Your sperm may not spend hours in the gym, but they still have the ability to grow strong and virile. From food and exercise to wearing loose-fitting underwear, there’s more than one way to whip those sperm into shape.
Both you and your partner have a role to play in a healthy pregnancy. So, without further ado, here’s everything you should know about sperm health and how to make sperm stronger for pregnancy.
What determines sperm health?
There are 3 categories that a fertility specialist uses to determine sperm health. These are quantity, movement and shape. Here’s what each of those means.
It may only take 1 sperm to make a baby, but it takes millions to have the best chance of conceiving. A good sperm count is considered around 20 million sperm per millilitre (ml).
With this many sperm in your field, it’s highly likely that you’ll have enough movement and strength to reach that precious egg .
Sperm movement is also called motility. Sperm need to be moving forward to find the egg. Think of it like swimming upstream. If they swim in other directions or have abnormal movement patterns, this is considered unhealthy .
The shape is also known as sperm morphology. You want a nice streamlined tadpole shape when viewed under a microscope. A shape like this helps to penetrate the egg .
Age also plays a role
There are a lot of things that can affect your sperm health, some of which we’ll explore later. But one of the biggest factors to affect sperm quality is your age.
Even though men continue to make sperm throughout their lives, young sperm tends to be healthier. Men over the age of 45 tend to have fewer sperm and their movement is often impacted too . This means that falling pregnant can take longer and there might be an increased risk of miscarriage .
That’s not to say you can’t have children older, but you might want to speak with your doctor about some additional support.
What causes male fertility problems?
When all you want is to have a family, it can be frustrating to find your fertility won’t cooperate. You can feel embarrassed or even like you're not good enough.
But, we want you to know it's not unusual. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 cases of infertility is caused by male fertility problems . There are also many things you can try to positively impact male fertility, but we'll get to that later.
First, here are a few of the common fertility problems.
You’re reading an article on strong sperm so we think you understand that weak sperm can cause fertility issues. Things like a low sperm count, an abnormal shape or poor sperm motility can all impact your fertility .
The first step here might be to boost your sperm health with a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. But, if all else fails, you can try artificial insemination or IVF .
Some men have a blockage or obstruction that stops sperm from being ejaculated. This is actually how a vasectomy works.
But, when it wasn't a voluntary procedure, a physical blockage could be caused by an injury. In cases of physical fertility issues, surgery is a common fix .
Making a baby isn’t rocket science — you need your sperm to reach your partner’s egg. But, sometimes your body is not up to the task. Functional problems in the bedroom might include :
- Erectile dysfunction
- Retrograde ejaculation where sperm enters the bladder instead of being ejaculated
- Testicle injuries
- Conditions like diabetes or MS
The treatment pathways for these fertility issues vary, so speaking with your doctor is ideal.
Testosterone is an important sex hormone for men and women, but it’s a bigger deal for men. It regulates the sex drive, helps make blood cells and even helps your testes to produce sperm .
Low testosterone levels can happen for many reasons, such as :
- An injury or infection that damages your testes
- Damage to your pituitary gland
- Genetic disorders
- Chronic health conditions
- Certain medicines and cancer treatments
Your hormone levels can be checked with a blood test and you can also use supplements to help encourage higher testosterone levels. For example, Pilot’s Testosterone Support is a daily supplement packed full of essential vitamins and minerals which support testosterone production.
Is healthy sperm thick or runny?
Let’s get one thing straight — what you ejaculate is not just sperm. It’s a mix of seminal fluid and sperm. So, while its texture can tell you some things about your sperm, ejaculate is not a direct link to sperm health .
Generally speaking, a thick, cloudy and whitish-grey liquid is considered healthy. Its thickness and cloudiness suggest you have concentrated sperm (there’s a lot in there) .
Watery or runny semen can be a sign of a low sperm count, but nothing is guaranteed. It could also be telling you many other things, such as :
- How hydrated you are
- Whether you’ve been drinking, smoking or taking other drugs
- If you have a hormonal imbalance
- It could be a sign of infection
- It might suggest you're low in zinc, which is key for sperm production
Runny semen can also be a sign that you’ve been ejaculating frequently. Your body needs time to produce sperm. So, whether you’re having lots of sex or enjoying frequent masturbation — your semen might look runny or watery if you’ve ejaculated several times that day .
Watery sperm doesn’t always mean you’ll have trouble conceiving. But, if you’re already worried about male infertility, it’s worth mentioning this symptom to your doctor. They might suggest a semen analysis that can check for things like low sperm counts, motility and shape .
How to make sperm thicker and stronger
By now, you understand how strong and healthy sperm can make your chances of conceiving better. So, how do you improve sperm health? Here’s everything you need to know.
Maintain a healthy weight
Most of us realise that being overweight can impact our health, but did you know it can affect fertility too? You’re likely to have less sperm and the sperm you do have often have problems with movement .
