It is currently estimated that 8-12% of couples trying to conceive have had fertility issues, so you are not alone if you are encountering delays. Although much of the clinical literature (and popular culture) points to this being a predominantly female challenge, 40-50% of fertility struggles are actually attributed to sperm function.
While men are significantly underrepresented in discussions about fertility, medical professionals are catching up to the statistics and providing more resources and counseling to men who experience fertility challenges. The majority of these troubles arise from the quality, quantity, and motility of sperm. In this article, we discuss sperm quantity and how to increase it to improve your chances of conception.
What Affects Sperm Count?
Many factors can play a role in how much viable, healthy sperm is produced with each ejaculation. Heat is often to blame, so it’s important to “stay cool”. Try to avoid excessive use of hot tubs, saunas, and jacuzzis. The scrotum exists to avoid this exact situation as it keeps the testes two degrees cooler than the rest of the body. There is some research that suggests carrying your cell phone in your front pocket (in close proximity to where sperm is produced and stored) may have an effect. It is not yet known whether that is because of the heat from the phone, or from radio frequency waves. To be on the safe side, consider carrying your phone in your back pocket.
There’s also the age-old debate: boxers or briefs. There is no data to indicate that either of these choices affect sperm count. However, super constricting underwear (like compression underwear) or skin-tight bike shorts can have an effect because they constrict the scrotum too tightly, thus not allowing it to move up and down.
There are many lifestyle choices that can also be keeping your sperm count low, but there are things you can do to keep sperm production rolling.
How to Improve Sperm Count
As with many things in life, a healthy diet can help improve sperm count. Be sure you’re getting enough antioxidants and vitamin C. In one research study, sperm count improved significantly after 2 months of vitamin C supplements. Vitamin D is also important to consume since it has been shown to increase testosterone levels, thereby improving all characteristics of sperm. Make sure to limit fried foods or those high in saturated fats as they can alter the volume of sperm in one emission.
Regular exercise is also a factor in increasing the quantity and health of your sperm. Not only does it reduce stress (which can cause a hormonal imbalance that affects sperm count), but it boosts your testosterone levels as well. Exercise also increases confidence and stamina; both come in handy when attempting to have sex (which also tends to improve sperm count).
Avoiding things like cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs can also help. There are several prescription drugs to avoid as well. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional if you believe any medications you are taking could be affecting your fertility.
When to Seek Help
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for more than a year, then it may be time to consult a fertility specialist. If you feel that you have made many of the lifestyle changes we discussed, to no avail, there are a host of treatments available to you when working with a fertility clinic. Experts in the field will help determine a diagnosis and get you onto a treatment plan to reach your goal of starting a family. Our team of experts are ready to help.