In today’s world, when everything is happening super fast and more responsibilities have crept up, more people are suffering from stress and fatigue than they did just a couple of decades back. This also has resulted in some serious consequences on our reproductive health.
In fact, more than 40% of all couples in India are now experiencing some sort of issues around fertility, thus impacting their chances of conceiving a child. And 50% out of that is due to some issues with men, especially their sperm health.
To clear the air around the topic, we have answered some frequently asked questions related to the topic.
What is sperm health?
Sperm is the male reproductive cell required to fertilize a female egg to create an embryo and have a successful pregnancy. The sperms are produced by the testicles present in a person’s body.
Generally speaking, sperm health refers to the potential or the capacity needed to fertilise the egg.
It is characterised by various factors such as:
- Quantity (Sperm volume): A normal ejaculation contains about 15 million sperms per millilitre. If the count is less than that, it leads to problems in getting your partner pregnant as there are fewer candidates to fertilise the egg.
- Mobility (Motility): For the sperm to fertilise the egg, at least 40% of your sperm should be moving and wriggling to go through the cervix of the partner and reach the egg.
- Structure (Morphology): The structure of the sperm contains an oval head and a tail. The tail of the sperm helps in mobility. For conception, the quality and quantity of the sperm matter the most. However, the structure of the sperm also affects fertility.
How does stress affect sperm health?
Research has shown that stress releases steroid hormones which decrease testosterone levels in the body. This in turn also affects the sperm production of an individual. Another report pointed to evidence that prolonged and stressful work environments affect sperm quality in terms of morphology/structure and quantity. Additional lifestyle habits such as smoking, obesity also add to this. However, the exact or direct mechanism through which sperm is affected by stress is not yet known.
How does fatigue affect sperm health?
Often fatigue, sleep deprivation and weakness are thought to be interlinked with low sperm count and subfertility. Research has found that sperm count and quality is lower in sleep-deprived adults as compared to people who followed a fixed and healthy sleep schedule. Moreover, sperm motility was also found to be lower in short sleepers when compared to average or long sleepers.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have also reported that difficulty in getting sleep and work-life imbalance has resulted in other sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, lower libido and problems in ejaculating.
Ways to improve sperm health
Some ways through which you can improve sperm health are:
- Meditate and practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, exercising, and running.
- Maintain a healthy weight and healthy BMI (Body Mass Index)
- Avoid taking substances like drugs or alcohol. These substances also possess other health risks and also affect your fertility in the long run.
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, carbs, protein, vitamins and mineral-rich food like nuts.
- Talk with your doctor before going on any medication if you think it's going to affect your sperm health or fertility.
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