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Sperm Health and Self Care

It’s easy to think that self-care is all about face masks and bubble baths. But the truth is, self-care is anything that supports your physical and mental wellbeing. In many cases, the very things that qualify as ‘self-care’ can have a positive impact on your sperm health too! 

Here are 5 top tips for self-care for sperm health – and if you want to throw a face mask or two in for good measure, there’ll be no judgement from us. (Although maybe go easy on the bubble baths – sperm aren’t huge fans of hanging out in hot water for extended periods of time…) 

5 ways to improve your sperm health through self care

 

Find your zen

Relaxation is the cornerstone of self-care – and making time to chill out has never been more important. Whilst the pandemic has brought a whole new level of stress to our daily lives, if you’re embarking on a fertility journey, that too can be its own emotional rollercoaster. 

Learning – and practising –  healthy coping mechanisms for times you feel your cortisol rising will have a positive impact on your relationship, general wellbeing – and potentially your sperm.   A lot of research is being done into the link between stress and male fertility, and a study from Columbia University found that men who are stressed are more likely to have a lower concentration of sperm. The research indicates that high levels of stress can lower testosterone levels and also oxidative stress – which can damage sperm quality.

Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises are all great ways to de-stress, but it’s really about finding out what works for you. Whether it’s reading a book, chatting to a friend or just making a mindful cup of tea, it doesn’t matter. Discover effective methods that help you relax and ensure you make time for them each week – your brain (and your balls) will thank you for it.  

Catch those Zzs

A good night’s sleep should be a part of everyone’s routine and not an indulgent act of self-care. However, with 1 in 3 adults saying they struggle with their sleep, it’s clearly a luxury not all of us are enjoying. 

A lack of sleep has been linked to an extensive list of conditions –  including heart disease and diabetes – and can also have a huge impact on our mental health. We all need to make sure we’re getting enough quality sleep each evening – but it’s especially important if you’re hoping to become a father someday soon. 

Men produce testosterone whilst they sleep, so if you aren’t well-rested, this production could slow up – which could have a knock-on effect on your fertility. Last year a Danish study indicated that men who get 8 hours of shut-eye a night were almost 3 times more likely to have healthy sperm compared to men who got less than 7. 

The key to quality sleep is a calming evening routine – making it the perfect opportunity for some self-care. Turn your phone off, try some sleepy Yin yoga and get acquainted with lavender oil – we guarantee you’ll sleep like a baby (and potentially improve your chances of making one!) 

 

Get Outside 

A walk around the block might not sound as exciting as a spa day, but getting outside each day is an important part of self-care. You’re moving your body, stepping away from screens and getting fresh air in your lungs – it’s the easiest self-care trifecta going. Time in the great outdoors is obviously great for our physical and mental health – but it could also improve your sperm quality too. 

Vitamin D is a key vitamin for fertility. Studies have found that men with vitamin D deficiency had significantly lower sperm quality and count than men with good levels. Whilst you can top up your Vitamin D, through food, one of the best natural sources is sunshine. Granted, we may not always have enough sun during the winter months, but even an hour outside on a cloudy day is going to do more for your Vitamin D levels than spending another lunchtime hunched over your laptop. 

If you feel like your Vitamin D levels need an extra boost, you can also think about supplementation. Vitamin D supplements are available from most good health shops and you can even find it in our ExSeed Multi-Vitamins!  

 

Sexual self-care 

If you’re rolling your eyes at the concept of self-care – what if we told you that sex qualifies as a bonafide self-care activity? Sex is exercise, a stress reliever and creates a great bond between you and your partner – it’s ticking all the boxes and, let’s face it, is more fun than a yoga class. When we climax, our mind is flooded with feel-good hormones like endorphins and oxytocin – which are brilliant for mental wellbeing.   

If that wasn’t a reason enough to chill out by getting it on, regular ejaculations can do wonders for your swimmers. If your sperm hangs out in your balls for too long, the motility can take a bit of a dip. We recommend aiming for 2-3 orgasms a week to keep your sperm healthy – so make sure to schedule some sex into your self-care routine.  

If your partner isn’t available/into it when the mood strikes you, the good news is that self-love also doubles as self-care. Studies have shown that masturbation can be an effective way to destress and improve our mood and even encourage a good night’s sleep – so there are a bunch of benefits for both you and your sperm – even if you’re flying solo.   

 

Digital Detox 

Are you ashamed each time you get your weekly screen time report? You’re not alone. 62% of adults say they hate how much time they spend on their phones  – and yet our digital addiction is increasing year on year. Whilst we’re not suggesting you go totally off-grid, making sure you get some quality screen-free time each week is great for your mental health – and could be good news for your swimmers too. 

Millennials have grown up with our phones, tablets and laptops rarely out of reach – which could potentially be contributing to the decline in sperm health. When our phones aren’t in our hands, they’re usually found in our trouser pockets – aka right next to our balls. Research indicates that prolonged exposure to the radiation our phones give off could significantly decrease sperm motility and even lead to DNA fragmentation. Our phone isn’t the only digital destroyer of sperm. If you spend a lot of time with your laptop on your lap, the heat the battery kicks out could kill your swimmers, as they tend to thrive in cooler conditions. 

Give your mind – and balls – a break from constant scrolling and commit to some screen-free time each day. Your self-care routine can be anything you want it to be – but it should definitely be phone free.  

 

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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.