Here’s an odd pairing for you: what do your sperm and National Lampoon’s Vacation, that cult hit from way back in 1983 have in common?
Never seen it? I’ll summarize it for you. An all-American family from Chicago, quarterbacked by determined, yet dim-witted Chevy Chase (sorry Clark, love ya man) drives across the western United States with their intended destination of Walley World – a knock-off for Disneyland, where good old Dad swears his family will have a rewarding vacation that will bring them together.
Well, it wouldn’t be a comedy if things didn’t go crazy stupid along the way now, would it? And the Griswolds’ journey was, as you’d imagine, tumultuous, hair-raising, completely off course and, in hindsight, hilarious.
Now how does this relate to your swimmers?
There are several parallels, actually. First, only healthy sperm make it to and fertilize the egg that develops into a fetus. If your sperm resembles a clunky old station wagon, that doesn’t qualify as healthy.
Second, your swimmers, just like Clark and the Griswolds, have a heck of a journey a head of them.
What Are Healthy Sperm?
Out of the estimated 20 million sperm per millimeter within a normal guy’s semen, statistically, less than forty make it to their intended destination. Only one will successfully penetrate and fertilize the egg.
In other words, it’s much, much better for your sperm to resemble that striking red Ferrari 308 driven by bombshell Christy Brinkley than the oddly shaped, awkward Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon that carries the Griswolds in the film. And though the station wagon ultimately made the journey, albeit with some dents and painted-on panels, it ain’t like that in the process of conception.
Healthy sperm are abundant. They’re got a large head and a long tail to propel them. That’s a good thing, because with healthy sperm, motility – that’s sperm’s ability to move in a straight line, towards the egg – is also important.
And about that journey. From the vagina, through the fallopian tubes, from the ovaries to the uterus, it’s a difficult one that kills all but the most resilient of swimmers.
Indeed, when it comes to sperm, it’s much better to be a Ferrari than it is to be a station wagon!
Fortunately, most of what you need to transform your swimmers from sloth to super-stud is well within your control. And it starts with something you’ve heard many times…
Smoking is Bad
Need another reason to swear off this nasty habit? Aside from what smoking does for your looks, it’s also terrible for your sperm. Now researchers know why.
Human sperm cells carry two potent proteins, called protamine 1 and protamine 2. In healthy sperm, these proteins are balanced. But the researchers found that smokers had a shortage of protamine 2. These sperm were missing one to two letters of the DNA alphabet and were susceptible to damage through a process called oxidation.
Ever heard of free radicals? They do more than cause wrinkles – they make things really personal in smokers and damage your seed, making it much less likely of a successful conception. Even if an egg is successfully fertilized, miscarriages are common among women with smoking partners.
Second-hand smoke is just as bad, by the way, and often worse, so even if your partner is a non-smoker, it’s quite likely that conception will be more difficult.
Bottom line? Smoking is really bad for sperm. Men with aspirations of fatherhood should ditch the cigarettes (or marijuana if you’re into toking) for at least three months prior to conception, and women for the entire duration of pregnancy. Do it for the new life you want to bring into this world.
And ideally, if you’ve got the willpower, you’ll take a stand and lose this disgusting habit altogether.
Walnuts Are Good
When it comes to sperm and your shots and conception, smoking is bad and walnuts are good.
Though they take a little heat for their high fat content, it’s primarily the healthy variety, especially mono- and polyunsaturated. And in walnuts, the health benefits just keep on comin’, with evidence they can lower bad cholesterol, fight free radicals and potentially even fight cancer.
But it’s the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts that should be of particular interest to guys with dreams of fatherhood, as a new study documents that eating 2.5 ounces of walnuts each day improved sperm quality in young men.
In the study, of 117 men between 21 and 35, half of the participants added walnuts to their regular diet, whether whole, blended or crushed and added or integrated them into recipes including meatloaf, spaghetti and hamburgers. The remaining men continued with their regular diet, with the notable instructions not to consume any walnuts throughout the study.
The researchers were unaware which men had eaten walnuts on the study’s conclusion, when they analyzed semen samples from each participant. Density, vitality, motility and size and shape, along with any chromosome abnormalities were all factors in determining whether the semen was premium grade or if it flunked the quality test.
Their findings? Sperm quality improved only among the walnut eaters. And the men with the worst semen samples at the start of the study saw the biggest improvement when the study finished.
