Lifestyle factors make a big difference to the health of sperm, and the good news is that most of it is under your control.
Alcohol – there is no doubt that heavy alcohol consumption has a
deleterious effect on sperm count and function, but moderate drinking
seems to do no harm. If you have a hot constitution your acupuncturist
will advise you to avoid some types of alcohol.
Smoking – all studies have shown deleterious effects of tobacco or
marijuana on sperm. If you are having difficulty giving up, talk to us
about using acupuncture to deal with withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Coffee –a little bit is fine for most men but too much (3 cups a day)
has been shown to damage sperm DNA. If you have a hot constitution,
coffee intake should be limited.
Weight loss – a high BMI (being overweight) is associated with decreased
testosterone and increased oestrogen, neither of which are good for
your sperm count or quality. Now is a good time to start a weight loss
programme. Acupuncture can help control your appetite and accelerate
Sex – frequent sex improves the quality of sperm in an ejaculate, while a
few days abstinence increases the quantity of sperm. If your partner
knows when she ovulates then sex daily around this time is recommended.
If not, then it is advisable to have sex every second day from when the
period finishes and continue for 10 days (or more if your partner has a
long cycle). If libido or performance on demand is an issue speak to
your practitioner about how acupuncture and herbs can help.
Fumes – we know that men exposed to chemicals or fumes at their work
place have lower sperm counts and poorer morphology. Try and limit
exposure at work and at home.
Varicocele and anti-sperm antibodies – a number of clinical studies
have shown the beneficial effect of acupuncture and Chinese herbs in
improving sperm quality and fertility in both these conditions.
Stress – infertility causes stress and in a cruel vicious cycle, stress
has been shown to reduce sperm quality. Manage stress by taking some
time each day to relax or exercise, and make sure you get enough sleep.
Regular acupuncture reduces stress hormones.
Supplements – Seminal fluid needs high levels of antioxidants to protect
the sperm from oxidative damage to sperm membranes and DNA during their
90 day development. Zinc, vitamins E and C, CoQ10, selenium and
carnitine have all been shown to improve sperm quality, as have a number
of Chinese herbs.
Diet – you don’t need to follow any special or restrictive diets; just
eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and have adequate protein. Eat
organic foods where possible.
Clothing – sperm manufacture works better at cooler temperatures (which
is why the testicles are carried outside the body). Hence men are
advised to avoid wearing tight jeans and tight under pants.
Exercise – avoid excessive cycling or prolonged overheating, but otherwise keep up regular exercise.
Mobile phones and laptops – we know that electromagnetic radiation from
mobile phones is associated with hormone changes and that long hours of
use is associated with reduced fertility. Do not keep your mobile phone in the side pocket of your trousers and try to limit its use.
Acupuncture – more than ten separate trials in a number of different countries
have all shown a significant improvement in sperm morphology and
motility after a course of acupuncture. 10 - 15 treatments are given
over a period of 5 – 10 weeks.
You can download advice for maximising sperm health from here.