That bacon burger quaffed down at lunch ain’t doing your sperm bank any favors. Two months ago, at the annual meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, researchers presented a series of findings on the state of things spermy.
Processed meats are bad for sperm. And if you really want to be a father, put the TV remote down and do some yard work.
Just like your bank account, your sperm bank is a series of deposits and withdrawals. You’re looking for quality and quantity with your swimmers. They should be social too, with a knack for movement so they’re more likely to get intimate with the target of their affection: the elusive egg.
Quantity, Quality and Motility
Your scrotum is home to an ecosystem of happy little swimmers just begging to go forth and spread your DNA. Well, they’re supposed to be anyway – the Mayo Clinic says that guys with at least 15 million sperm per milliliter are more likely to be fertile, and with the following traits:
Quantity – This is a numbers game, gents.
Quality – Sperm are stream-lined too, with an oval head and a long tail to propel them forward. Normal sperm do, anyway, and the more you have, the better odds of conception,
Motility – Like William Wallace of Braveheart fame, swimmers like FREEEEEDOOOOOOMMMMM!!! (sorry). Valid point though – you’re more likely to conceive if 40% of your sperm can wriggle, swim and manouvre through a women’s reproductive system, otherwise known as motility.
Break it down and your sperm are really just little versions of you. They’re your seed, reflecting your health and lifestyle choices and the liklihood they’ll help you go forth and multiply. And this brings us to the topic of this article: how to top up your sperm bank or make hefty withdrawals.
According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, exercise may boost a man’s sperm count and increase chance of conception. Guys who exercised at least an hour each day had 48% higher concentrations of sperm compared to guys who did less than an hour per week.
Guys who worked outdoors did especially well, although men who pushed weights were no slouches either, with 25% more sperm than guys who didn’t lift metal.
Consisting of 137 men who provided semen samples and answered questionnaires about their regular levels of physical activity, the study results were among other research presented in Boston last month regarding male fertility. The findings are prelimary too, and the mechanism by which exercise boosts sperm count remains unknown, though study co-author Audrey Gaskins points out that weightlifting is linked to higher levels of testosterone and better insulin sensitivity.
And outdoor activity may increase male fertility thanks to higher levels of vitamin D, though again, this is speculation.
The one exception to the link between exercise and higher sperm count was cycling. Men who rode more than 90 minutes a week had 34% less sperm than guys who didn’t ride. That could be owing to pressure placed against the scrotum by the bicycle seat, or a combination of that with increased temperature of the testicles which, as we’ll see, is no friend of plentiful sperm.
Watching TV: WITHDRAWAL
If active guys were more fertile, it’s no surprise that couch potatoes were the opposite. According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, guys who watched 20 hours of boob tube have roughly half the sperm count of guys who spent very little time in front of the TV.
The study also reinforces the results from the Harvard research mentioned above. Despite that it took place eight months earlier, the British study found that guys who exercised 15 hours a week had a whopping 73% more sperm than men who moved about less than five hours a week.
The couch potato lifestyle hit where it counts, with heavy TV watchers experiencing 44% lower sperm count that guys who watched the least. And don’t think that switching formats, from TV to DVD or videos will pack less of a punch on your testes – the researchers note the combination of inactivity and sitting on a couch for long periods may raise scrotum temperature and otherwise make life miserable for your swimmers.
The couch potato lifestyle hit where it counts, with heavy TV watchers experiencing 44% lower sperm count that guys who watched the least.
Like the Harvard study, the results here are prelimary and do not prove a causal effect between TV exposure and lower sperm count. The researchers point out the latter does not necessarily hamper a man’s fertility or his chance to become a father.
Just the same, the study adds further weight to the Harvard study, that active men tend to have more sperm and of higher quality – and that spending life in front of a screen doesn’t help your sperm bank.
Eating Fish: DEPOSIT
Aspiring Dads should swap that side of bacon for a salmon filet. More evidence presented at the October conference suggests that fish might boost sperm count.
Both white meat fish and the darker variety were linked to improved semen. Guys who ate white fish like cod and halibut had better sperm shape than guys who ate the least. And an even more notable finding: men who ate dark meat fish, like salmon, blue fish and tuna, had roughly 34% higher total sperm counts than guys who did not partake in dark fish – one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
Conversely, the researchers also found that eating one to three daily servings of processed meat, like bacon, had worse sperm shape (morphology).
