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Male Fertility FAQs and Advice: How to Keep Your Swimmers Strong

male fertility
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do hot tubs fry sperm? Should we burn our briefs and replace them with boxers? Do little swimmers get slower after a whiskey neat? We’re here to set straight all the hype about your nether regions and fertility.

The Manual asked Dr. Brian Levine, founding partner and practice director of CCRM New York about the junk in our trunks and why and how we should and can help our swimmers get healthy.

The Manual: Why should guys be aware of their fertility health?

Dr. Brian Levine: Fertility is a good parameter of general health. Fertility can be a first checkpoint for a man to see if he needs to see a specialist (i.e. a urologist). Warning signs might include constant headaches, double vision, discharge from the breasts, sexual dysfunction, or pain with intercourse.

If you’re trying to have a bambino, it’s dependent on the woman’s fertility, right?

When evaluating an infertile couple, male fertility plays just as much a role as female fertility (40 percent male, 40 percent female, 20 percent unknown).

How does stress affect sperm health?

As you start looking at male fertility, it’s wired the same way as women, specifically hormonal control in making sperm. In women, extreme stresses can affect the menstrual cycle, however in men it’s harder to see (you can through a semen analysis). If your hypothalamus (the place in the brain responsible for stress response) is out of whack, it’s possible for sperm function to drop.

What is the life-cycle of a swimmer?

Men make sperm every day of their life, but sperm production takes 72 days from the moment it’s made to moment it’s ejaculated. 

Are cheeseburgers and fries bad for male fertility?

We don’t know if it’s the food that matters or if it’s the lifestyle you lead that affects sperm production. If you’re obese or overweight, increased estrogen levels may diminish sperm production. Live a healthy life and you should have healthy sperm. And Don’t be a biking zealot.

(Try mace throwing instead!)

So… biking shorts = bad?

Don’t cook your balls. Biking shorts, briefs, hot tubs, anything increasing the temperature can negatively impact your fertility. The testicle is highly sensitive to temperature, which is why there is the scrotum. The scrotum allows for the testicles to be outside the body and a few temperatures cooler. The negative impact is reversible since men keep producing sperm.

What are traits of a healthy load?

The World Health Organization has them in their 5th edition manual. A semen analysis includes volume, concentration (normal is 15 million sperm per cc but many men are much higher), fertility (do you have Phelps or Lochte), and shape. About 96% of sperm can be hideous, you only need 4% to be ‘normal’, a somewhat subjective word.

Does drinking booze hurt sperm?

Things that increase free radicals are bad: smoking, drinking, and toxins. If you want to have better sperm. Vitamins like antioxidants work for improving male fertility.

How else can I boost the boys?

Remove anything that burns, like marijuana and cigarettes. Anything you wouldn’t feed a baby, don’t feed yourself. Then jumpstart by taking antioxidant vitamins to scavenge up free radicals.

Will sperm grow weak as a man ages?

The great debate. Guys make sperm from puberty until death while women have finite time. The true question is when does that age become the dominant force. We’re having older dads and seeing more patients have healthy babies later in life. In general, they start dropping in their 40s and 50s, starting with volume then in shape. But it only takes one sperm!

How can I check my fertility?

Try an at-home semen analysis kit if you don’t want to go to through the awkwardness of going to a clinic. Since unlike female fertility, many of these are reversible in men. It takes up to three months to see the impact.

Science project: go.

Jahla Seppanen
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Born and raised off-the-grid in New Mexico, Jahla Seppanen is currently a sports, fitness, spirits, and culture writer in…
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