Written by Amrita K Flora
At the British Sperm Bank, we select the best quality sperm to be used for sperm donation. Many sperm donors are turned away if the quality of sperm is not good enough. The documentary ‘Celebrity Save Our Sperm’ streamed on Channel 4 looks into how to increase male fertility and how to prevent spermageddon.
In the documentary they start by performing a fertility test to see what the quality of their sperm is like. During the fertility test the sperm count, motility and shape of the sperm are analysed. Sperm count is measured by how many sperm are present in one ml in an ejaculate. Additionally, DNA fragmentation can be done on the sperm sample which shows the percentage of sperm with healthy DNA.
The key stats show that in the 1970s there was around 100 million sperm per ml but now on average, there are 48 million sperm per ml. This is 60% of what it was in the 1970s. However, the embryologist in the documentary said that most men can improve their fertility by changing their lifestyle for example.
The testicles hang lower so that they can stay cooler than the rest of the body. Any temperature above 34 degrees Celcius could be harmful to the sperm. 34C is the optimal temperature.
Factors that negatively affect sperm count are hot baths, steam rooms, saunas, tight jeans, sitting down for long periods of time due to the thighs rubbing together and exercising wearing 3 layers of gym kit. Men that wear boxer shorts have a 25% higher sperm concentration compared to those in tight-fitting underwear. Too much coffee and smoking are not good as coffee causes DNA fragmentation and smoking cause endocrine dysfunction and affects sperm quality.
Plastic water bottles can release plastic particles which can leak out into the water. We are then drinking this plastic which affects fertility since they interfere with hormonal functions. This can be avoided by cutting out the plastic we use e.g. fruits wrapped in plastic in the supermarket, tupperware and plastic water filters
In contrast, eating fresh meat, vegetables, nuts antioxidants, omega-3-containing food and fish increases the quality of the sperm. Testicular massages may be beneficial to bring blood flow to help clear out toxins and waste products as well as increase sperm quality.
Overall, this documentary showed that there are several men who have a low sperm count but there are several ways to increase sperm quality. Understand the methods of increasing sperm quality so that it is at the expectational level needed for sperm donation.