Men today produce fewer sperm than in the past, and the sperm are less healthy. Several studies have been conducted on both sperm count and total motile sperm count and all results indicate a downward trend.
The WHO ( World health organisation) estimates suggest that nearly 72.4 million couples globally experience fertility problems and of all infertility cases, approximately 40–50% is due to “male factor” infertility.
The question, then, is what could be causing this decline in fertility?
Potential causes include obesity, diet, chronic disease, tobacco, marijuana, and environmental toxins, with the modern lifestyle thought to be contributing to the declining trend.
According to WHO statistics, the worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. Given recent studies , there is increasing evidence that obesity may affect sperm parameters through a variety of methods such as an increased inflammatory state and oxidative stress.
The majority of tobacco products contain over 4000 different chemicals and constituents. Many of these, including as nicotine and heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, have been individually linked to impaired sperm parameters, as has tobacco smoke in general. Studies have shown that smoking can decrease sperm counts and effect assisted fertility treatments such as IVF.
A study of men who had sperm analysed at a fertility clinic showed that men who ate higher amounts of fruits and veggies, particularly green leafy vegetables and beans (legumes), had higher sperm concentrations and better sperm motility compared to men who ate less of these foods.
A recent study showed that sperm are influenced by diet, and the effects arise rapidly. This is the conclusion of the study, in which healthy young men were fed a diet rich in sugar. The study, which has been published in PLOS Biology, gives new insight into the function of sperm.
There are several environmental factors affecting semen quality including air pollution, use of pesticides and harmful chemicals and exposure to excessive heat.
A lot of this research on environmental factors focuses on endocrine disrupters molecules that mimic the body’s hormones and throw off the balance for reproduction .
These include substances like phthalates—better known as plasticisers—as well as pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, toxic gases, and other synthetic materials.
Plasticisers are found in most plastics—like water bottles and food containers—and exposure is associated with negative impact on semen health.
Herbicides and pesticides are found in the food supply, and some are known to negatively affect fertility.
Studies show that radiation exposure from laptops, cellphones, and modems have also been associated with declining sperm counts.
Ways to boost male fertility
Studies on smoking and semen quality found that smoking affects many aspects of sperm health, including decreased sperm counts, decreased sperm motility , so stopping is the best way to reverse this.
If you are overweight, lose weight. Eating a healthy diet and participating in exercise will give you a good chance of improving sperm count and quality.
Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a sensible weight is always a good idea but there are certain foods that can be beneficial when trying to improve sperm.
- Green vegetables - green vegetables are full of folates. In one study, men taking a daily dose increased their sperm count by as much as 70%. Kale for example is also an excellent source of vitamin A, and is also one of the best plant-based sources of calcium, which is important for fertility because calcium plays a role in egg maturation and follicular development.
- Berries - are full of antioxidants that fight free radicals in the blood stream. Unchecked, they can destroy semen and significantly decrease your sperm count.
- Zinc Rich Foods : Foods rich in zinc include barley, red meat, beans, etc. Zinc plays a vital role in sperm development. The mineral is found in high concentrations in testicles during the production of healthy, strong semen. So important is zinc, deficiencies of the mineral has been blamed for low sperm motility.
- Nuts are full of omega- 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, selenium and other compounds that improve sperm quality.
Keep it cool down there!
Avoid hot tubs or taking long hot baths.
Sitting for long periods of time results in increased scrotal temperatures, according to research. If you have a desk job, or have to commute a long distance to work, make sure you get up and walk around regularly.
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