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I Just Want to Live While I’m Alive – Lifestyle effects on sperm quality

It’s no secret that there are many benefits to leading a healthy lifestyle. Even small improvements in lifestyle have a correlation with disease and injury prevention, increased energy, enhanced mental health, and much, much more. Since we at have a knack for a very specific subject matter, that’s the one we’ll be discussing in detail here; how living a healthy lifestyle will benefit, in particular, your sperm.

Many aspects of lifestyle have an effect on sperm quality, including its volume, count, motility, and morphology. If you missed our previous post discussing these parameters in depth, including the different tests we perform and what the results mean, you can check it out here. Remember, in the world of cryopreservation, sperm volume, count, motility and morphology are important factors in determining the viability of your sperm sample and whether it has the chance to be used for reproduction post-thaw.

When we use the term “lifestyle”, we’re referring to a variety of components. In no particular order, let’s explore the ones we’ve found to really make a difference in your sperm, and therefore the future of your family.

Nutrition. What we’re putting into our bodies. A diet that’s high in carbohydrates, fiber, folic acid (vitamin B), fruits, vegetables and antioxidants show to correlate with better-quality semen. Decreasing the amount of proteins and fats in your diet is also considered to be advantageous for fertility.

Exercise. A healthy amount of exercise, or roughly exercising for 3 or more times a week for one hour, can help a lot. Men who do so exhibit a higher score in almost all sperm parameters, in comparison with men who exercise more frequently and rigorously. For example, recently a lot of information has come out regarding cycling and its correlation with infertility. It was found that cycling over 5 hours a week has an adverse impact on total sperm count and volume. Also, compared to other athletes, cyclists are more likely to have abnormal sperm and a low sperm count.

Weight. While we’re on the subject of nutrition and exercise, let’s also discuss weight. Being significantly overweight or underweight both have negative effects on sperm. Having a high BMI (body-mass index) is associated with a reduction in sperm concentration and motility. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, obese men are three times more likely than men at a normal weight to present a decline in semen quality. Underweight men, meanwhile, are shown to have lower sperm count and functionality.

Drugs. Here we’re talking both legal and illicit drug use. Men who use tobacco products have a lower sperm count, volume, motility and morphology than those who don’t, and even second-hand smoke can affect fertility. Certain prescription drugs may impair sperm quality while they’re being taken. These include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and antipsychotics. Studies on illicit drug use are harder to come by, due to ethical considerations, yet overall drugs such as anabolic steroids, cocaine, opioid narcotics and long-term marijuana use, all show to negatively impact fertility by decreasing sperm production, or reducing the quantity and quality of sperm for the short term of even permanently. For more information on steroid use and its effects on sperm, you can check out our information page here.

Alcohol. Alcohol use decreases sperm count, volume and morphology. Oligozoospermia, the term for having a low sperm count, is a common classification for men who are heavy drinkers. Also, liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption may lead to fertility issues.

Psychological Effects. There’s an absolutely clear relationship between stress and infertility, yet it’s unclear which comes first. We do know that a decrease in stress levels leads to improvements in fertility.

Cell Phones. Information is still being gathered on whether or not keeping cell phones in our pockets, near genitalia, is harmful to sperm. To date, it looks like there’s definitely a link between cell phone storage and loss of sperm motility/viability. To air on the side of caution it’s suggested to find somewhere else to store your mobile device.

Underwear. Should you really toss out your tighty whities? Maybe, but not because they cause infertility. Studies show there is an effect on sperm by wearing tight underwear or pants, but no difference that was statistically significant.

Taking all the above factors into account, we can see how important lifestyle choices are for the health of sperm and the future of your family. In case of uncertainty, we always recommend speaking to your doctor, yet an unhealthy lifestyle does not necessarily equal infertility. There is always an option to consider, which is one of the reasons we’re here. Freezing sperm is best to do when you’re at your healthiest, especially if you plan to have kids only later in life. But please don’t get too nervous: there are ways to utilize sperm even when sperm volume, count, motility or morphology are low.

NCBI: Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility, Article
NCBI: Choice of underwear and male fecundity in a preconception cohort of couples, Article
WebMD: Boxers or Briefs: Myths and Facts about Men’s Infertility, Article
Livestrong [dot] com: Can Cycling Decrease Fertility in Men?, Article
Mayoclinic [dot] org: Healthy sperm: Improving your fertility, Article
Dailymail [dot] co [dot] uk: Why men should NEVER put their phone in their pocket, Article
Menshealth [dot] com: The Truth About How Your Underwear Affects Your Sperm, Article

Disclaimer: provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The words, views, and other content provided here, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader, or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately.

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