“Any man who wants to have kids now or in the future should be concerned about the health of his sperm’s and take any steps needed to improve sperm quality,” says Darius Paduch, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and urologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. About 30 percent of fertility problems are due to the man. Safeguarding your swimmers today could keep you from getting cozier with a sterile plastic cup than you ever imagined you would be.
1. LOSE WEIGHT.
If you’re overweight or obese, shedding kilos will do more than help you look better Nakked—it will reinvigorate your reproductive mojo. “Excess fat can decrease testosterone levels, which affects your ability to produce sperm,” Dr. Paduch says. Fat in your belly and thighs also increases your body temperature. “The testicles are outside of your body because sperm prefer colder temperatures,” he adds. Too much fire in your loins can decrease total sperms count and motility, and cause DNA damage. “Men who lose weight improve their sperm quality naturally,” he adds.
2. LAY OFF THE SOY.
If you’re trying to conceive, better skip sushi dates for a while. Raw fish is off limits for women during pregnancy while soy products—such as edamame and soy sauce—can affect sperm production. Soy contains phytoestrogens, naturally occurring compounds in plants that mimic the female hormone oestrogen. Your body may respond to higher levels of oestrogen by churning out less testosterone, which is essential for sperm production. In a study of mice, rodents fed a soy-rich diet had 25 percent lower sperm counts and fathered 21 percent fewer pups than those that ate a soy-free diet.
3. POUND THE PAVEMENT.
Men who exercise about 7 hours a week have a 48 percent higher sperms count than guys who break a sweat for less than an hour a week, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. Exercising outdoors has an especially beneficial boost, possibly due to the increased levels of vitamin D you receive from the sun, which may play a role in sperms production. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercise can rein in stress. An Italian study found that men with the highest levels of stress and anxiety had lower sperm concentrations, decreased motility, and a greater likelihood of DNA damage compared to those with lower levels of stress.
4. UPGRADE YOUR EATS.
A major factor that determines whether your sperms sink or swim is the health of your mitochondria—or your cells’ batteries. “Motility depends on the energy level of the sperm, which is determined by the mitochondria,” Dr. Paduch says. Eating a diet high in fat and light in plants can increase the risk of free radical damage, which negatively impacts the mitochondria. A study in the journal Human Reproduction found that men who downed the most fat had 43 percent lower total sperm count compared to those with the lowest fat intake. Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can combat free radicals and improve the quality and quantity of your sperm. In addition, consider taking a supplement containing L-carnitine, an amino acid that’s been shown to boost sperms count and motility, Dr. Paduch says. It’s also found naturally in poultry, fish, dairy products, and avocados.
5. SKIP THE HOT TUB.
You put your time in at the gym, so now you deserve a soak in the steamer, right? Better stay on dry land, especially if you and your partner are trying to conceive. “Research in monkeys shows that just 15 minutes to half an hour in a hot tub renders them completely sterile,” Dr. Paduch says. “An increase of just 2 degrees negatively affects sperm production in humans.” His advice: A quick 10-minute soak is fine, but if you’re trying to have kids in the next 3 to 6 months, you’re better off keeping your dips infrequent and brief—or avoiding them altogether until there’s a bun in the oven.
How much do you know about sperm cells? You know guys make a lot of them—but how many? You know they’re small—but how small? You know sperm’s cells swim their way to an egg cell—but with no brains, how in the heck do they know which way to go?
See, men and women, there’s a lot about sperm you just don’t know. Lucky for you, we’ve found answers to nine big questions about the amazing little wrigglers. Keep reading to up your sperm I.Q…
How many sperm’s cells are released when a guy ejaculates? Sperms counts vary from about 20 million to 100 million sperm cells per milliliter of ejaculate. Healthy guys produce from 1.5 ml to 5 ml of semen each time they ejaculate.
How big are sperm’s cells? From head to tail, human sperms cells measure about 50 micrometers (0.05 millimeter, or roughly 0.002 inch). The tiniest object you can see with your unaided eyes is about 0.1 mm—so forget about seeing sperm without a microscope. A human egg is about 30 times bigger—large enough to be seen with the naked eye.
What are the parts of a sperms-cell? At one time, people believed that sperm cells contained tiny individuals known as homunculi or animalcules. Now we know that sperms contain not little people but DNA. And we know that sperms cells are made of three basic parts: the head (which contains the genetic material), a middle section (packed with mitochondria that provide energy for the tail), and the tail itself (flagellum).
How fast do sperms swim? Sperms cells swim about 0.2 metres per hour, or about 8 inches. That’s a lot faster than it sounds, considering how tiny they are!
How do sperms know where to go? Scientists believe sperms cells find a waiting egg cell via a couple of complex mechanisms. They swim toward higher concentrations of molecules released by the egg (known as chemotaxis) and toward the high-temperature areas of the woman’s reproductive tract, where eggs are found (known as thermotaxis).
Who discovered sperms cells? That would be Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). The amateur Dutch scientist and prolific lensmaker first observed sperm cells in 167. Whose sperm was it? His own. Van Leeuwenhoek was also the first to observe bacteria, muscle fibers, and the flow of blood cells through capillaries. No wonder he’s been called the “father of microbiology.”
How long can sperm’cells live? That depends. Inside a woman’s reproductive tract, a man’s sperms can survive for up to five days. Sperms deposited outside the body might live at most a few hours.
What happens to sperm’cells that don’t get ejaculated? Old sperm-are simply resorbed by the man’s body.
Is it true that sperm counts are declining? That’s hard to say. A widely reported 1992 study showed that sperm counts fell by 50 percent between 1938 and 1990—falling from 113 million sperms per milliliter of seminal fluid to 66 million/ml. But subsequent studies raised questions about the validity of that finding. Some more recent studies suggest there really is a decline, but others suggest that sperms counts have remained stable.