When a couple is faced with infertility, there is a 50% chance the cause is male-related due to poor sperm quality. This means sperm is unable to accomplish fertilisation, either because of low quantity, abnormal shape or abnormal movement.
An average sperm count is between 120 to 350 million per cubic centimetre. A low sperm count is below 40 million per cubic centimetre.
What can affect sperm quality?
A lot of factors can affect sperm quality. An interesting study revealed that there is a general decline that has been going on for a while. It’s a fact: men are getting less fertile! This review and meta-analysis published in 2017 found out there has been an average decline in sperm count of 1.4% per year between 1973 and 2011. Even though we know men are becoming less fertile, the reasons for this happening are unclear.
Men have a biological clock too
Recent studies identified that the genetic quality of sperm, as well as volume and motility decrease with age, which means that older sperm are less likely to result in a successful pregnancy. Advanced age also increases the chances of genetic and chromosomal defects. So, for successful pregnancies and healthy babies, we need to start considering parenthood earlier in life.
Longer periods of abstinence also reduce the pregnancy rate. The key seems to be an abstinence period of only 1 or 2 days. The afternoon seems to be better for sperm quality than the morning. And if you’re collecting sperm for IVF, intercourse seems to provide 70-120% more sperm, with better motility (movement) and morphology (shape) when compared to masturbation. It also generates 25-45% more volume.
Even though men produce millions of sperm every day, new sperm takes about 2.5 to 3 months to fully mature. Even though you may make changes in your lifestyle today, you will only have an effect on your sperms’ health in 3 months’ time. It’s all about making a change and maintaining it! Change can be hard so make sure you get support from your partner, family, friends or a professional coach, to help you maintain the healthy lifestyle.
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