When we talk about infertility, we often focus on women—after all, we’re the ones that carry the baby. But conceiving is a two-way deal. It takes a sperm and an egg to make a baby. In fact, approximately 30 percent of all infertility cases are the result of male infertility solely. So men’s role in conception, and their ability to conceive, is just as important as women’s. That’s why the results of a new analysis are extremely alarming. The data, published in the journal of Human Reproductive Update, shows that sperm counts among men in Western countries (North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand) are dropping substantially, and have been for the last several decades. The even bigger concern is that this decline doesn’t seem to be leveling off any time soon.
What is sperm count?
Sperm count remains the gold standard of testing to determine a man’s fertility. It’s the process of evaluating semen and the sperm contained within it. Also known as semen analysis, a doctor will check the amount and thickness of the semen, the number and concentration of the semen and the sperm’s motility, the percentage that are moving (yes, sperm is alive, folks!). In general, somewhere around 30 percent of a man’s sperm should be moving an hour after ejaculation.
Why sperm count matters
The results of this study are a big deal. Though it’s not the first study of its kind to analyze sperm data, it’s the first ever meta-analysis on the subject, which basically means several studies went into the outcome of this research. It begs the question: Why are sperm counts dropping? While we don’t know for sure, we do know that our modern environment plays a role. But we also know what we’ve known for decades: Diet, exercise and general lifestyle habits matter big time when it comes to fertility in both men and women. And we women have our own set of rules to achieve lasting health, which you can read more about in my new book Super Woman Rx!
How men can boost their sperm count
If you’re a woman reading this, and trying to figure out how you can help boost your man’s sperm count and keep him healthy overall, tempt him with this bit of info: an increased sperm count will most likely boost his sex drive. What man will say no to a little all-natural libido lifter? This list probably won’t shock you, but it’s worth checking off each and every one of these to ensure you and your partner have a fighting chance at babymaking.
What you put in your body (and your man’s body) is so important to your overall health—and it’s often directly linked to your fertility. A 2013 Harvard study found that eating less processed meat had better sperm quality than those who ate between one and three servings per day. The best lean protein for his boys? Seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon, bluefish or tuna. Seafood-loving men had 34 percent higher sperm count than those who ate less fish. In addition, I recommend eliminating refined carbs, reducing sugar intake and avoiding too much dairy.
Lifting weights might make your man feel manly, but it does more good for him than boost his ego. In fact, that very same study mentioned above also found that exercise, particularly weightlifting, was linked to higher sperm counts. It’s worth pointing out, however, that bicycle riding was linked to decreased sperm count, likely from the pressure the bike seat places on his precious jewels.
Just as diet is important, so is ensuring that you’re getting your daily fill of vitamins and nutrients to give your man’s swimmers the boost they need. The supplements I always grab for men tend to be omega 3, probiotics and vitamin d, as well as zinc if boosting testosterone is the goal. You can also consider adding in CoQ10, vitamin c and folate.
Especially if your man is not yet a daddy, he might be more up for a post-work happy hour or guys’ weekend. But drinking too much has an impact on fertility, as well as general health. One study published in the British Medical Journal found that just five alcoholic drinks a week (and that’s not even that much!) could reduce a man’s sperm quality. Overindulging in alcohol increases fructose intolerance and insulin, which is already an issue for everyone because of the hybridization of our food. Smoking is also a no-no.
Have Less Sex
I know this one seems contradictory, especially if you’re trying to have a baby, but it’s a fact that the more sex a man has ( masturbation counts too!), the less dense his sperm will be. If you want to put your best foot (or member) forward when it comes to babymaking, be mindful of how many times you guys are getting it on. And, of course, try to coordinate it around when you’re ovulating!
Beat the Heat
From his laptop that is…There’s truth to that rumor you’ve heard about the letting a hot laptop sit on a man’s crotch region for too long. The same goes for tight underwear or pants—let his boys breathe! Also try to avoid spending too much time in hot tubs or saunas. His testicles prefer a temperature of about 2 degrees less than his body temperature (around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).