The state of your sperm’s health depends on various factors, including: QUANTITY - if in a single ejaculation you produce more than 15 million sperm per millilitre; QUALITY - if you have more sperm with normal shape and structure, meaning they have oval heads and long tails which work together to propel them forward; and MOVEMENT (or motility) – if more that 40 percent of your sperm are moving, wriggling and swimming through a woman’s cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes to reach and penetrate an egg.
The lifestyle you choose affect sperm health and consequently your fertility. If you are still young, meaning those who are in the reproductive age group, you can take simple steps to increase your chances of producing health sperm. How? Practice safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea – the leading cause of infertility for both men and women. Stay in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected or use a condom each time you have sex.
Eat healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. Choose plenty of fruits and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants that will help improve sperm health. On the other hand, some research suggests that being obese and overweight negatively affects sperm quality, reducing both sperm count and movement.
Don't smoke, don’t use illegal drugs and don’t drink alcohol or keep alcohol consumption within recommended limits. Tobacco, drugs and excessive use of alcohol damage the sperm making it incapable of fertilizing the woman’s egg cell, and if it does, the rate of miscarriage is high.
Include physical activity or exercise in your daily routine to have stronger hormone signals and healthier sperm production. On the other hand, stress can decrease sexual function and interfere with the hormones needed to produce sperm. So, it is also important to manage stress.
Stay cool. Increased scrotal temperature can hamper sperm production. To protect your fertility, don't wear tight underwear or athletic shorts. If you bike or remain seated for long periods of time, take frequent breaks. Don't place a laptop computer directly on your lap. Avoid hot tubs, saunas and steamy baths.
Aside from these lifestyle factors, watch out for toxins also. Exposure to pesticides, lead and other toxins can affect sperm quantity and quality. If you must work with toxins, do so safely. For example, wear protective clothing and equipment, and avoid skin contact with chemicals. And, be cautious with medications. Calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-androgens and various other medications can contribute to fertility issues. Anabolic steroids can have the same effect. Chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment for cancer can cause permanent infertility. If you're considering medications, ask your doctor about the impact on your fertility.
Finally, there is aging and you cannot do anything about it. Women are not the only ones who have biological clocks. Sperm movement and the number of healthy sperm might decline after age 50, affecting a man's fertility. Some research suggests that women who become pregnant by older men have a slightly higher risk of miscarriage. A father's increasing age has also been associated with a higher risk of both autism and schizophrenia in children.