Caffeine and alcohol, both subjected to previous research and with mixed results for their effects on sperm quality and quantity, had minimal effect on fertility.
The findings highlight the many documented health benefits of eating fish. Oily, coldwater fish like halibut, sardines and – if you’ve read some of my other articles – you’ll know I’m a huge proponent of salmon, preferably wild, because it’s good for the heart and the brain.
And you’ve yet to experience one of the greatest pleasures of life until you’ve tasted wild, fresh chinook salmon, which is also called spring salmon, available at many grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest or, depending on where you live, a Whole Foods.
Ask around. Wild salmon might not be the cheapest fish on the market but it’s one of the healthiest, and as the study results suggest, an excellent way to make a personal sperm bank deposit.
Wireless Devices: WITHDRAWAL
A 2008 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that guys who kept a cell phone in their pocket were at higher risk of lower sperm count and quality. The culprit? Radiofrequency electromagnetic waves – radiation – emitted near the testicles.
The effects were most pronounced at 2.5cm or closer to semen samples for one hour and when the phone was in ‘talk’ mode, during which it emitted 850 MHz of frequency. Building on previous research, the study team found this radiation damaged sperm and cautioned that a cell phone kept in a man’s pocket may have similar effects.
Bear in mind too that the study was conducted in 2008. Smart phones, which have all but replaced the antiquated flip-open in that time, are more powerful and emit higher radiation – typically between 1,800 and 2,200 Mhz. Laptops are even higher, and hotter and with even more potential risk to your swimmers. In a 2011 study, also published in Fertility and Sterility, four hours of laptop exposure on a man’s lap was linked to 25% less sperm movement.
Nine per cent of the sperm were damaged too, a rate three times higher than sperm that was not exposed to radiation in the study.
If there is a silver lining to the study, it’s that risk of sperm damage appears to decrease with greater distance between the device and your testicles. Keep your smart phone out of your pocket – and off your belt – and put it in your day bag instead. Try to limit use of smart phones in favor of a land line if possible. And, of course, keep your laptop off your lap top.
Avoid These Further Sperm Bank Withdrawals
If you’re like most men, you are a sperm factory, producing millions of sperm each day. They’ve got a job to do, and you can help them by avoiding these additional factors that could make additional and unwanted withdrawals from your sperm supply.
Heat – Sperm don’t like heat. Your body is designed to keep your testes cooler than the rest of you. So help a baby-maker out and avoid hot tubs, laptops on your knees or anything else that might raise their temperature.
Fever – Not that you can stay healthy on command, but it’s worth popping your vitamins – a 2003 study found that fever (temporarily) decreased sperm production by 35%.
Boxers or Briefs – An ongoing debate, with recent evidence to suggest it’s not as important as some people make it out to be. Boxers might help if your sperm count is on the low side. Cyclists should note, however that tight bicycle shorts are not ideal for sperm count or quality. And, let’s be honest, spandex on a man just doesn’t go well.
The one exception to the link between exercise and higher sperm count was cycling. Men who rode more than 90 minutes a week had 34% less sperm than guys who didn’t ride.
Obesity – Don’t be the Michelin man in a Speedo, either. In fact, don’t resemble the former at all, because a 2009 study conducted by the World Health Organization found that obese men had lower testicular function and sperm count to match.
Booze, Smoking and Drugs – Keep your hard partying days to yester-year. A 2010 study found that high levels of alcohol reduced sperm count, while cigarettes reduced motility, and weed is linked to both. Granted, the findings of the Boston convention found no adverse effect of alcohol on sperm. But others have, and that’s worth thinking about.
A disclaimer before finishing this article. I’m not your doctor and don’t pretend to be. Only your physician knows enough about your medical history to make specific recommendations regarding male fertility.
Speak with your doctor if you’re trying to get pregnant.
With this being said, the suggestions made here are based on evidence that they work for most guys barring illness or specific health concerns. And a fun way to top up your semen production is with a natural volume enhancer like Semenax.
Like the description implies, a natural volume enhancer is designed to increase semen production. The process is completely natural, and achieved with herbals and amino acids that build up in your system. You’re in good shape when they do, too, because more semen means a longer and more intense orgasm.
Try Semenax if you’re looking to make sex more enjoyable. While the product does not guarantee it will increase sperm count or quality, it is clinically proven to boost volume. The sex will be awesome, at the very least, and with a little luck and discipline, good things may happen.