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What Sperm Can Reveal About Your Overall Health

What can perm tell us about overall health?

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If you’re not trying to conceive yet, you might feel like testing your sperm is pointless. But your sperm health can tell you so much more about what is going on inside of your body, even if fertility isn’t on your mind right now.


Highlight Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

Your sperm health is usually a very good indicator of your overall health and well-being. Of course, there are other more obvious signs of poor health – like being an unhealthy weight or struggling with skin issues – but your sperm is another great health marker.

If you are living an unhealthy lifestyle – drinking a lot of alcohol, eating an unbalanced diet and not getting enough sleep – it’s highly likely this will be reflected in your semen analysis. Sperm motility and count can very often be impacted by what we are putting in our bodies and how we are treating them.

If your sperm test results give you a wake-up call to the fact you aren’t living life healthily don’t panic. Sperm regenerates around every 72 days, so improving your lifestyle can often improve your sperm health over a 3-month period.


Hormonal Issues

Sperm production relies heavily on our endocrine system (our hormones) working in harmony. There are a number of hormones at play in our reproductive system – and not just testosterone.

Some of the key male reproductive hormones include:

  • FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormones)
  • LH (Luteinizing Hormone)
  • TSH(Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone)
  • Prolactin
  • Estrogen
  • And yes of course – Testosterone

If any of these hormones are too high or too low it could have an impact on sperm production, so a below-normal sperm test result could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. You’ll need to get a blood test to find out exactly what is going on in your body hormonally – and this is often a sensible next step if you are struggling to conceive or to improve your fertility through lifestyle changes. You can read more about male reproductive hormones here and the signs and symptoms of low testosterone here.



There are many types of infection that could interfere with the production of sperm and result in poor semen analysis. In fact, 15% of male infertility cases are caused by infections associated with bacteria. It’s not just your sperm count and motility that can be an indicator of an infection – yellow or green semen color is a good giveaway too.

Some of the most common infections that cause issues with sperm health are STIs (and you can read more about STIs and male fertility here) – but they aren’t the only ones. Anything that causes inflammation in the body could have an impact on your reproductive system – in both the short term and the long term.

If your sperm health is low, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have the infection now. It could be that you had the infection in the past and before it was treated it caused scarring that blocks the passage of the sperm. But if you are concerned about your sperm health and feel like you could have been exposed to an infection – sexual or otherwise – it’s worth checking this out with your doctor.


Issues with your prostate

Your prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that lives underneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces a fluid that makes up around 20% of your semen and this fluid is full of things that help support sperm health – like enzymes and zinc.

If your prostate is not functioning properly, this can have an impact on your fertility and your sperm test results. It’s more common to experience prostate-related health issues as you get older, so if you are over 40 and are confused about your sperm health it might be worth talking to your doctor about conditions like Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and Prostatitis (Inflammation of the prostate).

The other way the health of your prostate could impact your fertility is if you have or have had prostate cancer. Cancer itself as well as the treatment of it – such as radiotherapy or the removal of your prostate – can have a major impact on your sperm production. You can learn more about cancer and fertility in our interview with Dr Ed Coats here.


Genetic Conditions

Whilst many of the health issues your sperm analysis can flag are resolvable, sometimes it runs a little deeper. There are some genetic conditions that can cause hormonal imbalances and issues with sperm health – such as Klinefelter Syndrome.

These conditions are things you are born with, although they often have limited obvious symptoms. Many men do not find out that they have been living with something like Klinefelter syndrome until they realize there are issues with their fertility. Complex conditions like this can not be diagnosed from a sperm test alone – but if there are no other clear reasons why your sperm health is below normal, it’s something your doctor will investigate.

Discovering you have a genetic condition like this can be very difficult to deal with, but there is help available. You can learn more about Klinefelter Syndrome here and check out our Instagram live with Gareth Andy who shares how he became a father through donor conception following his diagnosis.



Of course, whilst understanding your overall health is a huge benefit of testing your sperm, we know that for the majority of people, the reason they come to ExSeed is to understand their fertility. The ultimate goal of having healthy sperm is to improve your chances of conceiving – but if it encourages you to live more healthily (or uncovers certain health conditions) along the way – that’s a great bonus!

When you test your sperm with ExSeed you not only learn about your sperm motility, volume and volume but you also get access to a wealth of knowledge and experts who can help you improve all parameters. Learn more about our at-home sperm test here!


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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.