Recent evidence documenting a global decline in the quality of human sperm has been seeing researchers scrambling to find answers to explain the phenomenon. Reports detailing a sperm count drop of over 50 percent across three continents means something is definitely happening, except the factors affecting sperm count and function are many.
As such, more studies are being conducted in the effort to try and better understand male fertility in general, but more specifically, to isolate the reasons why this is happening and what, if anything, can be done to rectify the situation..
Every day we make choices that potentially affect our future fertility. This is as true for men as it is for women. Many of the behaviors that affect female fertility apply to men as well, so it’s important that males understand this so they can weigh their decisions before potentially compromising their ability to sire children.
The following are a few factors that we know categorically will negatively affect male fertility.
Consuming alcoholic beverages has a negative impact on the male reproductive system. Though testosterone levels may increase when alcohol is consumed, the quality of semen production does not. When combined with smoking tobacco, the reduction of the sperm count is even more dramatic.
There’s no precise amount of alcohol level considered to be safe or acceptable when it comes to men hoping to become fathers. All the available research indicates that the more alcohol a man consumes, the worse the effect on his fertility,
Consuming illicit drugs can be a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but men who use recreational drugs need to understand the negative impact many of them have on fertility. For example, it’s been well documented that the frequent use of marijuana and/or cocaine directly affects sperm motility and makeup.
Opiates, steroids, and methamphetamines also negatively impact sperm. Ideally, anybody struggling with addiction to these drugs will seek help prior to actively trying to impregnate their partner,
Being overweight or obese will lessen a man’s chance of having children, although the relationship is complicated. A man with a body mass index (BMI) that places him in the overweight or obese category is more likely to be infertile and struggle with sperm quality.
The simple solution to this problem would seemingly be to lose weight, except anybody who has ever wrestled with their weight can tell you that losing it isn’t always so simple..
Smoking means willfully absorbing toxic chemicals in to the body. Research has repeatedly shown how these chemicals decrease the count, motility, and quality of sperm. Men who smoke even moderately put themselves at risk of developing fertility-related issues.
Adhering to a Mediterranean style diet is one way to positively affect sperm and semen. This diet includes plenty of omega-3 and fatty acids but avoids trans and saturated fats.
Eating lots of fruit and vegetables is always a good idea, while staying away from red meat and coffee can also positively impact fertility.
Stress impacts health and certain types of it directly affects male fertility. Though stress is a normal part of everyday life, prolonged, excessive stress creates hormone problems that hurt the body’s ability to produce sperm, which decreases substantially if the underlying stress isn’t properly addressed.
Aging obviously isn’t a lifestyle factor, bur rather simply a fact of life. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that it affects fertility, even among men.
A man’s sperm quality and quantity decrease over time, usually starting in his mid-thirties. Miscarriages are more common in women who mate with older men, and the chance of getting a woman pregnant decreases as men grow older.
This clearly isn’t a good reason to rush into having children, but is an important consideration when determining how long to wait before you start trying to conceive.
There are infections that can affect sperm, whether they alter the ability to produce healthy sperm or simply keep it from getting to the proper location. Some infections can be treated while others will make conception more difficult over the long-term.
It’s important to detail what medications are being taken when a man is trying to impregnate his partner as since certain drugs can cause harm to sperm. If it’s possible to stop the medication under a doctor’s supervision, fertility may not be affected over the long-term.
Too much radiation temporarily reduces sperm production, so this isn’t a long-term problem for most men. However, men who need regular radiation treatments to control cancer or other medical issues may find their sperm has been permanently affected, often resulting in infertility.
4. Chemicals and Heavy Metals
Exposure to chemicals is so common for most of us that we don’t even think about it anymore, but pesticides, heavy metals and lead can all lead to fertility problems.
As innocuous as it may sound, temperatures that are too high mess with sperm function. Frequenting hot tubs, saunas or wearing tight pants on a regular basis can impair fertility.
Not every factor affecting male fertility is controllable, but refraining from smoking, drinking, and eating unhealthy foods are all great ways to give it a boost. It’s also important to go for a full medical checkup and discuss any fertility concerns you may have with your doctor in advance of actively trying to conceive with your partner.