Biology gave you semen to go forth and procreate. As motivation, they made passing semen highly pleasurable, something we definitely don’t need to explain (although a climax enhancer can intensify pleasure even more. Yes. really). Yet a 2017 study on declining sperm counts in western countries is cause for concern – both for the men living through it and society in general.
The short version: total sperm count decreased by an eye-popping 59% between 1973 and 2011.
That’s a problem for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being it’s harder to conceive. But it’s also a health issue. A 59% drop in sperm count means something’s going on in western countries, be it diet, smartphone radiation, too much Playstation, or all of the above.
So how do you rise above and buck that trend, with super semen that gets stuff done? That’s a conversation you’ll likely want with your doctor. Still, there are some habits that can likely keep your swimmers in fighting form. We’ll get to that. But first, let’s look closer at that study, and the implications it has on western civilization.
Sperm counts have fallen in a very big way. Several studies show this. The 2017 study documenting the 59% drop is a scientific analysis of roughly 43,000 men primarily in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
It doesn’t really cover men in non-western countries.
The findings come on the 25th anniversary of the first study to document declining sperm counts. That study, published in 1992, found sperm counts had dropped by half over 50 years.
Extrapolate a little and we see that trend hasn’t levelled off. It’s become worse.
This has big implications for male fertility, and the broader category of male health in general. It’s harder to conceive, obviously, but the patterns that kill sperm may also lead to higher mortality in these same men.
The researchers say this trend could lead to men dying younger and have more life-threatening ailments – especially cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Your semen is more than making babies. It’s a measure of what’s going on inside of you – whether that’s good or bad.
We still don’t know why sperm counts are declining. But researchers think it’s linked to modern lifestyle factors, like stress, synthetic chemicals, higher obesity, poor nutrition, smoking and less exercise.
Also, some evidence suggests radiation from smart phone and lap tops aren’t doing your semen any favors – especially when near your crotch.
The good news is these appear to be temporary in effect. The bad news is they may also permanently damage a developing fetus. Research shows when an expecting mother smokes, her son has a lower sperm count, whether he smokes or not.
This illustrates the impact of what men are exposed to in the womb. It stays for life.
We’re still unclear whether this declining sperm count will affect male fertility in the future. An observing doctor notes modern guys have 66.4 million sperm per milliliter of semen. That’s down from 92.8 mL about 40 years ago.
And sperm count isn’t the only factor that affects male reproductive health. Sperm quality matters too – consider that roughly 20% of men who conceive without treatment have abnormal sperm. Yet aside from the obvious decline in sperm count, it’s not proof that male fertility is in trouble.
Still, it’s a worrisome trend – one that could lead many couples with fertility problems to seek treatment should it continue.
OK, so sperm counts are declining. Now what? First, sperm makes up just 1% of your semen. But if your semen’s not happy, your sperm isn’t either. Good semen quality has sperm with the following characteristics:
Quantity – More is usually better with sperm count. Think 15 million sperm for every mL of your semen. The more you have, the better your odds of Conception Land.
Movement – Your swimmers need to move, dude. At least 40% of your sperm should live up to their name (and ‘swim’ – see what we did there?).
Shape – Healthy sperm have round heads and long tails that help them move about.
So, sperm counts are down. However, a little TLC for your body may also help keep your swimmers taut and limber. Your semen is a reflection of who you are. Meaning? Roll up your sleeves and take your swimmers to boot camp – the following 6 tips may whip your semen into shape and give you swimmers that want to swim in sexy new places.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? The problem occurs when you partake in processed foods and salt-cured meats like pepperoni and bacon – both of which are linked to lower sperm count and swimmers that don’t want to do their job.
This may be one of the reasons western sperm counts have plummeted over the past four decades.
A Sperm-Friendly diet is a separate article – one we may write in the future. As a cheatsheet, these foods are believed to help sperm quality and quantity. Foods high in vitamin B12, vitamin C, nuts and lycopene are good. Walnuts in particular seem to be good for semen.
Processed meats, grain, dairy, sweets snacks and – wait for it – pizza – are bad. Oh the sacrifices…
Light exercise can help give you better quality semen. That’s the finding of a 2005 study which found low activity and high Body Mass Index (BMI) were detrimental to semen quality and sperm’s ability to merrily do its job.
The key word here is ‘light’. A 20 minute walk, push ups and yard work all qualify. Granted, you probably would also love to get ripped, but keep in mind that intense exercise, like cycling, jogging and mountain climbing, can actually make your semen worse.
This is an ongoing debate. However, a 2016 study suggests it’s over-blown, and that underwear type had no effect on semen quality and sperm count.
That said, a 2018 study found guys who wore boxers had 17% more sperm than guys in briefs. But the researchers cautioned these results are inconclusive for a variety of reasons, from type of pants worn to underwear fabric.
So, boxers might be better for semen, but just slightly – if at all.
Here’s something that’s more conclusive. For better semen, avoid caffeinated soft drinks. That’s the finding of a 2017 review of studies that involved roughly 20,000 men which found soft drinks with caffeine may damage sperm DNA. That can lower sperm count.
Three or more daily cups of caffeinated drinks, be they coffee, energy drinks, or good old soda pop, is linked to higher miscarriage rates. And yes, both parents contribute to it.
While we’re on the subject, go easy on the alcohol too. A 2014 study found our or more drinks a week lowered sperm count and motility. The more you drink, the more they drown.
This doesn’t mean no alcohol. But it does mean cap it at four drinks per week.
Sperm needs minerals and vitamins. While you can get many of these in the sperm-friendly foods we’ve already talked about, a supplement may help too.
Chemicals are common in the workplace and in many house hold products, like air fresheners, plastic dishes and packaging, insulation and pesticides.
Do you like apples? Wash them good – they’re one of the most chemical-laden foods at the grocery store.
Of course, you can’t spend your life in a bubble. It’s darn-near impossible to avoid all chemicals. But make an effort – visit the CDC’s list of chemicals known to affect reproductive health. Some of the worst include lead, styrene and acetone, mercury vapor and dibromochloropropane.
These chemicals tend to be common in factories and industrial settings. But they can be in your home too, including in soaps, body washes and plastic containers.
Also, buy organic fruits and vegetables when possible.
Think about replacing plastics in your house with glass, stainless steel, silicone or even biodegradable plastic. Read the ingredient list of any products you buy, food or otherwise. When possible, replace products that have these offending chemicals with natural products.
Having super semen isn’t easy. But it’s possible with effort, diligence, and an open dialogue with your doctor, who should be your primary source of advice and suggested modifications to your lifestyle.
Stay the course. Your semen will thank you – and so might the sperm it carries, and that really want to spread your seed.