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.
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)
- 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.
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!