By John Salak –
It is one of the world’s little-realized but deeply troubling problems. Average sperm counts in Western nations have been down, out and declining sharply for half a century. Various studies, in fact, report an almost 60-percent decline in average counts for men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand between 1973 and 2011 with little hope of improvement anytime soon.
This unprecedented decline is the byproduct of an overflowing bushel of environmental, dietary and lifestyle issues. But the impact of low sperm counts goes beyond fertility issues. It is likely a harbinger of deeper health issues for men and potential issues for their offspring, according to recent research from institutes like Sweden’s Linköping University.
For clarity’s sake, the chronic decline in sperm counts doesn’t undermine or limit a man’s sexual activity. But it does lessen his ability to impregnate a woman. In fact, it’s estimated that at least 10 -15 percent of couples face fertility problems, largely due to low sperm counts, according to The World Health Organization.
The problem usually stems from a man’s physical condition and lifestyle issues, such as obesity, high level of alcohol consumption, drug use, stress, diabetes, steroid intake and eating lots of soy products, according to BoldSkyLimitlessLiving.com. Sperm counts can even be harmed by spending too much time in a hot tub, wearing tight briefs that overheat testes and keeping a cell phone in a man’s front pants pockets for the same heat-generating reason.
Recently, researchers from Sao Paulo University in Brazil also cited tiny air pollution particles common in industrial cities as a potential cause of sperm count decline. Based on their study of how exposure to these particles adversely impacted the genes related to the testicular function in mice, lead researcher Dr. Elaine Maria Frade Costa reported “Infertility rates are increasing around the world, and air pollution may be one of the main factors.”
One redeeming factor in this troubling trend is that the problem is drawing increased research attention that’s designed to help individuals with sperm count issues. Examining the impact of nutritional and dietary adjustments are at the center of much of this work. Universitat Rovira in Spain, for example, recently reported that adding nuts to your regular diet improves the function and quality of sperm.
Another recent study of 1,700 Danish men linked taking fish oil supplements to improved semen quality and testicular function. Researchers were quick to note that their work did not identify an absolute relationship between fish oil and sperm quality, but they cited a significant correlation between fish oil consumption and higher sperm counts, larger testicular size and a seemingly healthier profile of two hormones related to sperm production.
Medical News Today offered an even more comprehensive set of dos and don’ts for anyone interested in raising their sperm quality. These include getting regular exercise and sleep; knocking off your smoking habit; limiting alcohol and drug use; monitoring and regulating the impact on any prescriptions on sperm counts; taking ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), folate and zinc, fenugreek and vitamin D supplements; and consuming more antioxidant-rich foods. Getting enough polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 is also essential.
The report also recommended for increased fertility in men to limit the intake of unhealthy fat (trans fatty acids), estrogen-rich foods and soy. Oh yes, it is wise to avoid exposure to pollutants and toxic chemicals, which is sound advice under any circumstance.
Now identified as the “Male Infertility Crisis,” journalist Daniel Noah Halpern summed up the wide-ranging threat neatly: “We are producing less semen, and that semen has fewer sperm cells in it.”