November is National Men’s Heath Awareness Month, so we’re spotlighting a very important topic: sperm quality and male fertility. Male fertility can be affected by a variety of factors, some more complex than others. While men can produce sperm every day, it takes about three months for sperm to mature. The body’s environment during those three months has an impact on the overall health of sperm. Here are 7 things you should know that can affect male fertility and sperm quality:
Greater than 300mg of caffeine per day can decrease male fertility by up to 27%. It is recommended to have no more than 1-2 cups of coffee a day.
Excessive alcohol can lower testosterone, a hormone needed for sex drive and sperm production. Recommended alcohol intake for fertility is less than 2 drinks per day.
Nicotine can damage blood vessels which impairs circulation and overall blood flow. This can lead to poorer sperm quality and difficulty achieving erections. Marijuana use has been associated with abnormal sperm development and lower levels of testosterone.
4. Toxic Exposures
Toxic exposures such as radiation/x-rays, lead, pesticides, and solvents can impair sperm production.
Use of steroids used for body building and even medication aimed at restoring hair growth for men can suppress male hormone secretion which negatively affects sperm production.
Sperm development requires optimal temperature. Environments that increase scrotal heat such as hot tubs, saunas, tight fitting clothing, and bathing can all impair sperm production.
There is emerging evidence that male obesity negatively impacts sperm quality and can alter the molecular structure of sperm stem cells which ultimately affects mature sperm. Following a healthy diet and exercising 30 minutes a day can help optimize male fertility.
If you have been trying to conceive for 6 months or longer, it is time to see a reproductive urologist or a fertility specialist.