How common is male infertility?
In three out of every five couples experiencing infertility, a male factor is involved. Male infertility is the primary factor in two out of five of these couples. Moreover, one out of every five couples struggling with fertility has a combination of male and female infertility. Therefore, it is prudent to examine both male and female partners when dealing with this issue.
What lifestyle changes can be made to improve sperm count and quality?
- Quit smoking.
- Stop using recreational drugs.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Avoid using lubricants while trying to conceive.
- Practise moderate aerobic and resistance exercises.
- Avoid high temperatures, that is, saunas and hot tubs.
- Take supplemental vitamins (antioxidants).
What can I do to make my sperm healthy?
- Take multivitamins. A daily intake of multivitamins can help provide selenium, zinc and folic acid - special nutrients that are important for favourable sperm production and function. A multivitamin usually contains antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, which may help prevent sperm damage.
- Lower stress. Researchers are studying the correlation between stress and sperm production. Stress may also harm sexual function.
- Get regular exercise. It is well known that physical activity is good for overall health; moderate physical activity is good for reproductive health as well.
- Weight management. High-quality sperm is produced when a healthy weight is maintained.
I have a low sperm count. Can I do something to improve it?
Keeping your body and mind healthy will boost your fertility, as lack of sleep and stress can affect your hormone levels. Being overweight could also reduce sperm production. Smoking harms sperms and can reduce a man’s sex drive. Foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and certain minerals such as zinc are particularly good, as these increase sperm count and motility (movement).
I am a keen cyclist. I have been told that a hard bicycle seat and Lycra cycling shorts are not good for fertility. Is this true?
Yes, overheated testicles can temporarily lower sperm counts. Regular and prolonged cycling on hard bike seats can also affect the nerves and blood vessels to the genitals, by putting pressure on the perineum. I would advise you to consider a gel seat to cushion this part of the body. It is also best to avoid saunas, hot baths and tight underwear when you are trying to conceive.
The veins around my testicles are swollen; they look like a bag of worms. Will that affect my fertility?
This condition is called a varicocele, and it could affect fertility, as warm blood raises the temperature and reduces sperm production. Often, all you need is a small operation to correct this, which may improve the sperm count and potentially restore natural fertility.