sperm

  1. Obesity kills sperm

    Time for some tough talk about the male waistline -- specifically what's right above it... and what's right below, because the two are more closely linked than you might think.

    Fatty tissue contains an enzyme called aromatase, which transforms your manly testosterone into a form of the not-so-manly hormone estrogen. That doesn't just sound like bad news for male sexual health... it IS bad news, and a new analysis out of France makes my point perfectly.

    Researchers looked at 14 studies that compared sperm counts in normal weight, overweight, and obese men and, not at all surprisingly, found that obese men were 42 percent more likely to have low sperm counts.

    Even worse, the obese guys were 81 percent more likely to produce no sperm at all.

    You don't have to be obese to lose your manpower, either -- because even overweight (not obese) men were having trouble producing. They were 11 percent more likely to have low sperm counts and 39 percent more likely to have no sperm at all than normal-weight men, according to the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

    It's not just low counts. Other studies have found that obese men have lower sperm quality, too, including low concentration and low motility (that's the ability to move towards the egg for fertilization).

    On the other hand, many overweight and obese men never realize they have any of these sperm problems in the first place because of one of the other effects of those extra pounds: erectile dysfunction.

    OK, I can practically sense some of you squirming as you read this. No guy suffering from sexual dysfunction or low sperm counts wants to talk about it, and I've had my share of patients come in and beat around the bush or ask about a "friend."

    I get it -- so let me save you from that awkward conversation. If you're overweight and suffering from any form of sexual dysfunction, drop the pounds.

    If weight isn't the cause of your problems, then don't be shy. Have that conversation -- because there could be something else going on that needs attention such as low testosterone or impaired circulation.

    And don't worry. Your doctor's heard it all before.

  2. Power your sperm with seafood

    Gentlemen, if you want to keep your sperm swimming -- and who doesn't? -- head on over to the nearest fish market and load up on tuna and salmon.

    The fattier the fish, the better -- because the same fatty acids that make these fish such healthy choices for everything from your heart to your eyes to your brain are also positively critical to your fertility.

    The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the essential building blocks of sperm -- and a new study on mice shows how it's also a key part of the acrosome, which is what enables the sperm to penetrate the egg.

    You might say it's the most important part of all. The mice would agree: When they were denied DHA, they produced fewer sperm -- and the ones they did create were misshapen, rendering them infertile.

    But once DHA was put back into their diets, they began to produce again like, well, mice. (Side note: There has to be a pest-control angle in here somewhere).

    This is, of course, just one study on mice. But human studies have also shown how high levels of these essential fatty acids can boost your fertility.

    One study from just a couple of years back found that fertile men tended to have higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, while infertile men had higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids.

    And these days, with diets heavy in grain fed animals from factory farms, most of us get less of the desirable omega-3s and far more of the undesirable omega-6 fatty acids.

    Call it one more reason to switch to fresh all-natural grass-fed meats.

    Naturally, omega-3 fatty acids aren't the only answers for sperm health. A lot goes into male fertility -- and studies over the years have shown that high levels of vitamin D can boost the speed and forward motion of sperm, an essential trait called motility.

    Other studies have also shown that junk food, soda and the BPA used to line canned goods (including soda cans) can slash sperm levels and turn the ones that are left into the microscopic equivalent of couch potatoes: slow, lazy and uninterested in the quest for the egg.

    That would explain the recent rise in male infertility.

  3. Junk food kills sperm

    You already know what junk food will do to your waistline -- but for men, a diet rich in poor choices can also hit below the belt. To put it simply, junk food kills sperm the way RAID kills roaches.
  4. BPA destroys sperm

    It's bisphenol A, or BPA, the hormone-like chemical used in plastics and can linings, and researchers say men exposed to it have a higher risk of problems with their contribution to the baby-making process.

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