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How can I keep my sperm healthy?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Take these steps -- starting today -- for super-swimmer sperm:
  • Eat little to no bad fats and more good fats. Eating lots of saturated fat (found in red meats, processed meats, full-fat dairy products, and many snack foods and desserts) can reduce sperm counts by 38% and slow the swimming ability of the remaining 62%. Getting more omega-3 fatty acids (from fish such as salmon and wild trout), however, means higher sperm counts. To get more omega-3s, you can also take 1,500 milligrams of a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (the most active omega-3) supplement daily. Take 1,500 mg for 10 weeks, and then cut back to 1,000 mg.
  • Hang out at the farm stand. Filling up on fruit and vegetables protects sperm quality and quantity by revving up your body's defenses that keep 'em healthy.
  • Add vitamin D3 and zinc. Plenty of vitamin D3 helps sperm swim better and faster. Aim for 1,000 IU a day from a D3 supplement. Add 12 mg of zinc a day for a healthy sperm count and superior shape. Find zinc in your multivitamin and in healthful food sources, including poultry, beans, cashews, and yogurt with no fat or added sugar.
  • Get that laptop off your lap and your phone out of your pocket. Surfing the Web or checking e-mail with a Wi-Fi-connected laptop in your lap is bad news for male fertility since it thwarts sperms' swimming skills and the precious DNA (yours!) cargo they carry. Phones may hamper male fertility, too.
  • Keep cool where it counts. Sperm production needs temperatures cooler than the rest of your body, which is why hot tubs, a fever, and even a desk job can decrease your sperm count. Take stand-up breaks at work, let 'em breathe, and make the switch from briefs to boxers. Tight underwear can reduce sperm count by up to 50%. Cyclists, mix up your exercise routine, too.
  • Skip the drinks and smokes. Smoking tobacco is harmful to male fertility. It can cut your sperm count by 13% to 17% and increases the risk of genetic abnormalities, so it's best to quit smoking. There's evidence that marijuana is also bad news. More than one beer, glass of wine, or cocktail a day also messes with sperm quality. After two drinks, sperm get mixed up and travel in weird directions.
  • Stay trim for your swimmers. Being overweight subtracts from your sperm count and ups the number of abnormal sperm in your arsenal. Why? Obesity may alter hormone levels and heat up your testicles. Losing weight can also cure erectile dysfunction if you're unable to achieve an erection.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.