Sperm is the reproductive cell of male individuals. In other words; These are the cells found in the semen that are expelled during ejaculation. It is not always clear whether the sperm is healthy or not. The quality and number of sperm are very important for a healthy pregnancy. So how can sperm quality be understood in men? What are the ways to increase sperm count and quality? Urology and Andrology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ömer Faruk Karataş explained the questions about sperm and its quality.
How to understand sperm quality in men?
Sperm is the name given to microscopic living cells produced by the testicles in men that enable reproduction. The semen released during ejaculation contains sperm. In addition to sperm, the semen fluid contains fluids from the testicles called seminal vesicles, prostate fluid, and fluids released from the glands in the urinary tract, also known as the urethra.
Whether the sperm obtained through sexual intercourse or masturbation is of good quality is the most important factor in determining pregnancy. For this reason, it has always been a subject that has been wondered and researched for a long time. Normally, in order to initiate a pregnancy, the female egg and the male sperm cell must unite. Initiating the fertilization process, it is essential that both cells are healthy and of high quality.
Otherwise, pregnancy either does not occur or the pregnancy ends in miscarriage.
Sperm quality is actually evaluated with a few parameters. In other words, there is more than one element that constitutes “quality”. When it comes to quality sperm, it should actually contain the following elements:
1. Sperm count:
There must be a sufficient number of sperm in the semen fluid expelled during ejaculation. This number has been determined by WHO (World Health Organization) to be at least 15 million in normal healthy men. For values below this number, sperm quality cannot be mentioned.
2. Sperm motility:
One of the most important parameters that emphasizes the quality of sperms, even if they are sufficient in number, is motility. The normal number of sperm present is expected to be actively moving forward and have a certain speed. Because it is desired that the sperm first pass through the cervical canal and move into the uterus, and then find the entrance holes in the uterus, move towards the tubes, find the female egg in the tube and fertilize it.. Insufficient motility or lack of motility in sperms will significantly delay or not achieve pregnancy.
3. Sperm morphology:
Sperms normally have their own special shapes. Normal sperm has a head, neck and tail. All these structures are expected to be of a certain size and volume. Sperms with double heads, small heads, large heads, short necks, long necks, thin necks, thick necks, short tails, long tails and double tails are structurally abnormal sperm. These anomalies are an important factor indicating deficiency in sperm quality.
How to increase sperm count and quality?
In fact, the answer to your question lies in being able to identify what reduces the number and quality. As it is known, despite all medical resources today, it is not known exactly what reduces sperm quality in a significant portion of patients with male infertility, also known as male infertility. However, in patients where the cause can be identified, the number and quality of sperm is increased by eliminating the problem. If we list a few items about common causes and their treatments:
1. Hormonal disorders:
Deficiencies or excesses of some hormones, especially testosterone, which are necessary for reproductive and sexual functions, lead to a decrease in the number and quality of sperm. Because Hormonal evaluation should be performed in patients who are found to have low sperm count. Replenishing the missing hormones and reducing the excess hormone levels will significantly improve sperm quality.
Varicocele means abnormal enlargement of the veins leading to the testicles. Enlarged veins cause circulatory disorders in the testicles. At the same time The accumulated blood in the large veins heats the testicles more and disrupts testicular functions. High temperature prevents the formation of quality and sufficient sperm from the testicles. Surgery is the first option as treatment for patients with varicocele. Today, microsurgical surgery is accepted as the gold standard treatment for varicocele treatment.
3. Undescended testicle
In the womb, the testicles form in the abdomen, and near birth, they move through the abdomen and descend into the bag containing the testicles called the scrotum. In some cases, the testicles remain in the abdomen or groin because they cannot complete the descent process. When the negative effect of body temperature is added, the production of sperm in sufficient number, movement and quality by the undescended testicles is also impaired. For this reason, it is very important to diagnose undescended testicle early in childhood and to lower it into the scrotum by surgical methods.
4. Genetic disorders:
Sperm quality may also be negatively affected as a result of genetic defects that occur at birth during organ development stages in the womb. This group of patients also has the chance to become pregnant and have children if the hormonal disorders are corrected.
Nutrition, exercise, environmental conditions, smoking, alcohol and substance use negatively affect sperm parameters. Generally, an excessively fatty diet and fast-food-style habits negatively affect sperm production. On the other hand, foods and drinks rich in protein and vitamins and with high antioxidant content increase sperm quality and motility. A sedentary life has a negative effect on sperm. On the other hand, sperm quality increases more in those who do regular physical education exercises at a certain pace for at least 5 days a week and at least 20 minutes a day. Undoubtedly, smoking, alcohol and various recreational substances have toxic effects on sperm. It is important for individuals with such harmful habits to get rid of these habits quickly so that they can have children.
How Many Days Does It Take to Produce Quality Sperm?
The birth date of sperm expelled during an ejaculation dates back approximately 72-74 days. In other words, the expelled sperm are first born roughly 2.5-3 months ago, and then, after completing the maturation stages in the organs in the genital area, they gain fertilization potential and are expelled. This information is clinically important because when we start any treatment for our patients who complain of infertility, the treatment immediately has a positive effect on the sperm that have entered the production line, while a period of at least 3 months, on average up to 6 months, must have passed for the production of new, healthier sperm. Couples under treatment are advised to wait patiently for the results of the treatment without rushing.
What are the nutrients and foods that increase sperm quality?
The relationship between reproductive and sexual parameters and nutrition has attracted the attention of human beings for thousands of years. For this reason, it can be said that it is a historical accumulation of knowledge and experience passed on from generation to generation. Foods known to be especially good for sperm:
- Dark chocolate
- goji berry
- Pumpkin seeds
These products are generally foods that are known to be good for sperm count and motility. Apart from these, it should not be forgotten that all foods, especially those containing antioxidants, are good for you. Another thing to keep in mind is undoubtedly the consumed amounts of these foods. Consuming excessive amounts of even foods that are known to have many effects can be harmful rather than healing. The best thing to do is to consume balanced amounts of these products under the supervision of an expert dietitian.