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Our Fertility Status - Erik & Phillippa: Part 2

Eggs with an expiration date and confused sperm

In 2016, after almost a year and a half of trying to get pregnant the natural way without succeeding, we went to see the family doctor again. This time without the lifted finger she said: “so you say almost a year and a half trying the natural way without pregnancy? Well, then we’d better send you for some more examination of your fertility.”

For my examination, I chose a really good gynecologist who I greatly respect. She is both skilled and trustworthy, as she had made a conic section on me a few years earlier.  I was examined with ultrasound and scan of my fallopian tubes (hysterosalpingography). For Erik…a simple sperm sample at the hospital and, as well as a standard blood test.

Within a few weeks, Our gynecologist had some news for us and the conclusion was: My egg production and Erik’s semen quality are very low, very low indeed.

“You are on your way to early menopause.”

“So you cannot wait five years to begin fertility treatment, because then it is not certain that there are more eggs left. And Erik your sperm quality is very low. It’s as if your sperm cells are swimming a little confused in circles without finding the egg. And then there are also many bad sperm cells that block the way for the good ones. You need help.”

“Your numbers as a couple are so bad that you will need to skip the indigenous insemination phases and go directly to IVF treatment (In vitro fertilization)”

Suddenly, we no longer were invincible and what the hell was IVF treatment? I have never heard of women going into menopause in the early 30s. It’s totally insane. Can you do it at all? You can obviously can. It is apparently something that is genetically determined. But it would turn out to be one in 100 things that were obviously wrong with me. And one can’t reverse menopause.

But poor sperm quality: You can change that in three months – GREAT

Many have been through fertility treatment and now have the kids they dreamed of. Why not us? So we jumped right away into the project and thought that now we would get real help. We thought; We will be celebrating our pregnancy soon.

While we were planning our wedding, we also waited for the first consultation in the public health care system. We waited for half a year to start treatment – while waiting, we had summer vacation and our honeymoon. So it was after the wedding in 2017 we started treatment.

Since the summer of 2017, we have been through short IVF cycles, long IVF cycles and also some cycles interrupted.
Today is now more than three years since we got off the birth control pills. IVF, ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection), involuntary infertility and couple therapy are just a few of the new words we have expanded our consciousness with since the beginning of our fertility treatment journey.

For everyone who is at the beginning of their journey with fertility treatments: Kudos to you!

You are about to take a roller coaster ride where everyone around you will have an attitude or an opinion towards your body and your lifestyle. People will no longer look at you like the persons you really are. Compassionate eyes and sympathizing hand on shoulders become common. Either that or people completely avoiding talking to you about starting a family. Everything that you do will basically be considered wrong; Whether you are living and breathing for a baby project, planning to travel, have sex, drink a lot of red wine, stressing or practicing Yoga…

You will definitely manage the fertility journey better than me. I became a -five-year-old when I am being reprimanded by other adult people, my emotions racing. And then met with the unnatural task of voluntarily shooting hormones into my a bit oversized stomach.

Maybe you’re just as cool as Erik. He has an outstanding ability not to be disappointed in advance. Most of the time he is very positive waring a big fat “yes, we can do it attitude” and is certain that everything is going to be all right. Although he also sometimes has temporarily irritation breakdowns.

Breathe, give each other a hug and remind each other that people have even succeeded in having children under massive pressure, that fat people have gotten healthy pretty small children, all our parents have got children without knowing smoking and alcohol was a stupid idea.

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.