuzzi, hot tub or doing exercise that makes you very hot. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing that could heat up sperm.
Alcohol: this interferes with the secretion of testosterone, speeding up its conversion to oestrogen and lowers sperm count as well as sex drive. The breakdown product of alcohol metabolism, acetaldehyde, is toxic to sperm.
Smoking: smoking doubles the numbers of free radicals produced in the body reduces sperm count and motility, and increases sperm abnormalities and genetic defects in the embryo.
Recreational drugs: the active ingredient in cannabis is chemically related to testosterone. It tends to build up in the testicles, lowering libido and causing impotence. Cannabis lowers sperm count as does cocaine.
Prescription drugs: a number of prescribed drugs can also have detrimental effects on sperm e.g. chemotherapy, antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-malaria medication, steroids, beta-blockers.
Stress: Long hours, poor diet ad high levels of stress take their toll on sperm production.
Weight: if you are more than 20% under your recommended weight, your hormone production may be affected. Obesity can also have detrimental effects on the quality and quantity of sperm.
Systemic fever, infections, hormonal dysfunctions and exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals can also have negative effect on male fertility.
Lifestyle changes which can bring improvements in male fertility:
- Eating healthily
- Taking a good multivitamin, mineral and DHA supplement
- Finding time in the day to unwind, learning deep breathing and meditation techniques
- Having regular acupuncture treatment
- Stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, avoiding caffeine and recreational drugs
- Drinking at least 2 litres of water a day
See Male Subfertility Factors for more details
Sources: West Z (2003) Fertility & Conception: the complete guide to getting pregnant Dorling Kindersley