There are a number of ways that men can improve the quality of their sperm to help achieve a successful pregnancy with their partner. The life cycle of sperm is only 90 days so many men can improve the quality of their sperm within just a few months. Use our Male Fertility Predictor now for an indication of your sperm quality.
Tips to improve sperm quality
Keep your boys cool
Too many saunas, working in high temperature environments (e.g. welder, boiler-maker), or sitting in cramped conditions for hours on end (e.g. truck drivers) can affect your sperm count. There is no evidence, however, that boxers are better for your sperm count than briefs.
Aim to have a healthy BMI (body mass index)
Being overweight can be associated with a low sperm count and impotence, possibly because of higher temperatures caused by excess fat near the testes. Try to maintain (or achieve) your ideal weight. Use the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator in our Male Fertility Check tool (above) to ensure you have an appropriate body weight.
Eat the ‘right’ foods
Maintaining a healthy diet can help boost fertility. Try to include more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes into your diet. Eat lots of foods high in antioxidants (carotenes, vitamins A, C, E and selenium) such as green leafy vegetables, kale, carrots, citrus, broccoli, cauliflower and yams. It is suggested that you avoid refined carbohydrates, alcohol and foods with artificial additives.
Regular exercise can be a great way of relieving stress and anxiety, which can affect the quality of your sperm. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, especially when combined with a nutritious diet. Excessive amounts of exercise (marathon running and associated training) can lead to lowered sperm count in men. We suggest you aim for a minimum of 3 work-out sessions per week for around 45 minutes each time.
Using steroids to build muscle for strength or sheer sex appeal may have an adverse effect on sperm production, the quality of your sperm, and your general health. You should stop taking them if you plan to be a father in the future.
Say no to drugs
If you frequently smoke marijuana it can negatively affect your fertility. Marijuana contains several chemicals known to have an impact on human physiology, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Studies have found that regular smokers have significantly less seminal fluid, and a lower sperm count. It is also believed that THC may disrupt the way sperm swim, or it may block mechanisms designed to ‘weed out’ malfunctioning sperm. Other recreational drugs, including tobacco, have also been proven to affect male fertility.
Common myths about sperm
- Wearing lycra, tight jeans or jocks is not proven to have a negative impact on your sperm production.
- Being hit in the groin during sports, while painful, can only really have an impact on your fertility if it’s severe.
- Diet, vitamins and supplements actually have very little impact on your sperm count but an acute viral illness, trauma, or a childhood operation for undescended testes or hernias of the groin can.
- Just because you’ve had children before, this doesn’t mean you’ve always got good swimmers! The quality of your sperm may have changed since.
What's involved in a semen analysis?
Semen analysis is the first step and the most important male fertility test. It’s relatively cheap and simple and can tell us a lot about your fertility. Every week in Queensland over 100 men play their part and have their sperm tested.
Below you'll see a comprehensive list of the steps involved in getting a semen analysis. But you should know upfront that it's as simple as this:
- Masturbate into a container – you can even do it at home
- You or your partner drops the sample off at our clinic
What could be easier? Below is the step-by-step guide....
Step 1: Get a test request form
If you are a patient with us, your fertility specialist will provide a request form – or you can ask your GP to refer you for a semen analysis.
Step 2: Produce a semen sample
You will be required to produce a semen sample by masturbation, after at least three days abstinence from sexual activity. You should collect the entire ejaculated amount in a clean, dry container (provided by your Fertility Specialist or GP) and you or your partner needs to bring it to us within one hour.
If you prefer, you can produce the sample in a private room at one of our clinics.
Step 3: Semen analysis in a laboratory
Our Andrology scientists then assess the semen. They analyse and measure the number of sperm, their ability to move, their size and shape, and the volume and consistency of the ejaculated sample.
A normal sperm count is at least 15 million sperm per ml, with at least half showing good forward motility. If they find abnormalities, they usually do more tests to identify the nature and degree of any problems.
Step 4: Explanation of your results
Your Specialist or GP will then explain your test results to you. The good news is that sperm have a lifecycle of 72 days, so even if your results indicate that there may be problems with your sperm, you may be able to improve this with diet and lifestyle changes.
Most common causes of male infertility are easily diagnosed and can be treated or overcome to help a couple conceive.
Which medical conditions can affect male fertility?
Some men may have an inherited condition (like Cystic Fibrosis), that affects their fertility while others may have hormonal imbalances or an obstructed pathway.
Male reproductive health is also affected by age. After the age of 40, a greater number of DNA abnormalities occur in sperm.
Interesting sperm facts
- Testicles function best at 35 degrees which is why they sit just outside the human body
- A typical man produces 50 million sperm per ejaculation, but with the help of advanced reproductive technologies such as ICSI, you need only one to fertilise the egg
- The journey the sperm takes to the egg, once it’s arrived in the womb, is the equivalent of a man swimming 6km