So, you’re trying to have a kid. Maybe it’s your first, or maybe you’re going full Gaffigan and aiming for number 5. And it’s got you thinking about your little swimmers and what you could do to whip them into shape.
While there are plenty of articles offering a range of sperm making hacks, from hours of pelvic yoga to pounding Omega-3 supplements, Dr. Phillip Werthman, MD urologist and director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine, says they’re nothing but nonsense. The key to keeping your little soldiers marching at a good clip lies in staying healthy. That said, Werthman has some advice on how you can have as potent sperm as possible. Basically, the equation comes down to common sense + moderation = smooth wriggling sperm.
Sperm Health Is General Health
There’s no separation of state and sperm in your body. That is, if you’re not taking care of yourself, then it’s probably safe to assume your swimmers aren’t doing many laps. “A healthy person might have bad sperm for other issues, but if you’re in bad health, your sperm’s not going to be so great,” says Werthman, bluntly. “Why would an unhealthy person have really healthy sperm. How would that make sense?” The good doctor makes a fair point.
If It’s Bad For You, It’s Probably Bad For Your Sperm
Let’s get the basics out of the way: You know the stuff your general practitioner cautions you against when you come in for a routine check up? There’s a lot of overlap with the conversation you’ll have with a sperm doctor. “Smoking is bad,” Dr. Werthman says. “Smoking pot is bad. Alcohol is bad. I’m not talking about once in a blue moon. I’m talking about regular heavy consumption.” Werthman says other common indulgences that damage your sperm include overconsumption of coffee and extended Jacuzzi use. So use caution. While you’re at it, steer clear of licking any radioactive material, too.
Fat Definitely Isn’t Your Friend
It’s a cartoon miracle that noted tubbos Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin had 3 kids each. Excess fat is a fertility killer. Rolls of fat around the waist heat up the testes, making sperm production plummet. But that’s not the only problem. “Fat is bad for the pistons in your body,” Werthman said. When people are fat they start to have what is called a metabolic syndrome where their metabolism is off and toxins build up. “Certainly for men, it’s a problem, because men who are obese tend to have low testosterone and high estrogen,” says Werthman. “That’s bad for sperm.”
Exercise Is Good But Too Much Exercise Is Bad
So if fat’s bad, lack of fat must be great, right? Not so fast. Intense athletic activity can make conceiving a kid more difficult. Thankfully, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll have an issue. An average weekend warrior-type training for a 5K can dad up, no problem. But if you’re training for the Tour De France or an iron man? You might have a tougher time. “If guys are doing loads of cardio, cautions Werthman, “it’s likely they have too much body heat and too little body mass. Too little fat is a problem and too much is a problem, you have to be in a normal range.”
No, You Don’t Have To Do Any Dude-Kegels
That’s right. Those pelvic floor exercises you read about? While there’s no harm in a bit more flexibility, Werthman says they’re a waste of time for sperm problems. Dude Kegels (Dugels?) may help with erections, but they have no effect on sperm. “You can be fertile and have no erections and be rock hard and have no sperm,” Werthman said. It’s a weird world down there.
There’s No Perfect Sperm Making Food
If you’re having problems with payload delivery, don’t go crazy on brown rice or salmon or other foods quacks recommend for sperm strength. Just stick to a healthy diet of lean protein, good carbs, and healthy fats. “If someone is deficient, that’ll be a problem,” Werthman said. “But someone who’s getting a normal, well-balanced diet is not going to be deficient.”
Be Careful With Those Supplements
Fertility doctors have special supplements that they prescribe to patients and it’s in your best interest to listen to the pros instead of mixing and matching vitamins on your own, says Werthman. But whatever you take, don’t let it be a testosterone supplement. Counterintuitive though it may seem, testosterone supplements make it more difficult to make a baby. “Testosterone doesn’t increase fertility,” Werthman says. “You have to have a reasonable amount of testosterone that your body’s making. If it comes from the outside world it’ll stop fertility.”