An embryo has 46 chromosomes. 23 chromosomes come from the mother’s eggs and 23 chromosomes from the father’s sperm. The role of the male sperm has been downplayed in the whole fertilisation process. This may be because it is the mother that gets to be pregnant and everything that pregnancy and delivery entails is borne by the mother. But the truth is that sperm plays an equally important role in conception. After that, the mother can do the rest.
There are many things about the male sperm, which few people are aware of. Let us look at some interesting facts about the sperm:
GOOD FOOD FOR HEALTHY SPERM
The food that a man eats influences the quality of his sperm. This is a great way to improve your sperm count and sperm quality. Men who eat salmon, cod and other fish with a high omega 3 content have well-shaped sperm. Increase in DHA levels, which is found in Omega 3 is good for sperm morphology (shape of the sperm). It is also good for sperm motility (movement capabilities). In men who eat fish rich in Omega 3, sperm are more active and have better tail movement, which means better swimming ability. Some foods improve sperm concentration and yet others improve sperm volume. A little bit of study on the foods good for male fertility will give you a list of things that you should include in your diet on a daily basis. Oysters are known to be particularly good for boosting male fertility due to its high zinc content. Vitamin C plays an essential role in protecting the DNA of the sperm from getting damaged. Poor DNA leads to miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities. Fresh fruit can make the sperm into fast and agile swimmer while whole grains increases the sperm count.
Then there are those foods which are not good for you, foods that affect sperm quality and sperm concentration like coffee and processed meats. Junk food should ideally be avoided along with cold drinks.
HAVE REGULAR SEX
For the sperm to stay active and healthy, a man needs to have sex regularly. Men who do not have regular sex tend to have sluggish and inactive sperm. If these sperm are deposited in the cervix, the likelihood of them travelling to the fallopian tubes to fertilise the egg is quite unthinkable. So if a couple wants to get pregnant there is no point just having sex on the fertile days, it won’t help much. Have sex all month long to keep the sperm active so that when it is time for them to fertilise the egg, they are energetic and can find the egg to fertilise. Having regular sex also improves sperm shape.
The lack of sex and not ejaculating on a regular basis can result in oxidative stress. This is a condition caused due to the semen remaining in the body for longer and not being expelled sooner so that fresh semen can be produced. There is a higher likelihood of toxic substance build-up in the semen, which can affect sperm quality. In simpler terms, you end up with stale semen, which is not good for sperm health. When you ejaculate regularly, fresh semen is produced.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY
There have been many studies regarding the effects of wireless technology on the sperm, is not just from the mobile handsets that are constantly receiving and transmitting wireless signals but also from notepads and tablets that are now also operating independently on the wireless technology. There have been many warnings about carrying a mobile phone in a pocket around the pelvic area as this could affect fertility by damaging sperm quality..
The electromagnetic waves cause the formation of harmful free radicles in the body, which in turn causes oxidative damage. The sperm can get affected in a number of ways. The most common being sperm immotility where the sperm become like paralysed structure unable to move. The electromagnetic waves also affect the DNA structure and integrity of the sperm. This could lead to miscarriage or chromosomal abnormalities resulting in pregnancy failure.
Precautionary measures for sperm damage by electromagnetic waves include not putting the laptop on the lap and working. A man will do himself a lot of good if he keeps his phone away from his body and not on his physical self. Putting the laptop on a table rather than the lap is advisable to protect the genital area from getting heated up.
SPERM ENERGY FROM PROGESTERONE
The sperm are very tiny little things and not visible to the human eye in the natural. The journey from the cervix to the fallopian tubes in proportion to the size of the sperm is exceptionally long. For this long journey, a sperm needs a good boost of energy to continue swimming at full throttle.
Progesterone is a female hormone which is released by the ovaries after ovulation. When the sperm encounters some progesterone, it gets a good boost of energy. Once the sperm find the egg, they beat their tails against the outer shell which helps to weaken it and enable the sperm to penetrate the egg with their heads.
