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ExSeed Health's Semen Quality Score

How does semen quality and chance of reaching pregnancy correlate?

We have designed the Semen Quality Score system for our at-home sperm test so you can better understand the quality of your sperm and your chances of reaching pregnancy with your partner. Semen quality is indicative of a male’s ability to reproduce (fecundity), in addition to being linked to overall health [1].

Several studies have shown that the best predictor of natural conception is the Total Motile Sperm Count (TMSC) rather than single parameters such as concentration or motility. Indeed, improvements in TMSC are associated with an improved cumulative probability of conception and shortened time to conception [1-10]. This is why our test focuses on total motile sperm count as this is the indicator that best predicts chance of natural pregnancy – figure 1.

Figure 1 – Estimated conception rates and time-to-conception based on total progressive motile sperm count (million).

ExSeed Semen Quality Score

After carrying out scientific research in collaboration with fertility specialists, we believe the best way to assess a man’s fertility potential is through his Total Motile Sperm Count (TMSC). This is an indicator comprised of the individual parameters of volume of the ejaculate, concentration of sperm cells, and their progressive motility (how well they swim).

Here is a table of the WHO reference values for individual parameters we measure:

WHO-reference-values-table-1

Our At-Home Test accurately measures these parameters and calculates your TMSC, then categorizing the TMSC as either “Below normal” or “Normal”:

table-1

The TMSC indicates how high your chance of pregnancy is, presented as a single figure. Your result will be categorized using the above groupings into “Below normal” and “Normal” for clarity. Figure 1 shows how different ranges of total motile sperm count affect chance of pregnancy.

In the below table you can see the estimated probability of conception per ovulation cycle for three different groups of TMSC:

TMSC-range-with-chance-of-pregnancy-per-cycle-table-ExSeed

A prerequisite for the chance of pregnancy is that you have regular intercourse with your partner on the days when she has her ovulation (fertile window), and provided she has a regular menstruation cycle. If this is not the case, your partner should consult a medical doctor for examination while you focus on improving/maintaining your semen quality. If you or your partner has any medical issues, we suggest seeking a medical doctor prior to “project baby-making” since it could reduce your chances of pregnancy.

For a sperm cell to properly reach the female egg and fertilize it, it needs more functions than what we measure. Go to our Journey of Sperm article to read more about the specific functions.

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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.

Stress

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.

Nutrition

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.

Vegetables
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.

Heat

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.

BMI

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.  

Alcohol

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”.

Age

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.