Ever been on the receiving end of the infamous break up tagline, “It’s not you, it’s me? Definitely not anyone’s favorite conversation, however, in some circumstances, it might very well be true. Especially in regard to sperm and male fertility. There’s a good chance it’s not you, it’s him.
Did you know that more than 40% of couples who are unable to have children are unable to do so because of problems with the man’s sperm. Fortunately for men, sperm analysis is non-invasive, relatively quick, and yields invaluable information about a man’s fertility. What are they looking for exactly in my sperm one might wonder. Well, specifically the quality, quantity, and motility. Let me backup a beat. First up, quality sperm should resemble the diagrams you saw back in fifth grade sex ed. Ideal quality sperm are characterized by an oval head and long tail, structures that work together to mobilize and propel the sperm forward. Sperm whose structures are less typical, including sperm with kinked or doubled tails, shrunken or misshapen heads, or overall unusual shape and composition are less likely to fertilize an egg. It’s ideal to have more than 4% of a man’s sperm resemble textbook sperm. Next up, quantity. Indicators of fertility in regards to quantity can be about of sperm per ejaculation, for example, a single ejaculation from a likely fertile male should typically yield more than 39 million sperm. Finally, motility. To reach an egg, sperm need sperm that can move and swim strong enough to penetrate and egg. A man is looking for at least 40% of his sperm to be swimming, wriggling, or moving at any given time.
What do I do if my fertility score is low? Not to fear, one low count does not always indicate a problem. First off, it is important to rule out environmental factors. There are many external factors that can temporarily impact sperm production, including but not limited to ill-fitting or too snug underwear, insomnia, performance anxiety, stress, exposure to extreme temperature (heat), or frequent intense cycling.
In addition, there are some things you can do that might positively impact sperm health, most of which include minor lifestyle changes.
- Begin taking a multivitamin that includes folate, such as BeliMen. This specially tailored multivitamin provides optimal nutrients for sperm health and function.
- Maintain a healthy diet with nutrient rich foods
- Physical activity. Note, it’s important to exercise without overdoing it (be aware of extreme heat and exhaustion which can lead to low sperm count)
- Be cognizant of stress.
- Stop smoking and avoid tobacco products
- Avoid hot tubs and extremely warm temperatures
- Limit alcohol (no more than 1-2 drinks per day)
- Avoid drug use (marijuana is known to decrease sperm motility)
- Skip the personal lubricants during sex (also can negatively impact sperm motility).
- Talk to you doctor about your current medications. Some medicines can reduce or impact sperm production and fertility
To wrap it up, ultimately if you’ve been wondering, is it him? Is it me? It might be worth inquiring with your doctor. In the meantime, focus on what you can control, including taking a daily multivitamin, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding to avoid factors that could contribute toward sperm count or decrease quantity. And when in down, seek answers via a fertility specialist, they talk about sperm all day long. And hang in there. You’ve got this!
Grunebaum, Amos. “How to Increase Sperm Count.” Male Fertility post. www.babymed.com. 9 February 2019. https://www.babymed.com/tips-improving-sperm-count