Since sperm production is vital to male fertility and pregnancy, men need to know about healthy sperm. Here’s how male fertility affects pregnancy chances; these fertility tips are from Donald P. Evenson, Ph.D., HCLD, of the American Fertility Association.
First, the good news:
“Some alcohol is beneficial [for healthy sperm]” says Dr Evenson. “Especially dark red wines. So a glass a day may be positive [for sperm production]. However, dark grape juice may be substituted.”
And remember that too much alcohol isn’t good for men’s fertility levels, so stick to a glass of dark red wine a few times a week. It’s always good to check with your doctor first, though. If you’re trying to get pregnant and think you’re not producing sperm, read Overcoming Male Infertility.
And, here are several fascinating fertility tips from Dr Evenson — all related to healthy sperm production, quality, and count.
What Men Need to Know – Healthy Sperm Production
Remember that sperm takes three months to mature
It takes three months from a testicular germ cell to mature into a functional healthy sperm. The most important period is the last month which is likely the most sensitive to insults like hot tubs, cortisone treatments and other medications.
So if you’re doing a sperm test to figure out if male infertility is the reason for not getting pregnant, then make sure you do more than one. Illness and prescription medications can affect sperm production and count, which affects getting pregnant. Unhealthy sperm can result in a long time to get pregnant, more miscarriages, or no pregnancy at all.
Also, age matters: at age 50 there is a 1/3 chance of infertility simply due to age factor and sperm DNA fragmentation.
Some men have a high level of sperm DNA fragmentation
Men with a high level of sperm fragmentation have a higher level of spontaneous miscarriages. Couples with repeated pregnancy losses have fathers with a four times higher level of sperm DNA fragmentation than sperm donors. Sperm DNA fragmentation is simply damaged sperm. So, a man can have a normal sperm count but no luck getting pregnant because the sperm aren’t healthy.
Sperm DNA fragmentation causes problems
Men with a high level of fragmentation should go to a urologist and get examined. Hopefully the urologist won’t find a varicocele exists — it causes extra heat to the testes which isn’t good for sperm integrity. Diet is important — there are foods that improve healthy sperm production. If he isn’t getting enough antioxidants in his food, he might consider a supplementary product for oxidative stress (like the one pictured).
Air pollution could affect sperm production
Dr Evenson’s lab, the EPA and the Czech government studied a valley town that had a high level of industrial pollution– and also had a high number of miscarriages or no pregnancies. In an extensive study, sperm DNA fragmentation was the only factor that was correlated with the high and low levels of air pollution. In other words, pollution affects sperm production and getting pregnant.
Medications affect how men produce sperm
An excellent example of how some medications affect sperm motility was in a study of 45 men, according to Dr Evenson. For seven months, a man had excellent sperm DNA integrity – and one month he was very very poor. In the previous month, he had a back injury and had cortisone injection, which likely caused the poor DNA fragmentation. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, check your partner’s prescription medications!
Some natural supplements increase sperm count and production
Supplementary products, in addition to healthy foods, include “cocktails” put together by physicians and patients. There are several commercial products that increase sperm health. To learn more, read Getting Pregnant Faster – 6 Fertility Boosting Supplements.
Studies show older fathers take a longer time to achieve pregnancy
Recently, Dr Evenson found one of the molecular reasons for this. In a study of 100 men that were all healthy and similar backgrounds, they were divided into decades of age. Men in their 20s have about 5% of their sperm with fragmented DNA. Then going into the 30th year, sperm fragmentation increases, and by the age of 50 the average level is 30% of sperm with fragmented DNA. Older men simply have decreased sperm production, count, and quality – which makes getting pregnant more challenging.
To learn more about sperm production, read What Kills Sperm?
If you’ve recently had a sperm test, you might find What Do My Sperm Test Results Mean? helpful.
Source: American Fertility Association webinar, June 17, 2008.