How to increase your sperm count and keep it up: lots of great sex, cold baths and garlic
As we celebrate Father’s Day, here’s a timely look at how to protect that crucial asset that helps turn men into dads: their sperm.
And a friendly reminder that an enjoyable way to start the day – great sex – isn’t just great for heart health. Studies underscore the importance of regular sex for sperm health, too.
All kinds of factors play a role in sperm health, from the environment a man lives in, to what he eats, and even his mental health.
New research from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston suggests that abuse or neglect in childhood might have an effect on the quality of a man’s sperm.
The study, based on the degree to which men had been exposed to physical, verbal or sexual abuse, or emotional neglect, analysed semen – the liquid that transports sperm – to assess key gene regulators found in sperm “miRNAs”; levels were 300 times lower among men who experienced early life abuse.
While the study was small, fertility specialists agree that there has been a steady decline in sperm quality over the past 20 years, which could be partly explained by a stressful contemporary lifestyle and partly by stress in childhood.
Infertility is a widespread problem and while we frequently focus on compromised female ability to reproduce, which accounts for a third of cases, a third is caused by male fertility issues – and a third by both. It is estimated that one in 20 men has some kind of fertility problem.
Found in about 40 per cent of men with infertility problems, this can be surgically treated, says Dr Ernest Ng, clinical professor at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Hong Kong.
Male infertility can be caused by complications that need medical intervention – varicoceles, tumours, infections, hormone imbalances, and physical defects such as undescended testes and blocked tubes, Ng says.
Sometimes, medical intervention itself, such as radiation treatment for cancer, X-rays and certain medications, may trigger problems. But there are a host of other factors that impact male fertility that can be addressed much more easily, and by the men themselves.
The testicles need to maintain a temperature about two degrees Celsius cooler than core body temperature. “This is the reason the testicles are located outside the body in the scrotum rather than in the abdomen like the ovaries,” says Ardyce Yik, a naturopathic doctor.
It explains why, when it’s hot, the scrotum relaxes and the testicles settle lower, and, when it’s cold, as all men know, they rise up and sit closer to the body.