Taking care of your family jewels will ensure that when the right time comes, you don’t fire blanks
Statistics show that of around 15 percent couples that suffer from infertility, nearly half is due to male infertility. According to Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Gynaecologist and Infertility specialist, Lilavati Hospital, “We always talk about the biological clock for women. But with men post 40s, sperm DNA fragmentation occurs and the sperm’s chances of causing a pregnancy reduces. In fact, today, even men in their 30s often experience sperm health problems. People who put their careers over family planning need to factor in these issues.”
The World Health Organisation’s guidelines specify the normal, healthy sperm count to be 20 million sperm per milliliter in a total semen volume of two ml. Pai notes how overtime, sperm counts have gone down across the world. “A decade or two ago, 40-50 million was the normal sperm count. However, WHO has changed the definition of what’s ‘normal’ and has brought it down to 20 million. Urban-influenced lifestyles along with food, water and milk contamination have adversely affected sperm health over the years,” he says.
Dr Pai says, a sperms health is assessed under various heads; sperm count (numbers), motility (movement), morphology (sperm shape and structure) and volume (total volume of ejaculate), among others. “Your lifestyle is key. If your work environment is extremely hot or if you are exposed to toxins, like say, in a chemical factory, it can cause a drop in your sperm count,” says Pai. What may also lower it are long, steamy baths, saunas and spending more than 30 minutes in a water tub that’s 40 degree celsius or above. Sexpert Dr Mahinder Watsa advises, “Riding the bicycle for too long may rise your scrotal temperature and affect sperm production. Stop for frequent rests while biking. As the scrotum always needs to be a couple of degrees lower than the body temperature, it’s better to ditch tight underwear and go for loose cotton ones.” So boxer shorts are not just sexy, they offer more air there too. Also, things can get steamy down there due to prolonged sitting at work and using laptops on your lap.
To stay safe, it’s best to get a semen analysis test done from a private laboratory so that certain lifestyle changes can be made to improve your sperm health over time, says Dr Pai.
Dr Arun Patil, Founder of the sperm bank Medilabs, says that of the 100 donors who approach them, 90 to 95 are rejected on various criteria. “We ensure that the donor is between 20 and 30 years of age, single, has undergone college education to ensure a certain IQ and doesn’t smoke, drink alcohol, chew gutkha or do drugs. This is because these factors plus a few tests ensure that the quality is optimum.” Frequent sex also ensures optimum sperm quality as it allows fresh sperm to replace the old. Too much sex though may cut sperm numbers by too much. A day or two’s gap between sex works wonders for sperm quality and density.
Road to improvement
Zinc, which is present in bananas, oysters and almonds, aids testosterone synthesis and increases sperm numbers, motility and volume. Nutritionists say foods with high content of vitamin A (carrots, milk, cheese, eggs), vitamin C (oranges, strawberries, broccoli) and vitamin E (peanuts, spinach, almonds, hazelnuts) optimise sperm health. Selenium-rich foods such as garlic and Lycopene-rich foods such as tomatoes and watermelon help prevent oxidative damage to sperms.
Tips to keep a soaring count
– Oranges, green tea and pineapples are known to lower sperm acidity
– Avoid frequent ejaculation or masturbation, restrict it to thrice a week
– Detox your body and have a lot of water and fruits for optimum growth
– Destressing with yoga or meditation can greatly help quality » Stop smoking. This hampers both count and motility.