The causes can be immunological, genetic or anatomical factors but there are also external factors that we can, to some extent, control. Highlighting the main common reasons for poor semen quality can help us to make improvements.
Here are five ways of improving your semen quality:
1. Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs
Cigarettes are one of the most concerning of all the agents that have a negative impact on spermatogenesis. There are over 4,000 toxic substances in cigarettes including cadmium, nicotine and polycyclic hydrocarbons. Smoking is clearly linked to abnormalities in sperm volume, sperm counts and sperm motility and it leads to an increase in spermatozoon DNA fragmentation.
Drinking large quantities of alcohol and taking illegal drugs are also associated with fertility issues. Men who smoke cannabis have been shown to have a decreased number of spermatozoa and decreased sperm mobility. Heroine is associated with sexual dysfunction and amphetamines and other designer drugs lead to a decrease in the number of spermatozoa, poorer mobility and a decrease in the overall pregnancy rate.
2. Temperature control
The position of a man’s testicles in the scrotum, anatomically separated from the abdomen, means that they are around two degrees lower than a man’s general body temperature. This is necessary for correct semen production. There are certain pathological situations in which there is an increase in testicle temperature. For example, when a man has swollen veins in his testicles (varicocele) or when testicles fail to descend from the scrotum (cryptorchidism). There are surgical solutions to these issues but semen quality is not always recuperated.
Certain situations can lead to an increase in the temperature of a man’s testicles and some of these can be avoided. For example, taking hot baths; using a Jacuzzi; wearing very tight and not breathable underwear; and frequently doing sports such as cycling that cause friction around that area of the body.
Regulating activities such as these helps to ensure that the temperature in the testicles is correct and improves semen quality.
3. Ensure you visit your doctor
Some illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity can affect normal hormone balances in men (low testosterone and SHBG levels, for example). This can lead to a decrease in semen parameters such as volume, concentration, motility and morphology.
Visiting your doctor and having regular check-ups can help ensure early detection.
4. Follow a healthy diet
Antioxidants are naturally present in semen and they help to maintain good levels of semen quality. However, it has been demonstrated that some men with poor semen quality have lower-than-normal levels of antioxidants in their semen. It has been shown that daily consumption of foods that are high in antioxidants (fruit, green-leaf vegetables, whole milk, vegetables and so on) can increase the number and mobility of spermatozoa.
Choose natural foods over processed foods because the latter can contain pesticides, preservatives and other chemical products that can lead to misalignments in spermatozoa production.
5. Cut back on certain pharmaceutical drugs
Men increasingly take a number of pharmaceutical drugs that can affect fertility. For example, anabolics and testosterone that affect hormones and that are commonly used by young sportsmen. They can cause serious oligozoospermia and even azoospermia. Other medications such as blood pressure drugs and psychiatric drugs can affect the quality of semen, sexual function and hormone parameters.
In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle, these practical pieces of advice could help to improve the quality of your semen.
The urology, andrology and nutrition departments at Instituto Bernabeu in charge of the male factor will be happy to give you personalised guidance on any questions that you may have.