The study builds on previous research which shows a definitive link between omega-3 fatty acids – often with fish or fish supplements – with normal sperm size and shape. High intake of saturated fats, conversely, are linked to lower quality sperm.
More research is needed, of course, and it should be noted that the study was in part funded by the California Walnut Commission.
But it’s an intriguing link, between walnuts and sperm health, that adds weight to the connection between omega-3 fatty acids and health of your seed. And if you’re trying for a new one, it couldn’t hurt to sprinkle some walnuts among your wings and gazpacho.
Other Factors For Healthy Sperm
Think of your swimmers as really tiny versions of you. Treat’em right and they’ll reward you in favor. Drown them in unhealthy habits and they start looking sickly.
Only the strong survive when it comes to your swimmers. You can help them, and your chances of fatherhood, with these sperm-friendly tips to keep them vibrant and plentiful:
Boxers or Briefs? – An age old question, with many in the former camp citing that briefs are to hot and constrictive to let your testes pump out enough of the good stuff. There’s some evidence, however, that this is a myth, and that briefs may not be so damaging after all.
Where ever you plant your flag, boxers are certainly more loose than briefs. Some guys go with boxers just for peace of mind, but it’s really your call.
Studies show that your body absorbs 15% less radiation for each millimeter between you and your cell phone, and vice versa.
Stay Out of Hot Tubs – Frankly, this is much more of a threat to sperm than your favored type of undergarment. Heat kills sperm, and the kind you’re exposed to in a hot tub or sauna is the kind that hurts your swimmers. Stay out of hot tubs while you’re keen on conception.
Be Wary of Cell Phones and Laptops – There’s a disturbing link between cellphones and decreased sperm count. Studies show that a cell phone kept in your pant pocket can reduce your quality, quantity and their ability to interact with each other. Smart phones are even worse. And laptops may be the worst offenders of all.
While research is ongoing, further studies show that your body absorbs 15% less radiation for each millimeter between you and your cell phone, and vice versa. Keep your cell phone out of your pant pockets, away from you-know-where and your laptop off your laptop.
Easy on the Alcohol – Beer and hot tubs go together like Ren and Stimpy, but neither help your sperm count, and alcohol is linked to deformed swimmers.
Watch Your Weight – Put that Krispy Kreme down too there, friend. Obese men are more likely to have a low sperm count than guys that don’t tip the scale. Aim for a body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 23.
Moderate Your Exercise – You may also want to skip the Boston Marathon ’til after your happy arrival, as intense exercise can reduce your testosterone levels and take your sperm production down with them. Easy does it, and don’t even think about taking steroids.
Avoid Toxins – More killers of sperm. Pesticides, industrial chemicals, lead and other toxins can all increase risk of infertility. Landscapers, contractors and guys who work in manufacturing are at the highest risk.
Apples consistently score among the worst offenders of fruits laden with pesticides, by the way, so go organic if you can afford to, and wash the heck out of them if you can’t.
Take Your Vitamins – Zinc and vitamin C are essential to healthy & abundant swimmers, with vitamin E and its free radical fighting properties not so far behind. Get them in your diet or with vitamins. Or try a supplement like Semenax, which can help you increase ejaculate naturally.
Eat a Sperm-Friendly Diet – Put walnuts on your plate. Now add oysters, bananas and garlic, along with a few others and you’ve got the makings of a diet to boost sperm.
One more thing. If you’re trying to conceive, you might both benefit if she uses a female lubricant. Avoid drugstore purchased lubes like Astroglide and K-Y Jelly, both of which may inhibit sperm activity. Try an all-natural lubricant instead, or even make one of your own with canola oil, which shouldn’t hinder your swimmers as they make their journey.
Healthy swimmers are more likely to conceive than the sperm that get killed, banged up, distorted and otherwise abused by many of the lifestyle factors so typical of the lives we lead. Cell phones are bad. Smoking’s really bad. Briefs are questionable and walnuts get a major thumbs up.
True to form, it’s not easy to stay healthy and avoid all toxins, stay lean and avoid the hot tub on a sexy August evening. But it’s worthwhile when you consider your objective: to create new life. Keep that in mind and the rest will fall in place.
So step up. Make the whatever adjustments that need to be made. They’re short-term sacrifices for a long-term cause. This isn’t Walley World, it’s a baby you’re after. The station wagon doesn’t cut it, but the Ferrari might. You’ll get there faster and even with some style.