Even if you are not actively trying to conceive, maintaining a healthy sperm count is a marker of overall health. Recent studies have shown that sperm quality is decreasing at an alarming rate. With articles calling this phenomenon Spermageddon, it’s difficult not to be alarmed. Here’s a look at the facts so you can determine how concerned you need to be, as well as advice for naturally boosting your sperm count.
Decreasing Sperm Counts
In 2017 an international team of researchers released the data on the most comprehensive study on male sperm count ever completed. The study looked at semen samples from more than 40,000 men in 50 countries. The results showed a surprising 60 percent decrease in sperm count between 1973 and 2011.
Decreasing sperm counts were blamed, in part, on increased exposure to endocrine disruptors – a class of hormone-mimicking chemicals found in everything from plastics to pesticides.
Since this initial study, a new analysis published in Human Fertility journal has called some of the panic caused by this study into question. Researchers suggest a flawed methodology and argue that declining Western sperm counts are still well within the World Health Organization’s normal range of 15 to 259 million sperm per milliliter. The 2021 Human Fertility report did, however, verify that average sperm counts have decreased from 99 million sperm per milliliter to 47 million sperm per milliliter. While not optimal, it’s not until semen dips below 15 million sperm per milliliter that physicians become concerned. The researchers also noted that sperm counts tend to vary naturally over time, and within populations, and are not always an accurate indicator of fertility.
Male Reproductive Health
A positive thing about sperm count studies is that they have brought more attention to men’s reproductive health. Male infertility is responsible for at least half of all infertility issues, yet the focus for the inability to conceive has traditionally been placed on women.
Experts agree that too little attention is paid to the impact of low sperm count on male reproductive health. While men are encouraged to regularly monitor their cholesterol and blood pressure, for example, the same isn’t true for sperm count.
Even if you are not actively trying to conceive, your sperm count is important to your overall health. Poor sperm quality has been linked to illnesses such cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
How Do you Know if you Have a Low Sperm Count?
The only way to determine sperm count is with a semen analysis test conducted by a physician. Low sperm count, and its associated symptoms, are all a result of fluctuating testosterone levels. Some of these symptoms include decreased facial or body hair, difficulty maintaining an erection, and low sex drive. If these problems are an issue for you, it’s important to visit your physician and ask for a semen and hormone analysis.
Five Steps To Naturally Boost Your Sperm Count
There are natural steps you can take to improve your semen quality. Here are the top five ways you can have a positive impact your sperm count.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese is associated with poorer semen quality. Carrying excess weight can affect hormones such as testosterone, which are important for reproductive health.
2. Minimize Bad Habits
Smoking is strongly associated with increased infertility rates. There is also evidence that recreational drugs, heavy alcohol use, and a sedentary lifestyle all decrease sperm count.
3. Limit Hot Tub Use
There’s evidence to prove that regularly exposing the testicles to hot temperatures can decrease sperm production.
4. Don’t Compromise on Sleep
Most of your daily testosterone release occurs when you sleep. To keep your levels optimal aim for 7 to 8 hours of nightly rest.
5. Boxers over Briefs:
There is truth in the rumors of boxers over briefs. Evidence shows that breathy boxers are associated with higher sperm concentrations that tight briefs.
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