What Kills Sperm? How Pollution, Age, Drugs Affect Fertility

Learn what kills sperm and how pollution, age, and drugs affect male fertility. Sperm health is affected by a man’s age, air pollution, cancer, and food, according to Donald P. Evenson, Ph.D., HCLD, of the American Fertility Association.

This information about male fertility could change how fast you get pregnant! And there’s good news: wine doesn’t kill sperm.

“Some alcohol is beneficial [for healthy sperm]” says Dr Evenson. “Especially dark red wines. So a glass a day may be positive. However, dark grape juice may be substituted.”

If you’re worried about your sperm, you might be interested in a Fertility Blend for Men.

And, read on for Dr Evenson’s tips on how not to kill a man’s sperm.

What Kills Sperm?

Men with a high level of sperm DNA fragmentation have a higher level of spontaneous miscarriages. Couples with repeated pregnancy losses have fathers with a four times higher level of sperm DNA fragmentation than sperm donors.

When a man has high sperm DNA fragmentation, the first response is to be examined by a urologist for the presence of a varicocele (this causes extra heat to the testis which isn’t good for sperm integrity). Next is diet, with a particular emphasis on antioxidants in food. A sperm health supplement such as FertilAid for Men that helps fight “oxidative stress” could be helpful way to stop the killing of sperm.

Air pollution could kill healthy sperm

Dr Evenson’s lab, the EPA and the Czech government studied a valley town that had a high level of industrial pollution– and also had a high number of miscarriages or no pregnancies. In an extensive study, sperm DNA fragmentation was the only factor that was correlated with the high and low levels of air pollution. To learn what foods don’t kill sperm – whether you live in a polluted area or not – read  5 Foods That Increase Sperm Count, Production, and Motility.

Some antidepressants kill sperm

An excellent example was in a study of 45 men, says Dr Evenson. For seven months one man had excellent sperm DNA integrity – and one month was very very poor. In the previous month, he had a back injury and had cortisone injection, which likely caused the poor DNA fragmentation.

Some supplements increase sperm count, quality, and motility

Supplementary products, in addition to healthy foods, include “cocktails” put together by physicians and patients. There are several commercial products that increase sperm health. Dr Evenson recommended Fertile One.

Studies have shown that older fathers take a longer time to achieve pregnancy than younger men. Recently, Dr Evenson found one of the molecular reasons for this. In a study of 100 men that were all healthy and similar backgrounds, they were divided into decades of age. Men in their 20s have about 5% of their sperm with fragmented DNA. Then going into the 30th year, sperm fragmentation increases and by the age of 50 the average level is 30% of sperm with fragmented DNA. Older men simply have decreased sperm count, quality, and production.

Sperm takes three months to mature

This is significant because this is the threshold that places a man into the category of a longer time to achieve a pregnancy, more miscarriages, or no pregnancy. Some older men have excellent DNA integrity, while younger men may have poor quality. However, at age 50 there is a 1/3 chance of infertility simply due to age factor and sperm DNA fragmentation. It takes three months from a testicular germ cell to mature into a functional sperm. The most important period is the last month which is likely the most senstive to insults like hot tubs, cortisone treatments and other medications.

For more tips on not killing sperm, read Tips for Overcoming Male Infertility Caused by Laptops.

Cancer affects sperm health

Even for cases like testicular cancer before any treatment, the sperm quality is affected and sperm DNA fragmentation is higher than normal. Even so, it is suggested to freeze aliquots of semen before treatment. Future medicine may be able to select out the good sperm from the poorer sperm. For more info, read Factors That Increase the Risk of Male Infertility.

If you’ve recently had a sperm test, you might find What Do My Sperm Test Results Mean? helpful.

And, feel free to comment about what kills sperm below…

Source: American Fertility Association webinar, June 17, 2008.

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