The sperm are designed in a manner to have a superpower. When sperm meets the egg in the fallopian tubes, it releases an enzyme from its head called acrosome. This enzyme helps to dissolve and weaken the outer shell of the egg, and the sperm is able to crawl inside the egg. The plasma membrane of the egg fuses with the plasma of the sperm, and at the same time, the sperm detaches its tail. The fusion of the egg and sperm forms an embryo, and a new life is born.
BODYGUARDS FOR SPERM
When the sperm are in the testes, they are prone to attack from various free radicals and other things. Sperm contains only 23 chromosomes, and hence the immune system in the body also views it differently. At times the sperm may be prone to attack from the immune system as it does not recognise the sperm to be a part of the body with their different DNA structure. For their protection, sperm have special bodyguards who are protective cells. These cells create a protective barrier for the sperm in the testes to prevent them from being attacked by the immune system and other substances.
SPERM CAN LIVE FOR MANY DAYS
Once the sperm have been ejaculated, they can live for up to 5 days inside a woman’s body. Generally, sperm live for about two days, but some of them can go on for even 5 days with the right conditions. For fertility treatment like artificial insemination, the IUI procedure is carried out 5 days prior to ovulation, which is to the sperm enough time to travel to the fallopian tubes as well as expecting that the sperm will survive for the 5 days till ovulation occurs.
KEEP THE SPERM COOL
Sperm stays better in cool temperatures. The testicles are usually about 7 degrees cooler than the rest of the body temperature. For healthy sperm, it is better to ensure that the testicles remain cool. Generally, the testicles expel heat through the blood flow. Men should avoid hot tubs and saunas if they want their sperm to remain healthy. Avoid sitting on hot surfaces and remaining in heated environments like furnaces for long periods of time. Men working in brick kilns and in furnaces of manufacturing industries have a greater likelihood of suffering from poor quality sperm. In some countries, men heat their testicles to above 43 degrees Celsius as a form of contraception. This damages their sperm and prevents them from being able to make a woman pregnant.
Men need to ensure that they do not wear very tight briefs as this prevents air circulation around the testes, which is necessary to keep them cool. Loose shorts are a better option than briefs where fertility is concerned. Men who wear loose trousers over tight jeans are protecting their fertility.
NEGATIVE LIFESTYLE HABITS IMPAIR SPERM
Smoking cigarettes is damaging for the sperm. It causes poor sperm morphology. This means your sperm become deformed and have an abnormal shape with the nicotine intake. Smoking marijuana is equally bad as the THC can hamper the hormonal imbalance related t fertility in the body as well as lead to abnormally shaped sperm. Abnormality of the sperm shape can mean a deformed head shape, crooked tail, double tail, short tail and other weird deformed shapes for the sperm. These abnormal sperm have impaired movement similar to a deformed human being.
Drinking alcohol and coffee leads to a lower sperm concentration and may also cause chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm. These negative lifestyle habits raise the risk of having a child that is born with birth defects.
SLUGGISH SPERM IN OBESE PEOPLE
Sperm respond to your behavioural pattern. While obese people may be sluggish in their movements, the sperm of obese people are also sluggish in their movement. It has been noted that people who are active have sperm that are active while people who are lazy tend to have sperm that behave in a similar lazy manner. Your sperm behave the way you do. So if you want active sperm, get active. For a successful pregnancy, you need active sperm.
The male body is constantly producing new sperm. Men produce about 12 billion sperm in a month. Men who have poor quality sperm can work at improving their sperm quality within a matter of months by cleaning up their lifestyle and switching over to a healthy diet. Sperm generally have a 75 to 90 day turnover from the time they are produced to maturation. So every 90 days you have new sperm. If you have been on a healthy routine for over 90 days, you can be sure that the quality of your sperm has improved too.
