Top tips for sperm health for would-be dads

With infertility affecting about one in six couples across the UK, a leading fertility expert at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM) is urging men hoping to become fathers to protect their sperm with a lifestyle overhaul.

Sperm counts have fallen by 50% to 60% in the last four decades, so it should come as no surprise, according to BCRM’s Dr Valentine Akande, that about a third of the couples who come to the clinic because they’re not conceiving naturally find the main problem lies with the would-be dad. In fact, over half the couples have some issues with sperm, alongside those of the would-be mum.

The good news is that by taking better care of their health, some men can improve their sperm quality in as little as three months.

Dr Akande said: “Even when a man has already fathered children, problems may develop in the intervening period, so we always start by carrying out semen analysis, that is a sperm test, if a couple are having difficulty.

“And if the man’s sperm count is found to be borderline or slightly low there are steps h can take which may, in some cases, improve matters.”

Dr Akande’s top five tips for nurturing a man’s sperm count are:

1 Stop smoking

2 Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking

3 Seek medical advice on whether prescription drugs which may be interfering with sperm quality

4 Avoid recreational drugs and anabolic steroids

5 Aim to keep your testes slightly cooler than the rest of your body – wear loose fitting underpants and trousers and avoid very hot baths, saunas and long distance cycling.

Diet is also under the spotlight with researchers from Harvard University reporting that young men who ate mainly junk food, had a 25 per cent lower sperm count than those who ate plenty of fruit, vegetables and fish.

In cases where the quality of a man’s sperm does not improve with lifestyle changes, the way forward is often for a couple to embark on IVF treatment, a procedure for which BCRM’s success rate is the best in the region, with 34% of embryos transferred through IVF resulting in births.

“Among other options, we offer a form of IVF treatment called ICSI. This is where a man’s sperm is injected directly into an egg – a procedure which can be carried out even when there are very few sperm present, and with ICSI we’d expect 60-70% of eggs injected with sperm to fertilise,” said Valentine Akande.

“This ICSI technique has allowed many men to father children with their own genetic material where before sperm from a donor would have been used. But if donor sperm is required, we can help with that too.”

BCRM offers discreet £120 appointments for men to have their sperm tested by their internationally recognised expert scientists. This helps identify whether the sperm is normal or may be causing a couple’s problem in conceiving.

If the sperm test shows no problem with the man, then it makes sense to focus on the woman, but a sperm test will mean the couple have ruled out 50% of the issues that cause infertility.

To find out more about sperm tests email [email protected], phone 0117 301 8605 or find advice on the BCRM website at BCRM treats both private and NHS patients with fertility issues.