Sperm 101– Do This, Not That
- Take a multivitamin. A daily multivitamin can help provide vitamin E and vitamin C — nutrients that are important for optimal sperm production and function.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods are rich in antioxidants, which may help improve sperm health.
- Manage stress. Stress may interfere with certain hormones needed to produce sperm. Stress can also decrease sexual function.
- Get plenty of physical activity. Physical activity is good for reproductive health as well as overall health. Don’t overdo it, however. If you exercise to exhaustion, you may experience a temporary change in hormone levels and a drop in sperm quality.
- Watch your weight. Too much body fat may disrupt production of reproductive hormones, which can reduce your sperm count and increase your percentage of abnormal sperm. You’re most likely to produce high-quality sperm if you maintain a healthy weight.
- Use tobacco. If you use tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking can cause sperm to be misshapen and move slowly. In addition, smoking can damage your sperm’s DNA, possibly affecting a baby’s growth, development and risk of cancer. Chewing tobacco also may cause low sperm counts.
- Abuse alcohol. Heavy drinking can reduce the quality and quantity of sperm. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks a day.
- Use illicit drugs. Marijuana can decrease sperm motility and increase the number of abnormal sperm. Cocaine and opiates can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
- Hang out for long periods of time in the hot tub. Spending more than 30 minutes in water that’s 104 F (40 C) or above may lower your sperm count. Avoid hot tubs and steamy baths. Saunas may have a similar effect.
- Spend too long on the bike. Sitting on a bicycle seat for more than 30 minutes at a time — especially if you also wear tight bicycle shorts — may raise your scrotal temperature and affect sperm production. If you bike, choose a bike seat that’s not too hard or narrow, and make sure it’s adjusted to keep weight on your “sit bones.” While you’re biking, stop for frequent rests.
- Increased scrotal temperature can hurt sperm production. Hot work environments, tight underwear, prolonged sitting and use of laptop computers directly on your lap can all increase scrotal temperature. A fever also can affect sperm production and quality.
- Use certain medications. Anabolic steroids, antibiotics and certain medications used to control chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or inflammatory bowel disease, can reduce your fertility. Anti-androgens used to treat prostate enlargement and cancer interfere with sperm production. In addition, chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment for cancer can cause permanent infertility. If you’re considering cancer treatment, ask your doctor about saving and freezing your sperm (semen cryopreservation) beforehand.
*image: Human Sperm. Copyright (c) 2003 The Journal of Science.
*Information taken from “Healthy Sperm: Improving Your Fertility” / MayoClinic.com
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