A man’s checklist for healthy semen
How does a man know if his semen is strong and healthy? How would he know if his sperm quality is capable of doing the job it’s meant for? The cloudy, grayish white bodily fluid men ejaculate when having an orgasm, is propelled from the urethra and out of the penis. Seminal fluid is produced by the seminal vesicles, located above the prostate gland at the base of the bladder. Ejaculation is controlled by the central nervous system and occurs due to stimulation of a man’s genitalia and other forms of sexual stimulation. In other words, there’s a lot going on when a man brings forth semen from his body.
The composition of semen
Semen’s composition consists of a viscous, fructose-rich fluid which forms about 65-70% of its’ content. The white color of semen is due to secretion from the prostate gland which contains enzymes, citric acid, lipids, and acid phosphatase forming around 25-30% of the content. At each ejaculation around 200-500 million sperm are released by the testes which forming the remaining 2-5% of semen composition.
Also found within semen is a clear secretion produced by the bulbourethral glands contributing less than 1% of the overall semen composition. This secretion aids in the mobility of the sperm to travel smoothly into the vagina and cervix.
Signs if a man has healthy semen
· Men with a healthy waist circumference
Men should have a waist circumference no more than 40 inches – he does not necessarily have to exhibit a six-pack but keeping belly fat at bay is helpful to good quality sperm.
A 2013 study found that obese men with a waist circumference of 40 inches or greater were 19 times more likely to have low total sperm counts and 15 times more likely to have low semen volumes. The researchers believe that carrying too much weight concentrated in the abdomen may interfere with the release of sex hormones as well as production and development of sperm.
· Men eat fish
Forget processed meat – men who eat fish tend to have healthier semen.
Researchers at Harvard University found men who consumed more processed meat (sausage, bacon, salami, luncheon meat) have significantly lower counts of normal-shaped sperm compared to men who consumed the least amount. In fact, men who ate just one slice of bacon or sausage link a day had 30% fewer normal sperm than men who abstained from processed meat.
Eating more fish appears to have a protective effect. Men eating fish such as halibut, trout, salmon or tuna had a 65% greater sperm concentration than men who rarely if ever ate fish. Thanks to fish’s omega-3 fatty acid concentration, these long-chain fatty acids play a role in sperm production and overall sperm quality.
· Men who wear boxers instead of briefs
A 2015 study found men who wear boxer shorts during the day and go commando at night had significantly lower levels of damaged DNA in their sperm compared to men who wear tight underpants both during the day and at night.
Wearing tight-fitting underwear can result in a 24% lower motility sperm count. For sperm to be successful at doing their job, they need to be fast, agile swimmers. But if their motility is reduced, sluggish sperm will have difficulty in reaching the egg to fertilize it.
Men who wear looser-fitting boxers help lower scrotal temperatures compared to men wearing tight-fitting shorts. The elevated testicular temperatures may also hinder sperm production.
· Men who regularly exercise
Hitting the gym is a great idea for any man but especially so for men who want to conceive. A 2013 Harvard School of Public Health research team found that men who are couch potatoes watching more than 20 hours of television a week have about half the sperm count of men who barely watch TV at all.
Men who kept their bodies moving and blood pumping in moderate to vigorous exercise of 15 hours or more a week had a sperm concentration 73% higher than men who did not work out at that intensity.
Exercise helps by keeping a man’s weight in check which can affect reproductive health but it also boosts the expression of antioxidants throughout the body. The researchers also believe that going to the gym regularly may prevent free radicals from damaging sperm cells.
· Men who don’t smoke or use illicit drugs
Taking a drag on a cigarette can cause low sperm counts and slow-moving sperm. The same goes for men who use marijuana or other illicit drugs. Sperm may be damaged by these drugs and women are more likely to miscarry if their partner uses a recreational drug like cocaine, marijuana, or any type of other typical amphetamines.
Studies have found that toxic chemicals from these drugs damage sperm which then pass altered genes onto the developing baby. The best advice is for men to never take us the habit of smoking or using illicit drugs or to seek help in stopping the use of them at once.
· Men who stay away from toxins
Men who work around a lot of chemical and toxins need to be extra cautious as they can increase the percentage of damaged sperm. Toxic chemicals such as heavy metals, lead, and chemical solvents are examples of toxins that can cause harm to a man’s semen. If a man’s job involves him being around such chemicals, he can limit his contact by wearing a face mask and protective clothing and always using proper ventilation.
Dr. David B. Samadi is a Urologic Oncology Expert and Robotic Surgeon located at 485 Madison Avenue on the 21st floor, New York, NY – 212-365-5000. Follow Dr. Samadi at www.samadimd.com, www.prostatecancer911.com, and www.roboticoncology.com.