When you and your spouse are trying to conceive, you’ll be inundated with information on what you can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant. And one such way is to ensure that your sperm is healthy.
Both the quality and quantity of sperm, which determines sperm health, can have a huge impact on how long you and your spouse will take to start a family. How would you know if you have healthy sperm?
1) Your ejaculate is white or light grey in colour.
Dr Joe Lee, a consultant and director of andrology and male reproductive medicine at the National University Hospital, notes that normal semen is usually white to light grey in colour. “Yellowish or greenish discoloration or the presence of flakes in the semen often points to the presence of infection.” Reddish or brownish discoloration may suggest a condition called hematospermia — the presence of blood in your semen. If the appearance of your ejaculate looks different from the usual, you should consult your physician — preferably an urologist — as soon as possible.
2) You don’t have any “spare tires” around your mid-section
The additional inches your diet is adding to your waistline is detrimental to sperm health. Obesity is associated with a condition called metabolic syndrome, Dr Lee notes. “The male testosterone hormone is low and this testosterone deficiency can affect sperm development.” Switch to a healthy and balanced diet and work off any excess calories by exercising regularly.
A study on couples undergoing in-vitro fertilisation treatment found that implantation rates were lower if the men consumed greater amounts of processed meats.
3) Your diet isn’t overloaded with processed meats
A study on couples undergoing in-vitro fertilisation treatment — carried out by Harvard University researchers — found that implantation rates were lower if the men consumed greater amounts of processed meats. Dr Lee points out while the study isn’t perfect, the increased amounts of saturated fat found in processed meat is known to affect male fertility.
4) You’re a boxer shorts guy
Wearing compression garments may improve your sporting performance, but the same benefits cannot be said for your sperm count. Skin-tight undergarments, including tiny briefs and trunks, can increase the temperature around your scrotum, killing sperm in the process.
5) You lead an active lifestyle
Male fertility can be affected by various factors including lifestyle and physical activity. A physically active guy will likely be in a better physical health and therefore have better quality semen, too. Dr Lee stresses that there isn’t a fixed amount of hours you need to exercise in order to improve your sperm quality — just remember, exercising regularly is certainly encouraged.
6) Your diet is packed with fatty fish
Add salmon and tuna, or any fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, to your shopping cart the next time you’re on a supermarket run, it’ll boost your sperm health. Dr Lee states, “Long chain omega-3 fatty acids, found in abundance in fish has been found to improve sperm count [and structure].” Just introducing a serving of fatty fish into your diet daily can have a positive impact on your sperm health.
Dr Lee cautions that BPA is known to be detrimental for male fertility by disrupting the way your hormones work.
7) You only use BPA-free plastics
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used to produce certain plastic products such as plastic containers and bottles. It is also used to line the insides of cans that store processed foods. Research has shown it is possible for BPA to seep into food or beverages from these containers every time it is exposed to heat or placed in the dishwasher. Dr Lee cautions BPA is known to be damaging for male fertility by disrupting the way your hormones work. But, current studies have yet to establish the exact levels of BPA required to affect male fertility.
8) You don’t smoke
Cigarettes don’t just increase your odds of getting cancer, your sperm count can be reduced because this filthy habit damages the DNA of your semen.
To be safe, consult your doctor
While scientific studies back the points mentioned above, Dr Lee cautions that it’s impossible to tell a man’s fertility based solely on his appearance. “Seemingly well couples, where the man [looks virile] are often shocked when abnormal semen findings are discovered.” So if you have any reason to believe something is amiss “down there” be sure to check in with your doctor!
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