A study recently reported that sperm counts have dropped 50 percent in the last 40 years. That’s a significant decrease. The head of the study, Hagai Levine, called it an "urgent wake-up call" for researchers and authorities to investigate this drop to protect male reproductive health. Unfortunately, if you're trying to have a baby right now, no amount of urgency in the scientific community will make much of a difference.
So if you're concerned about your or your partner’s sperm count, have it checked so you know exactly where you are. In simple terms: The more sperm in semen, the higher chance that a single sperm will reach and implant itself into an egg. The health of the sperm is also a factor in the ability to reproduce, and a semen analysis conducted at a laboratory is the most accurate method to determine this. According to the American Pregnancy Association, male fertility is a factor in approximately 50% of pregnancy struggles, but let’s not dwell on the statistics, and instead let’s try for positive change. Here are 10 tips to avoid low sperm count:
1. Get to a healthy weight.
Slimming your waistline has positive effects on your health in general, and it’s also one the most significant shifts you can make to increase your sperm count. Losing weight can significantly increase semen volume, concentration, and mobility, as well as the overall health of sperm. Talk to your doctor or seek the counsel of a nutritionist to arrive at a plan that works with your lifestyle. Most experts recommend avoiding drastic diet and exercise changes and instead implementing incremental adjustments to encourage long-term success.
Getting moving more often has a positive effect on your sperm count, and one study found that weightlifting and outdoor exercise are the most beneficial for promoting more and higher-quality sperm. As with dieting, if you haven’t been active regularly, ease into a program that suits you. This is also an excellent opportunity to work out with your partner. Going for brisk walks or running can also double as time spent to boost the quality of your relationship. Plus, you’ll both feel better and want to have sex more often, which, of course, also increases the probability of conceiving.
3. Take your vitamins.
Vitamins D, C, E, and CoQ10 are important for sperm health. One study shows that taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C every day can help men’s sperm concentration and mobility. Who doesn’t want their sperm to be as agile as possible for that important journey? Vitamin deficiencies can affect you in other detrimental ways. A simple blood test can help you detect your vitamin intake level. Take some time to get assessed as it’s an easy fix to add supplements to your daily routine. Check with your doctor for expert advice.
4. Avoid substance abuse.
If you want to have a baby, it's important to avoid drinking, cigarettes, and drugs. Besides, now that you're planning to become a parent, it’s a good time to shift your mental outlook and discover the rewards of being present in the moment. Low sperm count has been linked to heavy drinking (two or more drinks per day), tobacco use, and illegal drug use. If you need help quitting, seek help from a professional. Exercising and eating right are also beneficial to staying sober, and all these life shifts work synergistically.
5. Check your environment.
Oftentimes, people don’t really think too much about their surroundings and how it correlates to sperm count. Watch out if you are regularly exposed to:
- paint strippers
- non-water-based glues or paints
- other endocrine disrupters
Whether it’s your workplace or you like to restore vintage Ford Broncos, be aware of what substances you are exposed to. Consider taking a break from high-risk activities and reducing your exposure to toxins in general.
6. Have your bike checked.
Even if you aren’t a contender to win a stage at the Tour de France, five hours per week of bicycling is associated with lower sperm concentration. You don’t have to give up cycling entirely, as it’s an excellent form of exercise, but it might be wise to cut back on your total time spent in the saddle or add more cross training to your routine and try running or yoga. Some time spent off the bike might even make you a better cyclist in the long-term. If you can’t stay off your bicycle, consider switching to a seat that protects your perineal area, and get active when climbing hills and stand and pedal instead of sitting.
7. Wear loose, cotton boxers.
Looking for an excuse to buy some new underwear? Here it is. Looser underwear helps keep the temperature down there at a level that allows the right environment for healthy sperm.
8. Manage stress.
Many people say they were able to conceive during a vacation, and this is likely because removing or reducing stress has a major impact on our physical health. Psychological stress is harmful to sperm and semen quality, affecting its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize an egg. It’s essential to manage stress by exercising or making time for relaxing activities. Plus, less stress normally means more sex.
9. Cut down on caffeine.
Too much caffeine can have an adverse effect on male fertility. A study concluded that for men drinking fewer than three cups of coffee a day there shouldn’t be a negative effect on the time it takes them to conceive with a partner, but more than four a day was associated with a higher proportion of abnormally shaped sperm. So just be sure to limit your caffeine intake; splurge on higher-quality coffee and tea for maximum enjoyment and minimum risk to your sperm health.
10. Eat more folic acid.
Adding more folic acid to your diet is also good for men who want to have a child, according to one study. Folic acid, commonly found in leafy greens, can improve the health of your sperm. You can also get more folic acid from pills and multivitamins.