Fast, intelligent, and efficient, sperm cells are usually quite lively. Sometimes the quality of the semen needs some improvement.
For example, you may suffer from slow sperm or few sperm cells in semen.
What causes this, and what factors affect sperm cell health? In this article, you will read everything you ever wanted to know (and never dared to ask) about semen.
What is the lifespan of sperm cells?
Sperm cells can survive in the uterus for up to 72 hours.
However, this differs per person; in some men, sperm have a shorter life span.
The excellent quality of the semen, in principle, has more resistance than the sperm, which is less healthy.
As the quality of semen improves, the lifespan of sperm generally increases. Outside the uterus, there is little hope for sperm cells; in a few minutes, they die in glory.
When is semen quality considered insufficient?
Sperm cells go to great lengths to fertilize an oocyte: they travel 17 centimeters into the woman’s abdominal cavity and undergo biochemical changes in the uterus.
And then they still have to be the first to get to the egg. In total, the trip lasts approximately 5 minutes.
Seed cells that are out of shape will not survive this grueling journey.
Some key reasons for poor semen quality are:
- Reduced motility of sperm cells (also called slow sperm or slow sperm) – Sperm is less mobile if only 25% or less of the sperm cells advance.
- A lower percentage of sperm cells in the seeding fluid: Typically, 100 to 200 million sperm are released by ejaculation. In the case of reduced fertility, this number is less than 20 million.
- A different shape of sperm cells: Some sperm cells lose a head or tail or have other shape defects.
There are always some abnormal sperm cells in semen. But if more than 70% of the sperm are different from usual, this may cause reduced fertility.
Although some erection abnormalities can occur, you can improve the overall quality of semen by living healthy.
What is low sperm?
A “normal” sperm count ranges from 15 million to 120 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
If you have less than that, you have what doctors consider a “low” sperm count, called oligospermia.
When you don’t have enough sperm, you are less likely to reach and fertilize the egg, leading to fertility problems.
What is quality sperm?
Even if you have an average sperm count, they still have to be healthy enough to journey from your partner’s vagina to the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes.
If they are not, it will be difficult for you to achieve pregnancy.
There are three ways your doctor can determine if your sperm is healthy or “quality”:
- Quantity – This measures how many sperm you have in your semen when you ejaculate. Remember, you need at least 15 million sperm to have a “normal” sperm count.
- Movement: Doctors call it “motility.” It measures how fast or well your sperm moves to its final destination: your partner’s egg. You need at least 50% of your sperm to move.
- Structure: Normal sperm have egg-shaped heads and long tails.
Sperm use these tails to “swim” toward the egg.
The more sperm you usually have, the easier it will be for them to reach your partner’s egg.
Causes of low sperm
Many things can cause a low sperm count, including past medical problems, age, and your environment.
Your lifestyle also plays a role, affecting your fertility if you smoke or use recreational drugs.
How can I help my sperm?
Fortunately, there can be several things you can do to increase the amount of quality, healthy sperm your body produces.
Exercise – We know that moderate exercise can improve your mood. But it turns out it can also increase your sperm count.
The researchers found that men who exercised at least three times a week for 1 hour showed an increase in sperm count and the number of moving sperm.
Stop stressing out – it‘s easier than it sounds, but go for it, especially if you’re trying to have a baby.
In a study of 950 men, researchers found that men who had more than two stressful events before starting infertility treatment were more likely to have low sperm count and motility.
If you smoke, quit: Men who smoke are more likely to have lower sperm count, density, and motility.
They also produce less semen than men who don’t smoke.
Say no to drugs: Certain drugs, like cocaine and heroin, can affect your ability to get or maintain an erection.
Other drugs, like marijuana, can make it harder to produce sperm.
They can also reduce the motility of your sperm or prevent them from developing typically.
Eat Right: Choosing a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, significantly those high in lycopene, can increase the quality of your semen.
Eating less fatty foods and a little less protein may also help.
A small study of men who drank tomato juice showed that it could make sperm swim faster.
Doctors studied 44 male patients who had low sperm count or motility.
Fifteen men took a pill containing antioxidants every day. Seventeen men drank a can of tomato juice every day. The remaining 12 men (the control group) took nothing.
After 12 weeks, doctors found that men who drank tomato juice had better sperm motility.
Why? Doctors believe it could be lycopene, the chemical that gives tomatoes their red color.
More research is needed, but the reality is that drinking tomato juice costs nothing.
- Take a regular supplement of fertility vitamins, including folic acid.
- Avoid overheating the scrotum: an increase in scrotal temperature (caused by tight underwear for a long time, in the sauna, for example) can affect the production and quality of sperm.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Weight influences estrogen and testosterone levels.
- Those who choose to use anabolic steroids during muscle training (can cause testicular shrinkage).
- Stay away from dangerous toxins (such as pesticides, lead, paint, radiation, radioactive substances, mercury, benzene, boron, and heavy metals)
- Eat well, stay hydrated, and get a good night’s sleep (6-8 hours). Malnutrition and anemia can negatively affect your sperm count per milliliter of sperm.
Following these good practices and behaviors can improve a man’s fertility and should be considered a lot when a couple is trying to conceive a child.
Seek medical help to improve low sperm count and quality. When the level of semen exceeds the number of sperm, it will be a big problem since most of the sperm is in the first drops of ejaculation.
One option is to withdraw the sperm before ejaculation, collect and store your semen, then deliver it to a laboratory for the artificial insemination procedure as long as a reproductive health specialist recommends this last procedure.