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August 26: Fertility Health Checks Learn More

December 2008


Are Sperm Going Bad?

Extracts from From Making Babies – Your Ultimate Guide to Fertility & Getting Pregnant
DrunkA single sperm has a short and fraught life. It is a wonder that fertilisation occurs at all – read on!

Some people say that male infertility may be on the increase around the world, however sperm quality is a controversial area but there is no denying that the lifestyle of many men today does not provide the optimum conditions for producing high rates of health sperm.

The most common cause of male infertility is an inability to produce sperm in viable numbers, or to produce sperm that can’t swim properly. Whilst there is often no “quick fix” for defective sperm, IVF can prove extremely effective as single sperm can be selected and then injected directly into the egg in an attempt to fertilise it.

Other causes for male infertility include damage to the testes from cancer treatment, in other cases healthy sperm become trapped in the testes by blockages that have nee caused naturally or by accidents and a small percentage of men have erectile or hormonal problems.

Here are some lifestyle factors that can influence sperm quality.

Obesity – this affects sperm production by either altering the effectiveness of sex hormones or simply by overheating the testes. The testes are meant to maintain a temperature that’s 2-3 degrees Celcius below core body temperature.

Sedentary Work – after sitting at work all day lots of men come home and sit for four hours in front of the TV or computer, which again can lead to over heating of the testes. Truck and taxi drivers who sit for long periods at a time can also suffer from compromised sperm due to over heating.

Poor Diet – (too much caffeine and nicotine) have been suggested as impeding sperm quality and production.

Stress – several studies have shown that acute stress can cause a reduction in sperm quality.

Ageing – the older a man is, the longer it takes for his partner to get pregnant even when the female partner is young. This is due to a reduction in sperm count and motility of the sperm. It also is known that the older a man is the more likely there is to bean increase in sperm DNA damage which means there are less healthy sperm available to fertilise the egg.

The other factor that is related to an older man that decreases fertility is the fact that some older men have sex less frequently, therefore decreasing the chance that conception will occur.

Studies have shown that smoking leads to a decreased sperm count, more abnormal sperm and poorer quality sperm. Smoking by men has been associated with delayed conception and markedly reduced fertility rates.

A USA study showed that anabolic steroids may compromise a man’s ability to produce sperm. The longer the steriod abuse, the more likelihood of sterility.

It has been long known that lifestyle factors can affect a woman’s chance of falling pregnant and now there is no denying that the lifestyle of a man is equally important when it comes to baby making.