Lifestyle link to male flops; Healthy YOU.
Byline: Kelly Jenkins and Conner Kiernan
SPERM quality is hitting new lows and is being blamed for repeat miscarriages as well as problems conceiving.
In the past four decades sperm counts have halved. For a third of infertile couples the source of the difficulty is the bloke.
Male fertility expert Jonathan Ramsay is certain that lifestyle has played a major part.
He said: "Sperm counts are declining at such a rapid rate it isn't just to do with genetics. Some is about the environment and about how we live."
More research is being done into male fertility in the hope couples will not have to pin their hopes on IVF.
Here Jonathan, urologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, gives tips on how to boost sperm count and quality. DON'T SMOKE Smoking damages the DNA in sperm and its quality, even when a sperm count looks normal.
It causes its DNA to become more brittle and fragment. It is the same reason smoking causes cancers.
I would advise anyone to stop smoking, especially if they are trying for children.
Against the background of declining sperm counts, stopping smoking is very important. WATCH YOUR WEIGHT Weight gain in men, particularly around the tummy, is all linked to overall health. As you put on weight around your tummy, your serum testosterone level goes down and this leads to a low sperm count.
The fat around the stomach also produces inflammatory chemicals which in turn damage sperm quality.
Men should also avoid junk food, snacking and processed meat - they are full of chemicals and hormones that affect the quality of sperm.
HAVE MORE SEX You should be having sex with your partner regularly if you want to conceive. All this business of saving sperm up is complete nonsense.
The sperm themselves are competitive and the more freshly ejaculated sperm are often of better quality. So if you are trying for a baby it is better to have sex more often and regularly. STOP BINGE DRINKING Alcohol alters hormone levels, which can affect sperm count.
Avoid binge drinking and try to stick to lower than ten units per week, which is about five pints of lager.
There is something about the alcohol that damages sperm quality. I could tell men to go on the wagon if they are trying for children - but they still need to be able to relax.
KEEP COOL The optimum temperature for sperm production is two and a half degrees below your core body temperature. That is quite a big difference.
Try to avoid hot baths, hot showers and hot saunas.
Men should also be careful when exercising.
If you use exercise bikes or cycle and wear tight Lycra, then you will raise the temperature of the testicles and this will adversely affect your sperm.
| Jonathan's male fertility clinic is at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital in London. See imperial.nhs.uk.