Are you and your partner planning to start a family soon? What should you do to increase your odds of getting pregnant?
Optimal sperm health is key to conceiving a baby. A man should have sufficient amounts of sperm that are of good quality and have high motility so that fertilization can occur. Unfortunately, there are a lot of men that suffer from a condition called low sperm count, which is when there is not enough sperm contained in the semen when they ejaculate. If you have this, you will have a tough time fertilizing your partner’s egg and making a pregnancy happen.
What is the normal sperm count?
The normal sperm count is from around 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen to over 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. If your sperm count is lower than that, you have low sperm count or oligospermia.
To know how much sperm is present in your semen, you have to undergo a semen analysis test or sperm count test. In this test, your sperm’s health and viability are analyzed by checking for the following three primary factors in your semen:
- The quantity of sperm per milliliter of semen
- The shape or structure of your sperm
- Your sperm motility, or the movements of your sperm
Usually, you will have to take two to three sperm analysis tests to get enough information on your sperm health. Your doctor will advise you to do the tests at least one week apart, over the course of 60 to 90 days. Because sperm counts fluctuate all the time, conducting multiple tests to get an average value from the different sperm samples can yield the most definitive and reliable result.
What can you do to keep your sperm healthy?
To make your and your partner’s goal of having a baby come true, you should actively do things that can help support your sperm health. Below are examples of habits and practices that you should start doing now to increase your sperm quality and count:
Maintain a healthy weight
Packing extra pounds and fats is not good for your fertility. Various research studies have found that being overweight or obese can significantly decrease semen volume, sperm count, and sperm mobility. Their findings show that the higher your body mass index, the greater your odds of becoming infertile.
To get down to a healthy weight, you should talk to your doctor to get advice on how to start. They should be able to educate you about the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet, calorie counting and portion control, regular exercise, and other healthy practices to the success of your weight loss journey.
Smoking is a bad habit that only brings harm and damage to your body. It exposes your vital organs and systems to dangerous toxins and substances, such as nicotine, which can seriously impair important bodily functions and processes, including blood circulation, respiration, oxygen transport, and cognitive skills. It can also reduce your testosterone levels, libido or sex drive, and sperm count and quality, increasing your risk of erectile dysfunction, infertility, and other sexual health problems.
To kick the habit, you should go see a doctor. You may have to use treatment medications, such as nicotine replacement therapy, which come in different forms, including nicotine patches, nicotine gums, and nicotine lozenges; and non-nicotine medications, such as varenicline, which can work on the nicotine receptors in your brain, lowering the effects of withdrawal and reducing the urge to smoke.
Being physically active offers a ton of health benefits. It can help you burn more calories to achieve your weight loss goals faster, tone your muscles to make you look slim and fit, strengthen your heart and lower your risk of heart-related complications, and boost your mood and reduce your risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. It can also promote testosterone production, enhancing your sex drive, erections, and sperm count and quality.
There was a study that found that engaging in outdoorsy exercises and weightlifting can positively impact sperm health, and compared to other forms of exercise, these two produced the most impressive results when it came to sperm count, sperm structure, and sperm motility.
Eat sperm-boosting foods
Your diet plays a key role in your sperm health. You should include lots of sperm-friendly foods in your day-to-day meals for the good of your sperm function. Below are examples of foods that are great for your sperm:
- Antioxidant-rich foods, such as dark chocolates, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, beans, kale, and artichokes, contain molecules that can fight off free radicals and other substances that can harm your cells.
- Omega-3-rich foods, such as salmon, herring, oysters, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that are vital to the development of your sperm membrane.
- Zinc-rich foods, such as shellfish, nuts, legumes, eggs, and whole grains, can help increase your sperm count and boost fertility.
- Folate-rich foods, such as eggs, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, beets, and broccoli, have been found by several studies to have the ability to increase sperm count.
Manage stress levels
Stress can negatively affect various aspects of your health, including your sperm health. It can prevent your body from releasing the necessary hormones to produce good quality sperm. Certain studies have found that men who suffer from severe emotional stress and/or have been dealing with high levels of stress for a long period of time have a greater risk of infertility and other sexual health problems, including low testosterone and erectile dysfunction.
To protect your sperm, you should find ways to reduce your stress. Eat better and get more exercise. Spend quality time with family and friends. Get enough sleep. Learn some breathing and relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body. Go see your doctor and talk about prescription medications that you may take to provide some stress relief.