Unlike women who are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, men produce new sperm every day. But similar to women, certain lifestyle behaviors can negatively affect the quality of a man's reproductive goods.
There are three main measures of sperm quality: volume (how many), motility (how well they move) and morphology (how they're shaped). Each of these measures play an important role in sperm's ability to meet and fertilize an egg, and each can be affected by lifestyle choices.
Avoid recreational drugs
Studies have suggested that recreational drugs like marijuana may affect sperm in a variety of ways, including decreasing testosterone levels inside the testicle (where sperm is made), degrading sperm production and restricting blood supply to testicles.
There are a lot of reasons to quit smoking, and sperm quality is one of them. Similar to alcohol, smoking creates toxins in the body, which damage sperm. Smoking has also been shown to play a role in decreasing sperm count and quality, as well as damaging DNA.
Be mindful of hot temperature exposure
There is truth to the rumors that soaks in hot water and laptops placed on the lap can affect sperm quality. Testicles are outside of the body for a biologically good reason: to keep sperm at or below body temperature to maintain spermatogenesis — the process of producing sperm.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, fewer processed foods
Daily consumption of processed foods have been shown to lower sperm counts. The good news is there are many foods that can boost sperm quality. As in many cases, the best diet is one that's full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein from sources like fish.
Stress has been shown to negatively affect many of the body's systems and functions, from heart health to fertility. When cortisol (the stress hormone) is in the body, blood pressure rises, among other physiological changes. Some research suggests that a type of hormone called glucocorticoid, which comes into play in instances of prolonged stress, may be the reason for lowered testosterone levels and sperm quality.
Go easy on alcohol
Alcohol is a toxin that causes oxygen free radicals, which can destroy sperm. It can also hurt the liver. If sperm is a consideration, it's best to limit alcohol consumption.
Last but not least, it's important to note one other factor that can positively affect sperm production: regular intercourse. The less time sperm is in the testicles, the less likely it is to be damaged over time.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Morales about planning for pregnancy for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.