In cases when poor semen quality is due to environmental factors, the solution may be to change one’s lifestyle
Certain habits, such as smoking, practising too much sport, stress or a poor diet may affect male fertility
Men have certain habits which may have a direct effect on their fertility, and in particular, the quality of their semen. In fact for some years now, the World Health Organisation has had to lower its semen quality standards, since practically no man is able to comply with what were formerly considered normal levels. Enormous changes have taken place in the pace of life and lifestyles and they affect fertility. However, it is possible to return to normal by changing to healthier lifestyles.
“There are several factors that influence the quality of the semen”, explains Dr. Marta Trullenque, an assisted reproduction specialist at Eugin Clinic. “Firstly, genetic factors, those provoked by some diseases or side effects following surgery which can be treated through assisted reproduction. Secondly, there are environmental factors which are due to certain habits. This can be corrected by changing those habits, in order to improve the quality of the semen”, she assures.
“It is important to distinguish between environmental factors and medical factors to obtain the best diagnosis” says the doctor. Establishing a positive clinical history, along with other medical tests such as a seminogram –a test to evaluate the sperm quality in a semen sample- will help identify the cause of male infertility.
Which are the environmental factors?
Smoking: this causes a reduction in the number of sperm. It is best to cut down on smoking or give it up in order to obtain semen of a better quality.
Alcohol: the daily, prolonged consumption of high-grade alcohol gives rise to poor semen quality. It is advisable to reduce alcohol consumption.
Consuming cannabis: cannabis lowers the sperm count and makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg and fertilise it. It is not advisable to consume this substance.
Stress: some studies show that being exposed to occasional or continual stress may cause a reduction in the semen quality. In this respect, it is important to try and live a more relaxed life or reduce anxiety when trying to conceive.
Diet: poor dietary habits such as eating too much processed meat, an excessive intake of dairy products that contain fat, not eating enough fruit and vegetables -and consequently, antioxidants and vitamins- has a direct effect on male fertility. To achieve a better balance in the levels of these nutrients, it is best to eat a healthier diet or take antioxidant supplements.
Excess sport: professional or competitive sport which requires enormous physical effort -especially cycling- affects male fertility. It is best to practise sport in moderation.
Fever: although this is an occasional environmental factor, it may give an erroneous result in the seminogram. For this reason it is important to take this into consideration before the test.
“The result of the seminogram may vary considerably from one sample to another”, says the doctor. “In this respect, we recommend waiting one month between each test -the ideal thing would be to wait for up to three months- to give the body time to adjust again after changing one’s lifestyle and allow the seminogram result to improve”, she concludes.