VEGGIES AREN’T ENOUGH FOR SPERM
Vegetarian men have been found to have poorer quality sperm than those who eat meat. Some research shows that while only a third of the vegetarian man’s sperm are active, about 60% of a meat eater’s sperm are active. Meat is exceptionally high in proteins and a few other substances that are good for sperm quality. Fish has omega 3, shellfish, especially oysters, are high in zinc and really good for sperm production.
DECLINE OF SPERM QUALITY WITH AGE
Though the male sperm is not like the female egg with a specific timeline for declining with age, as a man grows older, his sperm quality does deteriorate. This does not mean that an 80-year-old cannot father a child, but his sperm may not be as potent as that of a younger man. There is no cut off time for men to totally lose their fertility. More often, men suffer from erectile dysfunction as they get older, which inhibits their fertility sooner than the decline in sperm quality.
SPERM DNA DAMAGE WITH ANTIDEPRESSANTS
Antidepressants can have a very negative effect on sperm. Men who are taking antidepressants are not just causing their sperm harm with depression, but on top of that, the medication is totally ruining the sperm. Some anti-depressants are more harmful to sperm than others. In many cases, anti-depressants have damaged the DNA structure of the sperm. Pregnancy with these damaged sperm can lead to genetic abnormalities and birth defects.
DEALING WITH POOR QUALITY SPERM
Male fertility depends on sperm and its quality. Couples who are struggling to have a baby very often come to a point where a semen analysis test is performed to check if the male sperm matches up to the fertility requirement. There are many areas in which sperm can fall short. The shape, size, its ability to move and swim in a forward direction are some of the important criteria based on which the sperm is judged.
Advancements in medical science in the reproduction domain has enabled doctors to manipulate the manner in which conception takes place and provide help in areas where the egg and sperm are struggling to get the job done. Science has gone to the extent of fertilising the female egg and the male sperm in a glass dish and then placing it back in the female womb to grow naturally.
There are many ways to help couples with poor sperm quality to conceive and have a biological child. Fertility clinics like Medicover use different advanced fertility treatment techniques to address varying problems.
MEDICOVER FERTILITY SERVICES
Fertility has come a long way over the last decade, and each day, there are new findings of ways in which to help couples with getting pregnant. Medicover Fertility Clinics in India provide a high-quality fertility service, which is of an international standard. Medicover uses advanced technology fertility treatment to ensure a successful pregnancy for despairing.
Medicover is a reputed fertility clinic with a very high success rate. Many couples who are not able to conceive or have had poor experiences at other fertility with failed treatments seek solace and successful treatment at Medicover. Medicover offers couples a Baby Plan. The Baby Plan is a blueprint of the treatment stages and the manner in which the doctors will work towards the success of the fertility treatment. It includes different stages based on how the patient responds to medication and treatment. Alternate treatment options may be incorporated into the Baby Plan along the way. The concept of the Baby Plan is to go home with a Medicover baby at the end of the treatment. Medicover delivers a baby every 3 hours around the world. This is the success rate they hold with pride.
The deepest desire of every couple that walks into Medicover Fertility Clinic is to have a baby at any cost. The medical team at Medicover put in their best effort to make this desire into a reality.
Q: I work in a manufacturing unit where the temperatures can get quite high. I recently got married. Will my job affect my fertility?
A: Have a semen analysis test to check the quality of your sperm. When planning a baby, try and stay away from the heated environment for 4 or 5 months prior to trying. This will help to improve the quality of your sperm a little.
Q: Can toxic gases affect fertility. I work in a factory where we use a lot of chemicals.
A: Toxic gases do affect the sperm quality and can also affect the DNA structure of your sperm.
Q: I was on antidepressant medication for 5 years due to personal problems and have recently got married. Is it safe for me to have a baby?
A: Ensure that you are off the anti-depressant medication for at least a year before planning a child.
Q: Can taking painkillers affect my sperm?
A: Yes, all over the counter medication have side effects, and many of them affect sperm quality. It is advisable to have a semen analysis test to check your sperm quality before trying for a baby.