Trying to conceive? Women's fertility is only part of the equation. It takes two to tango, after all. Here are 8 ways men can help boost their sperm count.
You have decided that you want to have a baby, and now your first steps are determining ‘how’, other than the obvious! Women’s fertility is only part of the equation. It takes two to tango after all, and therefore men need to be aware of how they can boost their fertility too.
In light of International Men’s Health Week (June 15-21), here are 8 ways men can boost their sperm count.
1. Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium and selenium is essential for normal sperm production, with the highest concentration being found in the testes. Men only require around two Brazil nuts per day to achieve their daily intake, or 100- 200 mcg/day if taken in supplement form. Semen is high in selenium and needs to be replenished regularly as a deficiency can cause fragile sperm with easily broken tails.
Brazil nuts also contain natural cholesterol, which gets converted into testosterone. They are also high in antioxidants, which protect testosterone molecules from oxidation.
One of the most powerful antioxidants, Ubiquinol is found naturally in the body, however it has been indicated that your Ubiquinol levels can decrease over time, suggesting that it has a close relationship with ageing. Ubiquinol is present at high levels in sperm as it protects sperm cells from damage and play a role in sperm cell energy production and motility.
3. Folic acid
A Dutch study found that men with fertility problems who took 5mg of folic acid and 66mg of zinc sulphate per day for 26 weeks had a 74 per cent increase in total normal sperm count.
Further to this, a study on 89 healthy and non-smoking males found a link between high levels of the nutrients in a man’s diet and the genetic quality of their sperm. The researchers found that total folic acid intake is associated with a statistically significant reduction in frequency of sperm abnormalities in healthy males.
Folate occurs naturally in food such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, bananas, melons, lemons, beans, mushrooms, meat including beef liver and kidney, and tomato juice.
Stress can interfere with the production of sperm. So if you are trying to conceive, try to get enough sleep and exercise, excluding excessive endurance activities as they have been shown to decrease male fertility.
To help combat stress, try getting a massage, meditate or there are numerous deep breathing exercises you can try.
5. Beware of the heat
Studies have shown that applied heat, such as the heat from a spa, sauna or direct contact with heating pads, may impair sperm production as they can raise a man’s body temperature temporarily. Further research has suggested that men who place their laptops directly on their lap can decrease their sperm count and sperm production. In the study, 29 men provided samples which were either stored normally or under a laptop with wireless connection. After four hours, the samples stored under the laptop showed a significant decrease in progressive sperm motility and an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation.
The heat is another factor with a laptop that may affect sperm quality, so opt to put your laptop on a tray or better still, a desk.
6. Lose weight
Losing weight to improve fertility is not just recommended for women. In fact, research has shown that men with BMIs over 30, which is considered to be obese, have a lower sperm count and reduced semen quality.
Excess fat can decrease a man’s testosterone levels as holding fat around his stomach or in his thighs can increase his body temperature. As mentioned above, sperm don’t thrive when they are too hot.
7. Cut back on the booze and Quit smoking
Studies have shown that heavy drinking can be harmful to sperm and men who drink heavily on a regular basis have lowered sperm counts and testosterone levels. Furthermore if you add smoking to the equation, you may damage the quality of the sperm as well.
8. Have sex regularly
This is an obvious one, but for more reasons than you think! Not only is sex important to conceive, but studies show that having regular sex can improve the quality of a man’s sperm and may even enhance his chances of fathering a child.
A study conducted at Sydney IVF found that daily sex for a week improved the genetic quality of sperm substantially without lowering sperm counts enough to impair fertility. While taking a few days off sex does boost sperm counts, the sperm quality and quantity can be damaged if a man ejaculates too infrequently.