Your Fertility: what you need to know

Research has shown tht over the past 50 years, men’s sperm quality has deteriorated. This is one of the reasons why increasing numbers of otherwise healthy couples are resorting to fertility treatment. Our twenty first century lifestyle just isn’t good for sperm.

So why not double check to make sure your are ‘fit for fatherhood’ using the SpermComet test.

A semen analysis checks your sperm from the outside, but what about the inside? You and your partner are each going to give some of your DNA to your baby, so it is really important to check your sperm’s DNA quality. After the sperm fertilises the egg, its DNA is all that matters.

There are many enemies in our world today such as smoking, being overweight, recreational drugs use, environmental pollutants, even a ‘food on the run’ diet. The link between them all is that they produce high levels of ‘free radicals’ or oxidants which can damage your sperm’s health and DNA.

Sperm DNA damage can lead to a number of problems with fertility such as:

  • Problems getting pregnant naturally
  • Miscarriage

The SpermComet Test will help identify the quality of your sperm.

The good news is that men make new batches of sperm every three months. So if the SpermComet Test identifies DNA damage, you can make simple lifestyle changes to improve the quality of your sperm.

Smoking

Smoking over 20 cigarettes a day has shown to reduce sperm count and motility. Tobacco contains over 4,000 ingredients and lots of them are toxic to sperm including cyanide, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium and ammonia. One of the big problems with smoking is that it produces lots of ‘free radicals’ and these can kill sperm or make them dysfunctional. Smokers often have lower sperm counts, more abnormal looking sperm and slower swimmers. In one study, 42% of men who smoked couldn’t have a family compared to 28% of non-smokers.

Drinking

Drinking more than 2 pints of beer or 1 large glass of wine a day increases your risk of infertility. Alcohol can reduce sperm count and motility. When starting a family, try to keep alcohol intake to a minimum for at least 3 months prior to trying for a baby. 

UK guidelines say that men trying for a baby shouldn’t drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a week.

Stress

Although severe stress can limit sperm production and quality by producing free radicals, one of the worst results of stress is it can put you off sex. Stress can affect your libido and as the healthiest sperm are produced up to 5 days after your last ejaculation, taking some of the stress out of your life will go a long way to helping your sperm quality.

Age

Until recently, nobody thought age affected a man’s ability to father children. We all know of men who have fathered children in their sixties and even as late as their nineties. However, the latest figures show that men over 40 make up nearly a quarter of fertility consultations. Ageing induces sperm DNA damage. Even if your partner gets pregnant, this damage can cause both short and long term problems for your child’s health.

Recreational Drugs

Cannabis damages sperm in many ways. It slows sperm down and changes the way they act, making it harder for them to find the egg and to penetrate it when they do. Regular cannabis use over a few years can permanently reduce a man’s ability to make sperm.

Weight

Being overweight, and by overweight we mean having a body mass index of over 25, may affect the quality and quantity of your sperm. Regular exercise with healthy eating is essential to lose weight and maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Heat

When we say avoid heat, we don’t mean cancel your flights abroad, we mean testicular heat! Sperm production is best at a lower temperature than your normal body temperature (which is why the testes are where they are). So if you increase your testicular heat, it’s bad for your sperm. If you wear tight boxers, have long periods of sitting at a desk or even do lots of cycling, changing these habits can dramatically improve sperm production and quality.

Diet

Scientists have shown that maintaining a healthy balanced diet is important for healthy sperm. Just like you, sperm need lots of different nutrients to function properly.

Your diet should have:

  • Lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Some starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
  • Some protein like meat, fish, eggs and beans
  • Some milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Not too much fat, sugar or salt

Top 8 foods for healthy sperm!

Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain natural antioxidants such as lycopene which improve sperm motility and structure. Lycopene is actually more available in processed or cooked tomatoes, so tomato puree with a drop of olive oil is a great fat-soluble antioxidant.

Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds are rich in essential minerals and vitamins. Most importantly, pumpkin seeds have a high zinc content, which plays an important role in protecting sperm DNA from damage.

Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. Eating a handful of walnuts a day can improve sperm motility and morphology.

Blueberries: Blueberries are a great source of natural antioxidants such as quercetin and resveratrol. Blueberries are a sperm superfood, and can improve nearly everything about sperm.

Lentils: Lentils are rich in folic acid which is usually associated with female fertility. However it is important for men too, and it is needed to protect the sperm’s genes.

Pomegranates: Pomegranates are a pretty well-known high antioxidant superfood, great for circulation and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. On top of that, a glass of good quality pomegranate juice a day can increase sperm quality and sex drive!

Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that can help increase sperm motility.

Water: As basic as it seems, drinking enough water is a very simple way of improving sperm quality. Try hydrating with water instead of soft drinks or caffeine based drinks.