Male fertility? Do men have a biological clock?

The risks to female fertility are all fairly well known, but what about our men folk? How much do we really know about the effects of our busy urban lives on the respective family jewels? Believe it or not, the modern man is just as vulnerable to fertility problems as his female counterpart!

There are a number of factors that can affect sperm health including lifestyle factors, environmental factors and even our choice in clothing. So what can men do to improve the potency of their punch?

If you’re a smoker, quit! Studies have shown that the concentration, motility, and morphology of sperm is affected by the toxic mixture of chemicals in cigarettes like nicotine, carbon monoxide, cadmium, and other mutagenic compounds [1].

Paternal smoking has also been associated with an increase in DNA damage to spermatozoa as well as higher incidences of birth defects and childhood cancer. And, if this isn’t enough, smoking is also widely recognised as a major cause of erectile dysfunction in men. Yes boys, the more you smoke, the higher your risk of impotence.

Eating a healthy diet rich in zinc and omega 3’s and regular exercise are also winners for the little fellas. Moderating alcohol intake will also alleviate ‘the brewer’s droop’, something most men will experience after a few too many.

Then there’s that invisible monster that is increasingly plaguing our lives; stress. If you’re working long hours there’s a good chance that your mates downstairs may be starting to feel a little out of their depth. Increased stress levels place heavier nutritional demands on the body to cope and sperm are way down the nutritional priority list when stress levels are high.

Environmental factors can also be major contributors to your sperm’s health. Industrial chemicals such as pesticides and synthetic oestrogenic substances that have crept into food can have negative effects on reproductive health. Going organic might not be a bad idea, but if you still buy from the supermarket, it’s essential that you wash your fruit and veggies well before eating them.

Statistics show that looser fitting underwear assists in maintaining optimum scrotal temperature, whilst reducing risks of overheating that can lead to sperm damage. If you’re looking to increase your fertility then it could help going back to the traditional boxer. And those tight jocks that look so good may be doing a little too much smuggling, so make sure you have some down-time in your more relaxed long johns.

But all jokes aside, fertility issues can become at times quite distressing when you’re trying to have children.  Many men even start to feel like what should be an unlimited love fest becomes a job.  If you find yourself in this sort of situation, getting some help from a Sex Therapist can give you and your partner some valuable support.

Reference

1Zavos PM, Correa JR, Antypas S, Zarmakoupis-Zavos PN, Zarmakoupis CN. Effects of seminal plasma from cigarette smokers on sperm viability and longevity. Fertil Steril 1998;69:425–9.