It is estimated that about one in seven couples faces difficulty conceiving. While people think that most fertility problems involve the woman, around 40% of infertility cases are actually attributed to the male partner. Male infertility can stem from a variety of reasons including low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape (morphology), suboptimal movement (motility) and/or function.
Below are the things that can affect Male Infertility.
– Do you sit for a long period of time (e.g. long-distance driver) or are you an avid bicyclist? Do you use hot tubs or heated car seats? Or wear tight underwear? Heat can have a detrimental effect on normal sperm production. This is the reason why the testicles are located outside the body in the scrotum rather than in the abdomen like the ovaries. Studies show that actions or activities that raise testicular temperature can decrease sperm count.
– Sperm health can be affected by overexposure to certain environmental elements such as industrial chemicals (e.g. benzenes, toluene), pesticides and heavy metals. A 2015 Harvard study revealed that men who ate fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues (e.g. strawberries, spinach, peppers) had lower sperm counts and lower percentages of normal sperm than those who ate produce with lower pesticide levels.
– It turns out that processed meats such as bacon and sausage may also decrease sperm count. In another Harvard study, researchers found that men who ate between one and three servings of processed meats per day had worse quality sperm than those who ate the fewest servings. In comparison, sperm quality was better in men who ate the most white fish (e.g. cod, halibut). And men who ate the most fatty fish like salmon, bluefish or tuna had a 34% higher sperm count than those who ate the least amount of fish. Note that soy can also negatively affect sperm quality as it contains isoflavones which mimic estrogen.
– Smoking over 7 cigarettes a day has been shown to reduce both sperm count and sperm motility
– Chronic heavy drinking can cause shrinkage of the testicles (ouch!) and decreased testosterone production. This can result in impotence (the infamous ‘brewer’s droop’), the loss of male characteristics (for example reduced facial and chest hair), the development of ‘man-boobs’ and the deposition of more fat on the hips. In cases of alcohol abuse, it can also cause infertility.
– Heat and radiation from mobile phones have an effect on sperm health. Studies show that using Wi-Fi can decrease a man’s fertility by decreasing sperm motility and increasing sperm DNA fragmentation.
– Exposure to radiation from X-rays or cancer therapy can reduce sperm production. With high doses of radiation, sperm production can be permanently reduced.
– If you are overweight, it’s time to shed those extra pounds. Yet another Harvard study found that overweight men are 11% more likely to have a low sperm count and 39% more likely to have no sperm in their ejaculate. Obesity can reduce fertility by lowering testosterone levels (greater fat storage can end up turning testosterone into the female hormone estrogen, leading to a slowing or cessation of sperm production), directly raising testicular temperature due to extra insulating fat tissue and increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction.
– Many Studies have linked the effects of psychological stress on male fertility, especially the semen quality. Researchers found that men with higher levels of both short- and long-term stress and anxiety have less semen and lower sperm concentration and counts.