Does Your Male Fertility Factor Measure Up?
Boosting Your Sperm Production
The reproductive process is an amazing thing. The ability to create life and the drive to spread one’s seed has resulted in a world population of over 7 billion people (as of 2014). The joining of a single sperm cell with an egg cell is a simple yet incredibly complex process. Sometimes getting a woman pregnant is all too easy – but for some couples it can be a very difficult struggle, and more often than not it’s the male’s fertility and sperm count that get called into question.
Sperm Count or Semen Volume?
Pop quiz – did you know that sperm and semen aren’t the same thing? Of course you did, but for those that want a quick refresher let’s go over a short biology lesson. Sperm refers only to the tiny single ‘spermatozoon’ cells (spermatozoa plural) that swim in male ejaculate which is known as semen. Semen is the whitish fluid a man ejaculates and is made up of a variety of liquid ingredients produced in different glands, as well as the sperm cells. Male fertility is dependant on having both healthy sperm cells as well as healthy seminal fluid for the sperm to swim in.
To help simplify matters, we will divide male fertility into three general categories:
- sperm count – measured as quantity of sperm per mL
- overall sperm cell motility
- volume of semen per ejaculation
According to the World Health Organization, a ‘healthy’ number of sperm is considered anything over 15 million per mL (recently reduced from a prior standard of 20 million). Of those, over 60% must be live and motile and show no deformation (ie. crimped tail/flagella, swimming in circles). And the minimal volume of semen per ejaculation according to the WHO is 1.5mL. As reference, a teaspoon measures about 5mL. Remember that these are the minimal requirements for being deemed a fertile male.
Male Fertility Problems A Growing Epidemic?
With over 7 billion people on the earth, you might think that conceiving children might be a simple accomplishment. Not so, according to studies that have found that 20% to 40% of men living in civilized countries have some form of fertility problem.
Some of the most common causes of poor fertility amongst men are:
- poor nutrition and eating habits
- excess alcohol and smoking
- hypertension and stress
- lack of healthy exercise
In order to find out things like sperm count and other parameters about your semen and sperm, you need to have an analysis of your semen performed by a professional. They will test for some or all of the following parameters:
Semen Volume – the total volume (measured in milliliters mL) of ejaculate in the sample – a typical range being from 1.0-6.5mL
Sperm Count – the total number of sperm (both healthy and deformed, etc) per mL of semen
Sperm Motility and Morphology – measured as a percentage of ‘healthy’ sperm vs total sperm per mL
Total Motile Sperm Count – the final number of healthy sperm per ejaculation (ie. 5.0mL * 20 million sperm/mL * 70% ‘healthy’ sperm = 70 million sperm capable of fertilizing an egg per ejaculation)
Fructose – a measurement of the amount of fructose sugar per mL of semen – fructose provides sperm cells with energy
pH – a test of the acidity or alkalinity of the semen sample – a healthy range being 7.2-7.8 (slightly alkaline)
Liquefaction – a measurement of the time it takes the semen sample to liquify from the gel-like state at initial ejaculation to a runny consistency almost like water – a typical time being 20-30 minutes
White Blood Cells – presence in the semen sample likely indicates an infection of some kind and will need further analysis
Is It Possible To Increase Your Sperm Count?
Absolutely! Many things factor into your sperm count numbers. As we’ve discussed in our section on nutrition for sperm, improving your nutrition can provide huge benefits towards increasing your sperm count numbers. If analysis of your sperm count reveals you have little to no sperm cells in your semen (azoospermia), you may have a blockage in your vas deferens that a medical procedure should be able to help. Quitting smoking and keeping alcohol consumption to a reasonable amount have also shown to improve male fertility in clinical studies.
Keep in mind that sperm count is only one part of the male fertility equation. In terms of fertility you need a good number of sperm, but you also need those sperm to be healthy. Motility, shape, and mortality rate of your sperm all factor into your overall fertility.
In general, try to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat properly, get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and try to keep your stress levels nice and low.
Interesting Articles and News: Male Fertility
Boxers or briefs – why high heat might make you change your underwear. Sperm need optimal conditions for growth and health. Beyond eating properly there are a number of things you can do to provide the right conditions. Find out why boxers beat out briefs every time.
Semen production – how seminal fluid is produced. An interesting article on the science of semen, and what it’s made of. Learn what the individual components are, and what their role is.
Testosterone – how it affects your semen & virility. Find out how the testosterone hormone manages to affect everything in men’s bodies from muscle strength and bone density, to puberty, sexuality, and virility.
Improving male orgasm strength – good orgasms, bad orgasms…they’re not all equal. Find out how to ensure that you have intense orgasms every time.
Premature ejaculation problems – lack of control of your orgasm is a terrible problem to have. Learn why premature ejaculation occurs, how to improve your orgasm control, and which products can help you.
Vasectomy facts – procedures, complications, and reversals. Almost everything you need to know about vasectomies and their effect on your sex life. Don’t worry, it’s not all that bad of a surgical procedure, and in some cases it’s even reversible.