What you need to know:
- The stigma around male infertility is reducing and men are more willing to get tested and treated.
- Not all male infertility issues are related to their lifestyle.
If you have a healthy reproductive system, take care of it by living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding substances that could damage it.
Infertility is a sensitive issue for both men and women.
In men, low sperm count and low sperm quality are the main indicators of infertility. These two can be affected by how you treat your body, the things you consume, and your day-to-day activities.
If you intend to keep producing quality sperms and have a high sperm count, you need to avoid the following:
- Intake of tobacco by smoking or any other means
The toxic chemicals inhaled through the lungs eventually find their way to the testicles and can reduce sperm count by almost 20 percent.
Other than the reduction in sperm count, the sperm produced is also of low quality, mobility, and morphology. Tobacco can also cause damage at the DNA level leading to unnaturally high levels of sperm cell apoptosis (death).
Due to the impact of tobacco at a genetic level, smoking can cause defects in the offspring.
Ingesting tobacco through other means has the same effect.
Studies have also revealed the presence of cannabinoid receptors on sperm cells. The receptors allow the cells to interact with cannabis which disrupts sperm production, quality, and function.
Except for long-term smokers, you can recover to optimum sperm production in a few years after abstaining from tobacco or marijuana.
- Excessive alcohol intake
Heavy drinking is described as more than 15 drinks per week or more than five drinks in a night.
Heavy drinking affects the entire male reproductive system right from hormone production to sperm motility during fertilisation. Alcohol also interferes with the secretion of the main male sex hormone, testosterone, and minor ones like FSH, and luteinising hormones. On the other hand, it causes increased production of oestrogen thus messing the natural balance between the hormone and testosterone.
Over time, the disruption in the normal hormone production process causes the production of few sperms of low quality. The impact of alcohol on sperm production is quite significant and may even be observed through the reduction of testes size.
Excessive intake of alcohol is usually caused by other factors including dependency and addiction. As you work to reverse the damage of alcohol on your fertility, you first need to address the issue of alcoholism.
- Too much coffee… sometimes
Lab studies on the effect of coffee on sperm quality found that coffee increases sperm motility, without any negative effect on the quality or quantity of sperm produced. The sperms were also active for much longer than in control setups. This is a positive result and shows coffee is a good substance for male fertility.
However, other studies have produced results that show drinking coffee frequently may have a negative effect on male fertility. This has mainly been observed in men who take more than five cups of coffee in a day.
One of the most widely accepted explanations for the discrepancy is that the negative effects of drinking coffee may be due to sugar. In the lab set-up, the coffee did not have sugar. If you take 5 cups of coffee in a day (with sugar), that could easily add up to more than ten teaspoonfuls of sugar.
If you are a fan of coffee and worried about your fertility, you may want to limit the quantity you drink and the sugar you add.
- Too much heat on your genital area
Something as negligible as your choice of underwear can affect sperm count and concentration. People who wear tight cotton underwear regularly have been observed to have a lower sperm count than those who wear more loose boxers.
For a healthy person, the decline is negligible and may not lead to infertility. But if you already have a low sperm count, this could be the difference between being able to sire children and shooting blanks.
Any other activity that exposes your groin to extra heat has the same adverse effect. Holding your laptop on the laps is probably the most common culprit among modern men.
- Sedentary lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle can easily lead to obesity and overweight. Obesity has been linked to various illnesses including diabetes and hypertension. And now it is also linked to a low sperm count as men whose weight was higher-than-healthy were observed to produce lower sperm count and sometimes none at all.
Conversely, a healthy lifestyle and diet have been shown to improve not only the quantity but also the quality of sperms.