Infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive after trying without protection for at least 12 months.
That is the clinical definition, but the experience of not getting your partner pregnant can be very frustrating from the first month.
In infertility cases, doctors should investigate who is having problems achieving a pregnancy. However, you may want to increase your fertility rate independently of anything else.
It is a fact that our habits and what we do every day change our health. It also changes our fertility rate by increasing or decreasing the sperm count.
But what is a sperm count, how does it work, and what habits should you avoid to keep your fertility rate as high as possible? Keep reading to find out.
What is a sperm count?
The sperm count is a semen analysis performed in the ejaculate to determine the number of available and functioning sperm cells. The average number of functional sperm cells determines how likely it is to fertilize eggs through vaginal intercourse. In other words, the more viable sperm cells you have, the more likely it is to get a woman pregnant.
In a healthy male, the sperm count should be around 40 and 300 million sperm cells per milliliter. Having less than 10 million sperm cells per milliliter usually reduces fertility.
The importance of your sperm count
The sperm count is essential if you’re worried about fertility. It is an important measure to take if you’re trying to conceive naturally and without any aid.
Many sperm cells die in the process of reaching the egg for fertilization. Thus, even if only one will fertilize the egg, the more sperm cells you have, the more likely it will be to have a winner that takes the prize.
Besides affecting your fertilization rate, a higher sperm count is also a positive health parameter. It depends on testosterone levels and other hormones, and they reduce body fat and have additional functions in the body.
Indeed, many additional factors influence fertility and general health. However, we can’t deny the importance of the sperm count. Thus, let us review the main everyday habits that may lower your sperm count.
10 everyday habits that are lowering your sperm count
1) Drinking alcohol very often
Alcohol is a toxin in the liver and many other body structures. It causes free radical damage, harms your liver, and has a chain effect that ultimately affects your sperm count.
Drinking too much alcohol for a long time is also known to stimulate the conversion of testosterone into estradiol, which also explains sperm count reduction.
Studies show that alcohol abuse reduces sperm production but also affects sperm morphology. In other words, the count is reduced, and the number of sperm cells with deformities increases.
2) Drinking too much coffee
Coffee has many benefits, but excess caffeine is not always good. The adverse effects include anxiety, headaches, and a reduction in sperm quality.
According to a recent study, drinking more than four cups of this standard morning drink may reduce the number of viable sperm cells. They are more commonly found with deformities, and the fertility rate may plummet.
Alcohol and smoking are two habits that often go together in the same person. They are both detrimental to our health and sperm parameters.
Tobacco smoke introduces several toxins to the body. They damage our blood vessels and reduce the blood flow to the testicles. They also have carcinogens and damage the DNA in sperm cells.
According to studies, heavy smoking hampers the quality of the seminal fluid and reduces sperm motility.
4) Using recreational drugs
Using drugs such as marijuana and cocaine may affect sperm quality. They decrease testosterone levels, which directly influence the sperm count.
Opioids such as oxycodone may also have the same effect when used for a very long time. It suppresses luteinizing hormone release by the pituitary, affecting testosterone levels and sperm quality.
Cocaine reduces blood flow by causing constriction in the testicle blood vessels. Chronic consumption may even lead to atrophies in the testicle tissue.
5) Eating high-calorie foods
The body mass index (BMI) influences testosterone production and modulate sperm quality.
Studies show that BMI increases may reduce sperm count. Thus, it is not recommended to keep eating high-calorie foods that contribute to this problem.
Instead, we should adopt a diet with rich fruit and vegetable intake. They have more vitamins and minerals that improve sperm quality.
6) Bathing with very hot water
The main reason the testicles are outside of the body is that they function much better in lower temperatures. Staying warm inside the body would affect sperm quality and hormonal function.
Thus, if you keep them warm for a long time by bathing in hot water, the synthesis of sperm cells may become affected. Higher temperatures interfere with various metabolic processes and should be avoided.
7) Using steroids for athletic purposes
If you’re using steroids to increase your athletic performance, there’s a high chance that your testicles will suffer in the process. Normal testosterone production is affected, your testicles may shrink, and sperm cell formation is often affected.
Even formal testosterone replacement therapy has this problem. Thus, do not use these external aids if you can’t avoid them. If you have low testosterone symptoms, talk to your doctor before trying testosterone replacement therapy on your own.
8) Sitting for too long every day
The temperature increases between your legs when you’re sitting for too long. It has a similar effect to bathing in hot water when you sit for a very long time every day. Additionally, sitting for too long is associated with a high rate of obesity.
Studies show that people who sit for many hours a day have a lower sperm cell count. Thus, the recommendation is to engage in physical activity more often, watch less TV, and use standing desks if your work involves many hours in front of the desk.
9) Not dealing with stress and anxiety
Sperm quality is also affected by stress and negative emotions. Compared with stressed individuals, males who deal better with stress have a higher sperm count.
Stress increases apoptosis (cell death) rates in sperm cells. It is associated with a higher rate of sperm pathologies, abnormalities, and alterations in the DNA.
A study that evaluated this parameter proposes stress as a risk factor for idiopathic infertility.
10) Not ejaculating often
Ejaculating often increases sperm quality and may improve testosterone levels. However, we should balance the right proportion of sexual intercourse or masturbation to achieve an optimal sperm count.
Ejaculating too often reduces your sperm count because the rate of spermatogenesis is lower than the frequency of sperm release. Not ejaculating often may reduce testosterone levels and spermatogenesis rate.
According to a recent study, the first 4-5 days after ejaculating, there is a reduction of sperm count. Thus, abstinence is recommended for days or weeks before ovulation and should be followed by daily copulation around that time to increase the chance of conception.
How to increase your sperm count
- Increase your physical activity levels and use standing desks instead of sitting for too long
- Stop smoking and using recreational drugs
- Limit your alcohol and coffee consumption
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially foods rich in vitamin D, calcium, folate, and zinc.
- Use science-backed supplements such as Ashwagandha and Fenugreek
- Reduce saturated fat intake and increase the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids
- Try to stay away from contaminants and environmental toxins
The sperm count is an essential parameter of semen quality. Sperm cells are produced in the testes and travel through the seminiferous tubules to be released.
Higher sperm counts are associated with higher chances of fertilization, and sperm count is a common test to perform before starting fertility treatment.
We have evaluated in this article what lowers sperm count in our daily lives. These factors include smoking, heavy alcohol drinking, heavy caffeine consumption, and behaviors that lead to obesity. Such factors reduce sperm concentration and sometimes cause low testosterone levels leading to infertility.