What can you do to improve your sperm count?

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What can you do to improve your sperm count?

A:

If you are found to have a low sperm count, usually no specific treatment or cure is available (unless surgery is required, for example, for a testicular varicocele or tubal blockage). Your doctor may investigate the reason for a low sperm count to eliminate any underlying health conditions. If you are good health, the medical advice will usually be to evaluate any lifestyle changes you can make.

Practical Advice for Men Wanting to Improve Their Sperm

  • Get a general medical evaluation
  • Keep cool; avoid hot tubs
  • Take a multivitamin that includes vitamin C, zinc, and folic acid
  • Don’t take prescription drugs unless necessary
  • Don’t take any illegal drugs
  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine, and eliminate cigarettes
  • Eat fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants such as blueberries and avocados
  • Eat Brazil nuts, which contain selenium, an antioxidant that improves sperm quality. WARNING: Too much selenium is toxic. Watch your intake.
  • Reduce stress
  • Exercise regularly, but use caution with long-distance cycling and contact sports
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Ejaculate frequently, but abstain two or three days before fertility treatment cycles
  • Avoid personal lubricants
  • Avoid environmental and workplace toxins: heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides

Treatment Options for Low Sperm Count

Treating a man with a low sperm count can be difficult, especially if no further lifestyle factors can be modified. If the cause of the problem is a hormone imbalance (this is the case for about 1 in 100 of infertile men), then hormonal therapy may be appropriate.

Hormone imbalances that directly affect the development of the sperm can be successfully treated with injections of hormones called gonadotropins. Usually the testes respond by producing normal amounts of testosterone, and sperm production will resume, although it can take several months of treatment to see any improvement.

Surgery may be the answer when there are anatomical problems causing male infertility such as obstructions or physical abnormalities such as a varicocele, a varicose vein in the testicles.

Several medications and recreational drugs have been shown to affect a man’s fertility. You should inform your doctor of any prescription or over-the-counter medication you are taking.

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Dr. Rebecca Matthews has a PhD in embryo implantation and currently works as an embryologist. Her book, "IVF: A Patient's Guide," can be found on Amazon.

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