Most times, when a couple can’t seem to get pregnant, they think the problem is with the woman. But they don’t understand that men also play a role in having a healthy baby.
Men need to be mindful of their sperm health, too. But how will they know their sperm is healthy? There are billions of sperm in a single ejaculate, which can’t be assessed through the naked eye.
Men can assess the health of their sperm by visiting a doctor and providing their semen for analysis. In this article, we’ll look at how men can know if their sperm is healthy and what they can do to produce healthy and fertile sperm.
How to Know Sperm is Healthy
A man’s sperm may seem fine on the surface, but they can only find whether they have any abnormalities when the sperm are tested in a laboratory. To do this analysis, a man’s sperm will be collected and tested under a microscope.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy and fertile man should have
- About 16 million/cc semen,
- At least 30-40% motile sperm, and
- At least 4% normally shaped sperm.
Below are the three factors that doctors will look into to assess the health of the sperm.
Sperm volume or sperm count is the number of sperm present in the semen. The more sperm a man has, the higher the chances of swimming to the egg and fertilizing them.
Sperm motility is the sperm’s ability to swim and move around. This ability is very important as the sperm needs to swim to reach the egg for fertilization.
In this test, the doctors will assess the number of sperm that are alive and can move freely among the total number of sperm.
The morphology of the sperm refers to its shape and structural qualities. The sperm need to be in good shape to swim through the uterus and reach the egg. Any morphological abnormalities can mean that the sperm has chromosomal or genetic abnormalities.
Here are some characteristics of a normally shaped sperm.
- The head should be oval-shaped
- The tail should be long and be able to move smoothly in a straight line through the semen.
Signs That You Have Healthy Sperm
Apart from getting a semen analysis, are there any ways men can know if their sperm is healthy? Well, there are some ways for men to find out about the state of their sperm. Here are some signs that can help with it.
1. Slimmer waist
This will probably be happy news for men who are crazy about fitness. Even if they don’t reach the level of having a six-pack, being fit and not having belly fat can be a sign of having good sperm health.
Researchers believe that having a waist of 40 inches or higher can be bad for sperm volume and motility. This is because the excess fat can cause hormonal imbalance by preventing the production of sex hormones.
2. Softer-looking face
Studies have found that men with average-looking features have more sperm health than men with more defined “manly” features. Here is the reason why.
A man’s body has a fixed amount of energy allocated for reproductive characteristics. So, if the energy is mostly devoted to the development of sperm health, then he might have less energy to devote to facial characteristics and vice versa.
3. Eat more fish
Studies have found that men who eat bacon, sausage, and other processed meats have lower sperm health than men who prefer to eat fish. This is more obvious in men who eat more salmon and tuna. They have about 65% more sperm health than men who don’t.
4. Don’t wear briefs
Men who wear loose-fitting underwear have been found to have higher sperm volume and motility than men who wear tight-fitting briefs. This is because tight-fitting underwear will increase the scrotal temperature, thus affecting sperm production.
5. Exercise regularly
A Harvard study has found that men who exercise regularly have more sperm concentration than men who don’t. Exercising increases the antioxidants in the body, thus preventing the free radicals from affecting sperm health.
Studies recommend men exercise 15 hours a week to maintain their sperm health.
What's the Best Way to Produce Healthy Sperm?
So, what are some preventive measures you can follow to ensure you have healthy sperm production? Let’s look at some of them.
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy BMI is vital to maintain sperm concentration and sperm motility. An increase in BMI has been associated with a decrease in sperm production.
As we have seen above, doing moderate exercises regularly can increase the antioxidants in your body and protect your sperm’s health.
Eat a healthy diet
Antioxidants are key to increasing sperm health. Men should eat fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants to improve sperm concentration, motility, and shape.
Stress and anxiety can influence your hormonal levels and affect sperm health. It can also impact sexual function. So, it is important for men to stay calm and maintain good mental health.
Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility in men. It is best to use protection like condoms and have fewer sexual partners to avoid contracting these diseases.
It is important for men to know their sperm health if they are trying for a baby with their partner. Undergoing a sperm analysis can help them assess their reproductive health and take the necessary measures to rectify the situation.
In case men were found to be infertile, they could opt for assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) like IUI or ICSI to become parents. They should discuss with their fertility doctor and decide on the best treatment option for their issues.
A semen analysis is done to assess the quality of the sperm in the semen. During the test, the semen is tested for
- sperm volume (concentration),
- sperm motility (movement or ability to swim), and
- sperm morphology (shape and structure).
A normal, healthy sperm cell will have an oval-shaped head with long tails that can swim in a straight line. An abnormal sperm can have features like enlarged or double heads, short, curved, or double tails, etc.
Having a thick semen consistency is not necessarily concerning if it is occasional. But if the situation goes on for a longer period, it might be because of issues in the prostate or the seminal vesicles. Immediately visit your doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.
If the semen has a watery consistency, it is often because of low sperm count or sperm quality. It also happens if the male engages in too much sexual activity.
Abstaining a few days from having sexual intercourse can help with this issue. If the situation persists, men can visit a doctor for semen analysis and discuss further treatments.