Your sperm also carries the DNA that will decide your baby’s future health. When you’re overweight, there’s a higher chance that you’ll pass on some less-than-desirable genes at conception .
We know it’s not always easy to lose weight, but it’s usually worthwhile. So, if you can, try to set some goals to get your body into a healthy weight range.
Get a sexual health checkup
Sex is fun and carefree, and occasionally, risky. Even though sexually transmitted infections are common, we shouldn’t ignore them. Even 1 instance of unprotected sex increases your risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Certain STIs can cause damage to the vessels that transport sperm. They can also limit sperm production and make those swimmers lazy . Many STIs have no symptoms, so getting a health check-up can be a great way to prepare for becoming a dad.
Focus on healthy habits
Keeping your sperm healthy is actually pretty similar to keeping your whole body healthy. It relies on lifestyle factors from maintaining a healthy weight to eating well, exercising regularly and cutting out bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking .
There are lots of small changes you can make for better semen quality.
What foods make sperm stronger for pregnancy?
We bet it doesn’t surprise you to hear that your diet can boost fertility. An example of a healthy diet would include lots of seafood, chicken, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables and skim milk .
An unhealthy diet would have mostly fats, red meat, processed meat, refined grains, sweet treats and sweetened beverages . That’s obviously a simplified example, so here are some more specifics.
Focus on good fats
Not all fats are evil. Some of them are really good for you. Studies have found that foods containing omega-3 fatty acids can improve sperm quality. You can get those from a nice piece of fish or a handful of walnuts .
Saturated fats and trans fats are known to lower sperm quality. So, you’ll want to limit these in your diet — opt for polyunsaturated fats instead .
Eat antioxidant-rich foods
A daily dose of antioxidants can help increase your sperm count and improve sperm motility. Selenium is a good option for sperm production — you can find it in Brazil nuts, chicken, fish and meat . Another top option is vitamin C which helps with sperm motility .
Try to limit soy and tofu
There is mixed evidence for how soy and tofu products can impact your sperm. They both contain isoflavones which are similar to the female hormone oestrogen. The theory goes, too much oestrogen can reduce sperm quality .
But, studies have had conflicting results . So, it’s up to you whether you want to cut out this food group or not.
Consider a male prenatal
Did you know it takes around 3 months for your body to make new sperm ? That means it’s a good idea to start planning for pregnancy early. Taking a prenatal can help ensure the next round of sperm your body produces are strong and virile.
Kin’s Male Prenatal is designed to give dads-to-be and their sperm a healthy start on their conception journey. It features many of the vitamins we’ve already mentioned like selenium, vitamin C and zinc. Plus, a host of others from folate to vitamins D and E.
What to avoid for sperm health
So far, we’ve talked a lot about what you should be doing for healthy sperm. But, is there anything you need to cut out? Yes, a few bad habits should get the chop.
If there is only one thing you do to prepare for pregnancy; make it this one. Smoking is known to reduce fertility and cause health risks for your baby .
Let’s start with fertility. Smoking can lower sperm counts, damage your sperm and make it harder for you to get an erection. Heavy smokers have higher risks, but even men on less than 10 per day are impacted .
The scariest part is smoking could ruin your child’s health. Evidence suggests that heavy smoking (20 or more per day) increases your child’s risk of developing childhood leukaemia .
Passive smoking — where you get it second-hand — is still a risk. So, a smoke-free household and lifestyle are recommended.
Vaping and e-cigarettes are newer products, so we have less research on their effects. That doesn’t mean they are safe — it means we don’t know yet. The safest option is to avoid these as well .
It can help to get support from family and friends when you decide to quit smoking. They can encourage you and remind you what you’re doing it for.
Stop using illicit drugs
If you’ve ever used illicit drugs from anabolic steroids to marijuana, cocaine or heroin, these can lower your fertility .
We’re not here to judge what you’ve done in the past. But, we would recommend cutting out recreational drugs for the best chance of conceiving a healthy baby.
Avoid heat near your testes
If we’re being honest, your testes can be a little sensitive. They like to stay cool and calm for good-quality sperm.
That means, when you’re trying to conceive, heat is a no-go. Avoid hot baths, and spas as well as wearing tight underwear and clothing . Working with a laptop on your lap is a risk too since it generates heat in your groin area .
This one is a bit severe, but some men also steer clear of cycling because the tight-fitting shorts can trap heat and the seat can cause trauma to your testes .
Wear protection during sports
We’d never say stop playing sports, but we might say adjust how you play. Any damage or injuries to your testicles has the potential to affect your sperm quality and fertility . Wearing protective gear for contact sports is recommended.
Watch out for hazards at work
Toxic chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals can all affect your sperm. But, if you work in an industry with these present, you don't have much choice . Make sure you’re vigilant about OHS rules and wearing protective gear at work. Your sperm will thank you.
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