There is a global sperm crisis. General semen quality is getting poorer globally according to the World Health Organization (WHO) data over the years.
In Singapore, the number of guys seeking treatment at male fertility clinics has increased by more than 70% in the past few years.
There is no one clear reason for the global decline. However, it has been linked to a wide range of factors such as exposure to pollution, stress and an unhealthy diet.
If you are planning to have children and want to have the best possible outcome for your family, you may be wondering if your sperm is at its optimal health.
Understanding sperm and its characteristics
1. Sperm Count
Sperm count can be associated with a man’s testosterone levels. Testosterone is the male hormone that is responsible for male characteristics such as his appearance as well as sperm production. When a man has low testosterone levels, it can significantly reduce the sperm count.
It is important to note that in a healthy man, over 40 million sperm cells can be released in a single ejaculation. However, only one healthy sperm is needed to fertilise the egg. A higher sperm count does not equate to better health or fertility.
Fun fact #1: Men with one testicle can produce just as much sperm as a man with two testicles. Lance Armstrong survived testicular cancer with just one testicle AND fathered a child through natural means!
2. Sperm Motility
Sperm motility refers to how well the sperm can swim – its ability to travel to the egg. Common causes of poor sperm motility can include varicocele, where there is an enlargement of the veins in a man’s scrotum. It is reversible and treatable.
Lifestyle and environmental factors can also affect sperm motility. Too much heat exposure to the scrotal area and having a job that requires prolonged periods of time sitting (e.g. men who drive for long hours) can contribute to poor sperm motility.
Fun fact #2: Sperms do not swim in a straight line and often end up going around in circles. They rely on a chemical substance produced by the egg to guide them in the right direction. (like Google Maps!)
3. Sperm Morphology
Sperm morphology refers to the shape and size of the sperm. It is important to note that sperm count and sperm motility plays a more important role when it comes to male fertility.
Fun fact #3: Up to 9 out of 10 sperm cells produced by the average male are defective. Common abnormalities include having double heads, having no head or tail etc. As of 2010, the WHO considers the presence of only 4 percent and higher of sperm having normal morphology as the ideal sample composition for fertility.
5 Natural Ways to Turbocharge your Fertility
A man’s body is always producing new sperm. It takes about three months for men to make new sperm, so if you are thinking about giving the best possible head start for your family, it really begins now. The best thing is natural ways to turbocharge your fertility really works.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Both overweight (23-24.9 kg/m2) and obese (>25 kg/m2) body mass indexes (BMIs) in the Asian context have been associated with decreased fertility as well as other adverse health effects.
Obesity not only affects sperm quality but sexual performance as well. Establishing a good exercise and diet regimen is important, a healthy weight loss of 2-4 kg a month is recommended.
On the other hand, underweight BMI (<18.5 kg/m2) is also associated with lower semen quality. Excessive weight loss can result in a lack of nutrients to build healthy sperm.
Very high intensity exercises have been shown to temporarily reduce sperm count. Long-distance cycling≥ 5 hours per week have been associated with lower sperm concentration, possibly due to increased heat around the scrotal area.
With the cycling boom in Singapore amid COVID-19, we recommend keeping your meet-ups with cycling kakis to one to two times per week with a maximum of one hour each time to keep your sperm in top form.
Speaking to a health professional if you have concerns about maintaining a healthy weight range of between 18.5-23 kg/m2 in BMI is a good starting point to help you achieve and maintain your health goals.
2. Improve your diet
Nutrition can both negatively and positively affect semen quality. It has been found that a healthy diet rich in fish, chicken, fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains have a positive impact on semen quality.
The relationship between diet and sperm quality and fertility is far from complete but some broad conclusions have been formed. Increased intake of specific nutrients such as zinc and selenium, coenzyme Q10 and carnitine supplements have been positively related to sperm quality.
3. Stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake
Smoking is toxic to both the sperm and the egg; multiple studies have shown associations with reduced fertility. Smoking is just not good for you. (‘nuff said).
Read more about Singapore’s Health Promotion Board I Quit Programme here. You are not alone.
It is recommended to limit alcohol consumption to 2 drinks a day. High consumption of alcohol has been found to reduce sperm quality and also, it has a negative effect on sexual performance.
Seek help in Singapore here.
4. Keep it cool
Because sperm production is reduced by high heat around the testicles, many myths exist about how to improve fertility by keeping the testicles cool. There is no evidence that wearing loose fitting underwear is helpful.
Sitting in the hot tub or sauna is not likely to affect sperm production and male fertility. However, sitting in a very hot sauna or hot tub)>39°C) for 20 minutes or longer might temporarily lower sperm concentrations and should be minimised.
Ultimately, sperm production is temperature sensitive and its comfort range is about 2-3°C lower than our body temperature – this is why testicles hang out of the body! A simple act of crossing one’s legs can raise the temperature around the testicles by 1°C!
5. Have lots of SEX!
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence guideline on optimal frequency of sexual intercourse aimed at conception is 10-15 times a month, i.e. sexual intercourse every 2-3 days optimises the chance of pregnancy.
In fact, daily sex (or daily ejaculation) has been found to improve sperm quality.
Reducing your stress and anxiety levels could improve semen quality, not only that, it puts you and your partner in a better mood.
BONUS: Consider taking PROfertil®
Assessing your sperm from home
How do you know if your sperm quality is improving?
You need to test your semen.
Semen analysis used to be a very inconvenient process.
But now you can test your semen quality at home.
SIRE’s proprietary semen analysis kit makes it possible for you to produce the specimen in the comfort of your home
No awkward visits to fertility clinics!
Once you have collected the specimen, our courier will collect the sample within a specific time window and deliver it to our partner laboratory in a climate-controlled environment. This ensures an accurate test result.
With periodic analysis, you will be able to track the improvement of your semen quality.
Check out the four-step semen analysis process and book your kit now..
SIRE can help
Here at SIRE, we believe mental wellness plays an important aspect both in (and out) of the bedroom. Couple sex therapy is available, we are here to help.
Assuming that you are doing your best to be fit, healthy and fertile, don’t put yourself under psychological pressure if you haven’t conceived yet.
It takes about 3 months to make and transit the new sperm, so any changes in diet or lifestyle will require some time before improvements are seen.
You will need to have been trying for 12 months to be statistically considered as a couple with problems to conceive.
If you feel that you’ve been having problems with fertility, here at SIRE we offer a semen analysis to check your sperm count and to put your mind at ease. Find out more here.
If you feel that your problems might begin in the bedroom, with your erection, ejaculation or sex drive. Here at SIRE, we’ve got you all covered with our treatments for erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation – book an appointment with us today.