"What Defines Male Infertility Or
Low Sperm Count?"
The World Health Organization
(WHO) defines a 'healthy' sperm count as:
at least 20 million sperm cells
at least 2 mL of semen volume
(roughly 1/2 teaspoon)
75% or more of the spermatozoa need to
be alive (it's common for up to 25% to be motionless upon ejaculation)
at least 30% of the sperm cells
should be 'normal' shape and form (again, it's common for a high percentage
to be 'irregular')
25%+ of the sperm cells should be
swimming in a forward direction with good speed
50% of the sperm cells should be
moving in a forward direction (ie. not swimming circles, swimming aimlessly,
or irregular patterns, etc)
These are generalized guidelines, and
should never be considered strict rules for male fertility. A male
fertility test should be taken if you suspect low fertility or sperm count, and
will give you an overall seminal health analysis.
Semen is produced in a number of
different glands in your body, including your testicles. The only place
that spermatozoa (sperm cells) are produced is inside the testis. Typically, it takes
around 70 days for one sperm cell to be produced before it travels out of
the testis, and into the epididymis where it is stored until ejaculation.
The production of sperm and semen is
a complicated task, and one that is occurring every day inside your body from puberty until
death. It's a process that requires a number of specific nutrients and
plenty of energy. Taking proper care of yourself is of utmost
importance for good male fertility, especially when you consider the length of
time that it takes to produce each healthy sperm cell.
So, How Can I Increase My Sperm
Don't worry, you're not out of luck
if you are suffering from a low sperm count. There are many things you can
do and eat to increase your fertility.
Simple things like heat can reduce
your fertility. This is the old boxers versus briefs argument, and if
you're wearing briefs (or any tight underwear) it's time to change.
Testicles hang outside or the body for a reason: they perform optimally at a
temperature that is a few degrees below body temperature. By wearing tight
underwear you're forcing the testis against your warm body, which can slow your
sperm production down. Also you should avoid hot baths/showers, sitting on heated
seats, putting a laptop on your lap, or anything else that might unnecessarily raise the
temperature of your groin area.
Eating properly is also important
for optimum male fertility.
You need to provide the semen production process with lots of nutrients, which you can read about in our
nutrients for semen production article.
Recent university studies have been
finding a correlation between overexertion (ie. very heavy exercise) and
decreased male fertility. Exercise is obviously good for you, but just try
to keep it to a reasonable level.
Finally, your overall health is going
to affect your fertility as well. Obesity, poor eating habits, smoking,
heavy drinking, and stress are all factors in your fertility. As with many
things, living with a healthy lifestyle will help you keep your sperm cell
production and fertility at a maximum.