Most men don’t give much thought to the quality of their sperm, until it’s time to start a family. But there is a lot you can do before that, to increase the chance of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, when the time is right.
Men need large numbers of good quality sperm that move well, to fertilise the woman's egg.
For about a third of all couples having trouble getting pregnant naturally, the problem is with the man’s sperm, his erections, or with the tubes the sperm move through.
There are ways you can protect your sperm, to increase your chances of becoming a father.
It takes about three months for men to make new sperm. So it’s really important to be as healthy as possible in the three months leading up to conception.
Sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone, are made in the testes.
Sperm travel with fluid made in a man’s reproductive system, and are released (ejaculated) during a sexual orgasm.
The quality and health of a man's sperm can be affected by:
- his age
- being overweight
- sexually transmitted infections
- using anabolic steroids.
Testes need to be a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body to make good quality sperm. This is why they sit in the scrotum which acts like an ‘evaporative air conditioning system’, at a lower temperature than the rest of the body. If it gets too hot around the testes, they can have problems making sperm.
You can keep your testes cool by:
- avoiding regular, very hot baths or spas
- keep your laptop and mobile phone away from your lap
- being a healthy weight and avoiding becoming overweight
- wearing loose-fitting rather than tight underwear.
Testes will start producing sperm again once the temperature of the scrotum stays at its normal lower level, which might take a few months.
Being hit or kicked in the testes can cause damage and therefore affect your fertility. Make sure you protect them if your job puts your testes at risk of injury, and don't forget protection while playing sport.
Lifting weights and muscle building exercises increase muscle mass and strength and improve your bone health and your general health.
Using anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass stops the production of sperm and may have other serious side effects.
Men who are overweight or obese have worse sperm quality and are not as fertile as men who are a healthy weight.
What you can do
So, if you want to be a dad one day, it's never too early to start looking after your sperm.
- getting into a regular exercise routine
- eating healthier
- watching your weight
- ditching the smokes and recreational drugs.
And remember to protect your sperm by:
- avoiding regular hot baths or spas
- keeping your computer and phone away from your lap
- wearing protective gear when playing sport
- avoiding anabolic steroids.
- Eisenberg, et al. M. (2015). Relationship between physical occupational exposures and health on semen quality: data from the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study. Fertility and Sterility, 103(5), 1271-1277. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2015.02.010
- Fullston, T., et al. (2017). The most common vices of men can damage fertility and the health of the next generation. Journal of Endocrinology, 234(2), F1-F6. doi: 10.1530/joe-16-0382
Page created on: 29/08/2018 | Last updated: 09/12/2021