Male infertility is the cause of one in every three cases of childlessness. Increasing the sperm count is the most researched subject for couples. Several reproductive health studies have proven that obesity in males is one of the causes of poor sperm quality. Being overweight is having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 25–30 kg/m2. A BMI of above 30kg/m2 is termed as Obesity. CDC reproductive health report shows male fertility rates in the US have dropped by 2% between 2017 and 2018 and obesity accounted for 33% of this drop. Reproductive studies have also shown that 11% of overweight men are likely to have a lower sperm count or even no sperm at all compared to their peers. While 42% of obese men have reduced sperm count, 81% of these have no sperm at all (Azoospermia). So, here is the definition of Sperm Quality:
What is Sperm (semen) Quality?
Sperm Quality refers to the shape (morphology), movement (sperm motility), and quantity of sperms in semen. A healthy sperm will have rounded heads with long strong strand-like tails that help them to swim towards the egg (ovary). 40% of the sperm in semen is expected to be motile. The normal sperm quantity is 15 million sperms in 1(one) ml of semen also referred as semen quality. This amount determines the fertility of a man. The more the count, the better the fertility rate.
Increasing sperm count may not be as hard as it is thought. The body always works in unison with the mind. Here are the simplest things that people who are overweight ought to consider in order to stay confident to increase sperm count:
- Diet and Supplements
Obesity has an inverse relationship with the deficiency of Vitamin D which is necessary for the absorption of calcium which is essential for muscle contraction and hormone production. From research, a 10% increase in BMI results in a 4.2% reduction in Vitamin D. Men with sufficient levels of Vitamin D showed boost of testosterone hormone which is involved in sexual development and sperm production. One can combine vitamin D supplements with that abundant by the sun.
Obesity is negatively associated with Vitamin C activity in controlling the oxidative stress and inflammation. This inhibits DNA repair. Vitamins C is an essential antioxidant that protects sperm cells from damage from radicals found semen of fertile men. Several studies in healthy obese men have shown that Vitamin C supplementation increases sperm motility and sperm count.
Lack of Zinc leads to low levels of testosterone and poor sperm quality. Meat fish and eggs are rich in zinc. Other zinc in these foods, it can be supplemented with regular oral daily doses.
2. Regular exercises
Exercises are good for the overall good and well-being of the body. Exercises help in shedding off any irritations acquired during the day or week, and enhancing calmness. Exercises also boosts the buildup of neurotransmitters that enhances a feel-good situation, improves the overall mood and self-confidence. This boosts the proper functioning of the organs including the pituitary gland that stimulates the FSH to produce testosterone levels which enhances fertility. When exercising draw a schedule and stick to it. Always start small, walking before jogging, climbing stairs, weightlifting, etc and build up over time. It is recommended to do what you love and not to overdo it. Men who exercise regularly have better semen quality and levels of testosterone.
3. Avoid substance abuse
Men who use alcohol and drugs experience problems with sexual arousal. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it slows the body and the brain, the ability to maintain an erection and delayed orgasm. Substances like marijuana and cocaine have the potential to damage the DNA. Men who use these drugs experience higher testosterone levels in the bloodstream, shrinking of the testes and consequently reducing sperm production. Reduction and eventual avoidance in the consumption of alcohol and other substances improve the rejuvenation of sperm production and sperm count.
4. Minimize and avoid stress
Stress reduces sexual satisfaction and impairs fertility. When under stressful situations, the body produces adrenaline and marshal all the energy ready for fight or flight situation. Cortisol, a naturally occurring hormone provides the body with glucose by replenishing the body with energy consumed during the stress response. Once the causative agent for this response has passed, the body goes back to normal functioning. However, when this situation persists, the fight or flight mode remains turned on and may lead to anxiety, depression, weight gain, and lack of sleep among other conditions. Stress lowers the immunity, impairs body function, and lowers the production of testosterone.
Stress events are part of life and there is a need to learn how to manage them. Managing stress includes events like:
- exercising and eating healthy diets,
- having enough sleep,
- taking relaxation walks,
- fostering healthy friendships,
- participating in volunteer activities,
- engaging in hobbies:
- outdoor games
- watching movies,
- reading storybooks,
- cooking etc
These events boost the normal functioning of the body thereby enhancing sperm production.
5. Wear loose undergarments
Overweight and obesity lead to the accumulation of fat in organs in the abdomen and scrotum which increases the scrotal temperature. In a reproductive study about sperm production in men who wore loose-fitting undergarments (boxers), as opposed to tight or touchy undergarments (briefs), there was an increase of 17% in sperm production to the men who wore boxers. Tight-fitting undergarments coupled with obesity aggravates the situation and increases the temperature around the scrotal area thereby impairing sperm production.
Bonus tip: Watch your weight
As you take into consideration the 5 easy ways mentioned above, losing your weight is of great importance. The rapid increase in weight or being overweight to obese impairs negatively the function of the pituitary glands, that produce the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The FSH instructs the testes to release testosterone hormone leading to normal sexual development at puberty and normal sperm production (spermatogenesis) in adult men. Obesity is known to trigger type 2 diabetes. This is a condition in which insoluble glucose leads to the secretion of high insulin in blood circulation that indirectly affects the function of the pituitary glands thereby lowering testosterone levels. The above mentioned ways contribute immensely in the reduction of weight if followed with fidelity.
To conclude, being overweight is a worldwide problem and a major contributor for infertility in men. The above ways focus on improving the overall health which helps in increasing sperm quality and improving sex drive (libido)