Sperm count is used as a clinical measure of a man's ability to impregnate a woman.
According to WHO Standards, a semen concentration of 20 million sperm per 10 millilitres is considered normal though some men have up to 60 to 80 million. What this means is that men who have sperm count lower than the WHO standard may find it difficult impregnating a woman naturally.
According to experts from Hallmark, sperm count can be boosted by removing or reducing exposure to the underlying causal factors, proper nutrition and other lifestyle changes.
Some of factors that medics say affect sperm count includes sexually transmitted infections (STIs) especially chlamydia and gonorrhea (studies have confirmed that chlamydia is a leading cause of low sperm count), too frequent sexual intercourse, congenital diseases, nutritional deficiencies, use of antibiotics or performance-enhancing, varicoceles, exposure to excessive heat and hazardous chemicals, wearing of nylon underwear, bicycle-riding, excessive exercise and overweight. Other causes include smoking and excessive alcoholwhich experts say affect both sperm count and motility.
Speaking on risk factors, a gynaecologist and Medical Director, Living Spring Hospital, Ejigbo, Lagos, Dr. Joseph Akinde listed too frequent intercourse, alcohol and smoking among many other factors.
“If you are sleeping around with other women, too much alcohol will affect sperm count. One of the things we advise is that men should limit alcohol in-take and the number of cigarettes.”
A fertility expert, Dr Abayomi Adebayo identified occupational risks such as exposing the male organ to heat and toxins, trauma or injury to the penis and congenital factors. “Long distance truck drivers and men who work in paint factories or petrol where they are exposed to toxins are vulnerable to occupation-related low sperm count. Some are caused by congenital factors such as hypogonadism and undescended testes,” he said.
On ways to boost sperm count, Dr. Akinde said it is tied to the underlying cause: “It depends on the cause. If your low sperm count is due to varicoceles, the patient is subjected to an operation to correct the problem. Where the low sperm count is due to infections, if the infections are adequately treated, the sperm count often improves.”
For cases which causes are unknown, Dr Akinde disclosed that the man may have to resort to assisted production. “A large number of them are idiopathic; we don't know what is causing them and is often difficult to manage. However, with a single sperm cell, it is possible to get a woman pregnant through assisted reproductive technique.”
Lifestyle changes that boost sperm count
A diet and lifestyle coach, Monisola Olagbiyan, noted that low sperm count could be a function of acidity (PH) level of the body.“Good sperm can't be found in acidic body. If Urine is 5.2, it is too acidic,” she said.
According to her, it is advisable to avoid or reduce in-take of acid forming food including animal protein such as cow meat, chicken, turkey, refined or junk food like canned and preserved food, fried food and white flour products.
Olagbiyan, also recommends that to boost sperm count,men should work at alkalizing their body (the ideal atmosphere for the sperm is PH 7.5) by eating alkaline- forming food such as green vegetables like lettuce, celery, fluted pumpkin leaves(ugwu), spinach and parsley. She also recommends consumption of vegetable juices such as carrot,cabbage,sweet potato juices for detoxification purposes. This is in addition to proper nutrition.
She adds: “Treat infections. For Libido, take watermelon juice twice daily. Eat three pieces of Cucumber daily, the photochemical is good for sperm.”
She also recommends sperm boosting food supplements: “Take Vitamins - B12, B6, folic acid - 1000mg daily,- Omega 3 - Flaxseed oil, Selenium - 200mg,- CO Q 10, Vitamin E, Vitamin C - 500mg twice daily and Sawpamelto – capsules.”
On other lifestyle changes to make, she advises: “Exercise is compulsory three times every week. Eliminate caffeine drinks, tea. Avoid wearing tight underwear, use boxers instead. Avoid smoking, bicycle-riding and hot bath. Avoid exposure to toxin such as pesticide and carbon monoxide.”
She encourages men who are keen on boosting their sperm count to maintain good relationship with their spouse to help psychological healing and to manage stress appropriately by getting enough rest or going on annual vacation.