Health Factors Affecting Male Fertility


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A study shows that men’s choice of underwear has a negative effect on sperm count and quality. But are there other things can affect men’s sperm? According to Dr. Serena H. Chen, a fertility specialist at Saint Barnabas Medical Center:

Alcohol. Danish researchers in 2014 found that drinking just “five units” of alcohol (a large glass of wine is about three units) every week can negatively impact men’s sperm, according to the study published in the medical journal BMJ Open. However, the most detrimental impact of alcohol came from men drinking 25 units or more. Those who drank more than 40 units a week had a 33 percent lower sperm count.

Obesity. One of the most detrimental health issues when it comes to sperm is obesity, Chen said. A belly that may overhang can insulate the testicles, and raise the scrotal temperature “because your testicles are not hanging free.” But beyond that “mechanical issue,” as she describes it, being obese can also “raise estrogen levels and lower testosterone.”

Second-hand smoke. In addition to women smokers damaging their eggs, Dr. Chen said cigarettes can also be immensely detrimental to men’s sperm. In fact, a study published in 2007 by researchers from Denmark found that men who were heavy smokers — more than 20 cigarettes a day — had a 19-percent lower sperm concentration than non-smokers.

Marijuana. While you might be getting high smoking weed, your sperm count isn’t. Dr. Chen said men who smoke marijuana also need to be conscious of how it may be impacting their sperm. In a 2015 study, researchers also from Denmark found that “regular marijuana smoking more than once per week was associated with a 28-percent lower sperm concentration and a 29-percent lower total sperm count.”

Cell phones. While she said it’s not definitive, according to a peer-reviewed study by Ukrainian researchers in 2014, “a correlation exists between mobile phone radiation exposure” when it comes to men’s sperm. “Having that phone right next to your tissue could cause issues,” she said.

So what can men do to stop killing their sperm? Dr. Chen said the most crucial time for a man who wants to be a dad to start thinking about his sperm is in the six to 12 months before conception –a period “can affect the health of your sperm, which can affect the health of your pregnancy.”

Therefore, she says, the best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle and to avoid unhealthy practices:

“If a guy is thinking about being a dad, he should get a good wellness check and listen to what the doctors say.”

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