5 Easy Ways Overweight Men Can Increase Sperm Quality

Vector Images of human sperms and a human egg (ovary)

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:

  1. 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,
    • dancing,
    • 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)


The War on COVID-19: 5 Facts Why Testing is Supreme (African Situation)

Lock-downs! Will this win the COVID-19 war in Africa? Me thinks not and here is the reason why.

A Medical Laboratory Personnel preparing highly infectious material in a bio-safety chamber

The current trend of the novel Corona virus (COVID-19) infection is on an upward trajectory. Corona virus is a new virus related to viruses causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) caused by SARS-Cov-2. COVID is the name given to the infection (“CO” coming from the name Corona, “VI” from Virus and “D” from disease hence the name COVID).  Several containment measures were undertaken to slow or stop the virus from causing potential death, economic and social devastation. According to the Coronavirus world report of May 2020, Africa had 143,769+ confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 4,092+ associated deaths. The Case Fatality Rates (CFR) was 2.9%. The global CFR was 6.0% (as compounded by rates in the USA – 5.8%, Europe – 8.6%, and Brazil – 5.8%). To contain the spread, African countries implemented partial to total lock-down(s), “this is a state of isolation or restricted access to a specific geographic area.” Despite these measures, the virus is increasing exponentially.

Our limited testing capacities

Inasmuch as the testing capacity for corona virus is insufficient, evidence shows that the virus has permeated the continent silently and it is in too deep; the core of the community. To win the war on COVID-19, lock-downs may not provide the much-needed solution. Containment strategies rely heavily on the identification of infected persons through testing for other measures to be initiated. Strong diagnostic stewardship ensures there is adequate, well-trained laboratory personnel to test, test and test in the “mantra” Track, Test, Isolate, and Treat . The African governments need to:

  • Recruit and Train Laboratory Workforce

Many African countries undervalue the role laboratories play in the healthcare delivery system. Deliberate efforts must be made to increase the capacity to test by hiring laboratory personnel to provide this service with the change of tact to roll out mass testing. The continued evidence that the virus is spreading rapidly is seen with the increase of infections even with the measures in place. The governments on the continent has overlooked recruitment in diagnostic units for far too long and this presents a wake up call to action

  • Decentralize Testing to Regional Levels

The rate of testing on the continent is not commensurate with efforts to identify the infected persons for containment measures to follow. South Africa has performed 11 tests per 1000 people, Ghana is 2nd with 6 tests per 1000 people, Senegal has managed to process ………while Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has conducted 0.29 tests per 1,000 people. This is woefully low! in a continent of a population of 1.4 billion people. There is urgent need to decentralize testing from the national reference laboratories to the regions The decentralization enhance efforts to reach more people and provide near accurate surveillance data. This data will then provide an opportunity to be interrogated and inform better containment strategies.

  • Actively Involve the Private Sector Laboratories

The private sector has an already existing infrastructure for HIV/AIDS and TB diagnosis. The need to institute the Public Private Mix and involve the private and research laboratories to enhance scale-up of testing cannot be over-emphasized. Governments have an opportunity to grab this low-hanging-fruit and synergize its efforts in scaling the diagnosis for COVID-19.

  • Locally Manufacture Test kits

There have been global shortages of logistics used in testing. There is a need to support efforts to manufacture locally all supplies utilized in testing for COVID-19. Innovations or locally manufacture test kits using local engineered technologies and other logistical supplies such as naso-pharyngeal swabs, Viral Transport Medium. Technological efforts reported in Senegal and Kenya should be advanced and shared for Africa to become self-reliant.

  • Laboratory Infrastructure and External Quality Assessment (EQA)

The diagnostic role played in COVID-19 is insurmountable. There is a need to invest in a standardized tiered laboratory network. This allows for oversight, strategic plan implementation, and provides an opportunity for EQA.

The efforts to identify COVID-19 cases must be complemented with robust systems to isolate, and vigorously trace contacts by the surveillance teams. The surge of people in the streets is compounded by the low-income market-like economies! In these circumstances, the war on COVID-19 will only be won by TESTING and providing social safety nets. Governments have to actively communicate the risk of transmission, for people to take personal responsibility and implement infection prevention and control strategies.

PS: The Role of The Streets in Infection Prevention and Control

Restrictions are being eased due to inability of the African economies, which are largely market in design, to cope with the demands to provide food for its populace. Needless to say, is how Africa’s populations are responding by going back to normalcy! The surge of people getting back on the streets as witnessed in Nigeria, Rwanda, Cameroon, South Africa, Ghana, the return to normalcy in the streets of Nairobi; the courts barring of restriction in Malawi and the adamancy of Tanzania and Burundi to take precautions, so worrying! is in my view reckless!

People disembarking the ferry and Men playing a game of cards on an alley without face-masks

This poses great danger to the gains made in the last 3 – 4 months on the war on COVID-19. The decisions made to ease restrictions should be data informed (driven) and should balance between reviving the economies and stopping the spread of a pandemic using accurate epidemiological data to avoid catastrophic consequences. The role of the public in following expert advice from health officials is not only very crucial in preventive strategies but also critical in contact tracing for people exposed to the virus. Concerted efforts should be made to:

  1. Develop and enforce workplace and school policies to mitigate the spread
    • Have a COVID-19 test negative status before reporting back to work or business
    • Return to school guide, including transport, class attendance, and sports
  2. Strengthen infection prevention and control policies to ensure that Masks are worn in public, social distancing is observed, good cough etiquette, and Mask disposal regulations and sanitization
  3. Strengthen public’s COVID-19 suspected case reporting mechanisms. There is a need for use of technology to track and trace contact on infected patients, constantly review achievements on the available Health or data information platforms that can be updated remotely to inform the next steps

The health systems in many of African countries is fragile and may not be able to handle the pandemic if the trends in the US, Europe, and of late, Brazil is anything to go by. Governments should prepare to handle large numbers of new cases that are expected with the increase in testing.

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