Supercharge your sperm

Defeat fertility problems by making quick, simple moves to give sperm a fighting chance.

It seems like it should be a given that right now your testicles are locked and loaded with millions of healthy sperm, ready for their release at a very pleasurable moment’s notice. Truth is, there are countless factors that can affect different aspects of your sperms’ viability including your total sperm count, motility—how well they swim—and morphology, a.k.a. their size and shape.


“Any man who wants to have kids now or in the future should be concerned about the health of his sperm and take any steps needed to improve sperm quality,” says Darius Paduch, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and urologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. About 30 percent of fertility problems are due to the man. Safeguarding your swimmers today could keep you from getting cozier with a sterile plastic cup than you ever imagined you would be.

1. Lose weight.

If you’re overweight or obese, shedding pounds will do more than help you look better naked—it will reinvigorate your reproductive mojo. “Excess fat can decrease testosterone levels, which affects your ability to produce sperm,” Dr. Paduch says. Fat in your belly and thighs also increases your body temperature. “The testicles are outside of your body because sperm prefer colder temperatures,” he adds. Too much fire in your loins can decrease total sperm count and motility, and cause DNA damage. “Men who lose weight improve their sperm quality naturally,” he adds.

2. Lay off the soy.

If you’re trying to conceive, better skip sushi dates for a while. Raw fish is off limits for women during pregnancy while soy products—such as edamame and soy sauce—can affect sperm production. Soy contains phytoestrogens, naturally occurring compounds in plants that mimic the female hormone estrogen. Your body may respond to higher levels of estrogen by churning out less testosterone, which is essential for sperm production. In a study of mice, rodents fed a soy-rich diet had 25 percent lower sperm counts and fathered 21 percent fewer pups than those that ate a soy-free diet.

3. Get screened for diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 27 percent of people with diabetes are undiagnosed, and nearly 93 percent of people with prediabetes don’t know they have the disease. “Elevated blood sugar affects the seminal vesicle’s ability to push sperm through the reproductive tract,” Dr. Paduch says. A simple blood test can identify whether your blood sugar levels are too high, and treatment with diet changes and medication, if needed, can help.

4. Pound the pavement.

Men who exercise about 7 hours a week have a 48 percent higher sperm count than guys who break a sweat for less than an hour a week, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. Exercising outdoors has an especially beneficial boost, possibly due to the increased levels of vitamin D you receive from the sun, which may play a role in sperm production. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercise can rein in stress. An Italian study found that men with the highest levels of stress and anxiety had lower sperm concentrations, decreased motility, and a greater likelihood of DNA damage compared to those with lower levels of stress.

Sperm5. Upgrade your eats.

A major factor that determines whether your sperm sink or swim is the health of your mitochondria—or your cells’ batteries. “Motility depends on the energy level of the sperm, which is determined by the mitochondria,” Dr. Paduch says. Eating a diet high in fat and light in plants can increase the risk of free radical damage, which negatively impacts the mitochondria. A study in the journal Human Reproduction found that men who downed the most fat had 43 percent lower total sperm count compared to those with the lowest fat intake. Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can combat free radicals and improve the quality and quantity of your sperm. In addition, consider taking a supplement containing L-carnitine, an amino acid that’s been shown to boost sperm count and motility, Dr. Paduch says. It’s also found naturally in poultry, fish, dairy products, and avocados.

6. Skip the hot tub.

You put your time in at the gym, so now you deserve a soak in the steamer, right? Better stay on dry land, especially if you and your partner are trying to conceive. “Research in monkeys shows that just 15 minutes to half an hour in a hot tub renders them completely sterile,Dr. Paduch says. “An increase of just 2 degrees negatively affects sperm production in humans.” His advice: A quick 10-minute soak is fine, but if you’re trying to have kids in the next 3 to 6 months, you’re better off keeping your dips infrequent and brief—or avoiding them altogether until there’s a bun in the oven.

7. Visit a urologist.

Your semen contains tens to hundreds of millions of sperm each time you ejaculate, but the vast majority of them are deformed. According to the World Health Organization, a mere 4 percent of sperm need to have a regular shape for your fertility to be considered normal. A major factor that can impact your sperms’ size and shape is called a varicocele—similar to a varicose vein, it develops along the cord that holds up your testicles. It occurs in about 15 percent of men. When you have a varicocele, blood that should go from the testicle to the heart pools in the vein and increases the temperature of the testicle, which damages sperm, Dr. Paduch says. Varicoceles are often treated with a simple surgical procedure, and the sooner you have it, the better off you may be. If you notice any large, twisted veins or a bulge that feels like a bag of worms near your scrotum, make an appointment with a urologist, stat.

Supercharge your sperm
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Supercharge your sperm
It seems like it should be a given that right now your testicles are locked and loaded with millions of healthy sperm, ready for their release at a very pleasurable moment’s notice.
Jon The Nudist
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Supercharge your sperm

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