Acupuncture may help to improve sperm quality, including low sperm count, poor motility and structural abnormalities. It takes up to 3 months for sperm development.
Sperm quality is crucial for fertility. Sperm need to survive the long and difficult journey though the woman’s reproductive tract to reach the egg, and transporting the male DNA.
Sperm quality deteriorates with age.
They are particularly vulnerable to free radical damage, which often results in abnormally formed sperm, and a poor motility and morphology result, or fragmentation of the DNA. Semen normally contains antioxidants to protect sperm against free radicals. If this natural defence system is impaired in some way the effect on sperm can be very damaging. Free radicals and caffeine can cause sperm to become hyperactive while still in the reproductive tract which affects their motility and forward progression.
Sources of Free Radicals
- Recreational drugs
- Processed foods, especially foods high in artificial additives
- Fast foods
- Foods that contain high amounts of poor-quality fats and oils, particularly processed meats, margarines, biscuits and pastries, and takeaways
- Fried barbecued and burnt foods
- Exposure to environmental pollution such as traffic fumes
Excess weight can affect male reproduction due to fat cells converting testosterone to oestrogen, and due to fat overhanging belly overheating the testicals, reducing sperm numbers.
Dietary and Environmental Oestrogens
The dozens of synthetic chemicals found in everyday life, from pesticides, to plastic food wrappings, tin can linings, shampoos, cosmetics, household cleaning agents, are all known as hormone disruptors because their molecular shape is very similar to that of oestrogen. This can affect the delicate balance between the hormones oestrogen and testosterone, which can cause male infertility.
Antioxidants – improve male fertility.
Vitamin E – A fat soluble vitamin and main antioxidant in sperm membranes. It works with selenium in its antioxidative capacity.
Selenium – A mineral which is vital for healthy sperm formation, particularly motility. It also protects against toxic metal contamination.
Vitamin C – A water soluble vitamin. It is found in high levels in seminal fluid. Overheating and smoking easily destroys it. Its main function is to prevent sperm clumping together.
Zinc – A mineral which is the most important nutrient in male fertility. It is highly concentrated in the seminal fluid, and seminal plasma, and the head of sperm. Deficiency decreases both testosterone and sperm counts.
(See nutrition section for more information on foods to improve sperm quality).