Dr. Sun breaks down what sperm count means, why it matters, and how to improve your sperm count.
By urologist and male fertility expert, Dr. Andrew Sun
If you’re TTC or just planning ahead, you’ve probably wondered how you can promote healthy sperm development. Healthy sperm can be determined by examining three key parameters: count (how many), motility (how they move), and morphology (how they’re shaped).
What does sperm count mean?
The amount of sperm in semen is what we call the sperm count. Semen is the fluid that comes from the male reproductive tract during ejaculation, and it contains fructose, citric acid, and sperm (spermatozoa), among other things. Sperm cells only make up about two to five percent of the total semen volume, sometimes less.
Why does sperm count matter?
Having a high sperm count is important if you’re interested in conceiving. Pregnancy begins when a sperm fertilizes an egg— while there’s (usually) only one egg present at a time, there are many sperm competing to fertilize it (like, a lot of sperm). On average, about 200 million sperm are present in every ejaculation. A higher sperm count means a higher chance of conceiving, if the sperm cells are healthy.
Simply put, a higher sperm count generally means a higher chance of conceiving.
How long does it take to produce new sperm
While women are born with all the eggs they’ll have in their lifetime, men’s bodies continue to make new sperm over time. It takes about 64 days for a sperm to fully develop. Meaning, any lifestyle changes such as eating healthier, staying active, etc. will affect the new sperm that your body’s working on producing.
Lifestyle modifications to improve sperm count
- Environmental factors: Some research suggests an association between poor semen quality and airborne pollutants. Of course, it’s impossible to totally avoid all environmental contaminants, but do what you can to prevent unnecessary exposure.
- Alcohol: Excessive drinking can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction, and decrease sperm production. Some research also shows alcohol abuse is associated with sexual dysfunction. This makes switching over to mocktails with your partner during the TTC period even more compelling!
- Diet: Improved semen quality is associated with a diet full of fruits, vegetables, fish, and low‐fat dairy products as the main source of proteins. So the basic guidance is this: try to maintain a healthy diet and avoid too many of the highly processed foods that are so good, but so bad for you. Foods rich in folate can also give you a little boost to increase sperm growth— try adding foods like asparagus, spinach, garbanzo beans, and lentils to your diet.
- Smoking: This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but smoking isn’t good for you. In addition to its numerous other harmful effects on your body, cigarette smoking has proven adverse effects on sperm health and overall fertility in both men and women.
Supplements to improve sperm health
Good nutrition is one of the easiest and most important things you can be doing for your sperm health and may even help to improve sperm count, motility, and morphology. There are several vitamins for male fertility shown to support sperm health:
- Prenatal for him: Formulated with seven vital ingredients, including protective antioxidants, the Prenatal for him supports sperm health parameters including motility, count, concentration, and morphology.
- Omega DHA: A systematic review showed omega-3 supplements may improve semen quality parameters in infertile men, and men seeking fertility treatment.
- CoQ10: An antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals, CoQ10 is a useful supplement for men and women. A meta-analysis of 30 studies found a link between CoQ10 and improved semen parameters, including improved sperm count.
- Healthy sperm can be determined by examining three key parameters: count, motility, and morphology
- Sperm count refers to the amount of sperm cells in semen.
- Sperm cells only make up about two to five percent of the total semen volume, sometimes less.
- A higher sperm count means a higher chance of conceiving.
- Proper nutrition, avoiding toxins, and avoiding excess alcohol consumption can help improve sperm count.