The average sperm count yields between 20 and 40 million swimmers per milliliter. That mirrors a general consensus that sperm production has wavered over the past several decades. Yet a new study released this week suggests still another reason why you should watch your swimmers: sperm defects are linked to a shorter life.
That should come as no surprise to those in the health community. Obesity is at a stubborn 34% and climbing each year – a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes among other things. Evidence links excess weight to reduced fertility, a connection further strengthened with another finding this week, that high cholesterol might delay parenthood.
But the study is good fodder for both guys who want to live longer and those who want to leave a legacy. Sperm are little versions of you, after all, and they’ll let you know when they’re being mistreated.
While it doesn’t prove a cause and effect relatonship, the study suggests that men rendered infertile with sperm abnormalities are more likely to die early than men with few defects. This conclusion after researchers reviewed medical records for about 12,000 guys over eight years, with results published in the May 16 online issue of Human Reproduction.
The researchers suggest these findings illustrate why doctors should advise patients to adopt healthy lifestyle tips – both for their swimmers and that other thing called health.
In the study, researchers accessed medical records for each participant after each man had visited either Stanford University School of Medicine or Baylor College of Medicine to be evaluated for infertility. They noted each patient’s semen quality, including total semen volume, sperm counts, sperm movements and shapes.
The researchers compared this information with records to track death rates among the men, while accounting for underlying health issues that could affect semen quality.
Guys with two or more sperm defects had 2.3 times the risk of death during the study than guys with normal sperm. The more abnormalities any man had, the greater his chance he’d meet his maker sooner than expected.
No one semen abnormality predicted an early demise. However, guys with two or more sperm defects had 2.3 times the risk of death during the study than guys with normal sperm. The more abnormalities any man had, the greater his chance he’d meet his maker sooner than expected.
The findings highlight the urgency to look at the causes of infertility in men rather than looking into assisted reproductive technologies, say the researchers. In particular, guys would do well to identify and fix what they can. Reproduction is an essentially human activity, after all, with 10-15% of the male genome stepping forward to ensure our species marches forward at any given time.
If you’d like to be among them, but can’t make healthy sperm, that might be reason to pop the hood and look closer at other health issues that should be addressed.
Note too that low testosterone can lead to sperm defects. And with testosterone being linked to longevity, it’s all the more reason to speak to your doctor about sperm abnormalities and identify what factors are within your control.
Sperm like healthy living habits. The vices are out. Regular exercise is in – as in an hour a day – which was linked in a recent study to 48% more sperm than that seen in couch potatoes.
The opposite holds true as well. A British study found that men who watched 20 hours of TV each week had 44% fewer swimmers than guys who spent less time in front of their flatscreen. Whether they watched TV or perched in front of a computer didn’t matter. Activity is good for sperm health and production. The sedentary lifestyle is not.
Consider this list from AskMen of ways to boost sperm and keep them sharp:
Take Supplements, Not Drugs – Weed and other recreational drugs are not good for sperm. Try a supplements for semen instead – especially if it has amino acids l-carnitine, l-arginine and folic acid. Antioxidant vitamin E and selenium are good too. Many guys find that Semenax is good here, and as a bonus, your climax will be amazing.
Do Kegels – Exercise in general is good for sperm. Kegels might not help production, but many guys find they make it easier to shoot further. The porn star within will like that.
Avoid Alcohol – Alcohol does not help sperm, in no small part because it affects liver function, which spikes estrogen and lowers testosterone. Even two drinks a day can affect long-term sperm production. So keep it at one daily, or better yet, abstain from the stuff if you’d like to conceive.
Have More Sex and Less Self-Pleasuring – You’ll hear different takes on this. Some claim that masturbation lowers sperm quality and your chances of conception with it. Others claim it’s not true and that masturbation might even help sperm because it clears out abnormal swimmers and forces the body to make more. This is your call, but it can’t hurt to spend less time on yourself and more time with her.
Eat a Sperm-Friendly Diet – We’ll talk about specific foods that help sperm in a few moments, but it’s worth mentioning here that diet affects your swimmers and their condition. Avoid bacon and processed meats, both linked to ‘significantly’ less normal sperm in a Harvard study. Replace them with a low fat, high protein diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Avoid Heat – There’s a reason your testicles hang away from the rest of you. The body wants them to stay cool, which is made more difficult with tight pants and underwear, saunas and hot tubs. Wear loose-fitting boxers and stay out of the jacuzzi, at least for the short-term. Sleep naked if possible to keep your swimmers at their preferrred temperature.
Don’t Smoke – Come on dude, this just ain’t good for ya! Studies link smokers to 22% less sperm than guys who don’t smoke. And those swimmers have less of a protein called protamine 2, which makes them much more susceptible to DNA damage.
You might be discouraged at the thought of giving up your bacon-laden morning breakfast. Don’t be – swap them for the stronger-sperm diet, courtesy of Men’s Health, and you’ll find your sperm are healthy and plentiful. That’s good, because you’ll have more semen to expel when you ejaculate. A longer orgasm? Who needs bacon!
Vitamin C in particular seems to help sperm, as noted with a study linking guys who took in more of this vitamin to 20% less sperm damage than men of the same age who consumed less of it.
You’ll find these sperm-friendly foods have several things in common. They’re all high in antioxidants and micronutrients like vitamin C, E, folate and zinc. Vitamin C in particular seems to help sperm, as noted with a study linking guys who took in more of this vitamin to 20% less sperm damage than men of the same age who consumed less of it.
Even if you’re an older guy, the sperm-friendly diet can help your swimmers pass muster. The study, which is published in Fertility and Sterility found that guys 40+ could eat their way to healthier semen. You might do that with the foods listed here:
Fatty Fish – I’d put wild salmon among the healthiest foods on the planet. Turns out sperm like them too. A study published in Human Reproduction found that guys who ate salmon and related omega 3-rich fish like mackeral and sardines had higher quality semen than guys who didn’t get fishy. While that might be a coincidence, evidence also links them to higher dopamine levels in the brain, which helps arousal.
Walnuts – Add a few nuts to your plate as well. A 2012 study suggests that guys who ate just 75 grams of walnuts each day for three months had improvements to shape, movement and resilience of their swimmers. Credit the alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid (there’s that word again) in walnuts, say the researchers, which appears to give sperm better health and motility.
Oysters – Ugly food, sexy results. Oysters burst with sperm-friendly zinc, linked to a whopping 74% increase in normal sperm count after 26 weeks compared to guys who took a placebo. Six oysters a day should do the trick, banning allergies to shellfish or other specific health concerns. Note you might also get the sperm-enhancing benefits of zinc from shrimp, pumpkin seeds, eggs, poultry and pork.