How To Figure Out If Your Sperm Is Up To The Task Of Making Another You

Balls in your court.

by Chase Scheinbaum
Originally Published: 
Everything You Need To Know About Your Sperm

So you’ve made the decision to spend decades feeding, clothing and funding a human child. Or perhaps you’ve made the decision to make more humans to feed, clothe, and fund. Either way, you’re going to want to make sure you’re in baby-making shape. And Dr. Michael Eisenberg, the director of Male Reproductive Health And Surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, is an advocate for double-checking your DNA.

Sure, a lot of guys still think that pre-pregnancy rituals like ovulation apps and trying weird positions are the responsibility of their partner. Since you’re not that guy and want to play your part by keeping your sperm in Olympic condition, here are the ins and outs (and ins again) of your reproductive health. Because you’re half responsible for the outcome. (And fully responsible for clever ejaculation puns.)

Whose Problem Is It?

Eisenberg advises couples having difficulty conceiving to both get fertility tests — either in a lab, or with a home-testing kit. Note that this issue is with the guy about 40 percent of the time. Eisenberg likes to say, “Fertility is a team sport.” Hopefully that team is more doubles tennis and less 40-man roster football.

What Can You Do If You Have Lazy Swimmers?

If your sperm shows abnormalities in tests, Eisenberg advises further tests for a fuller picture. If you have sperm that moves with the speed of, well … you, it all comes back to diet and exercise. Smoking, obesity, sedentariness, alcohol consumption, cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure — they all can play a role in your potency. And for extremely lazy swimmers, try reading some Tony Robbins to your scrotum. That guy can motivate anyone.

Are Skinny Jeans Destroying My Balls?

Probably not — unless they’re Axl Rose-tight. (Which says something about Axl.) The same goes for tighty-whities. “Whatever’s comfortable is what you should wear,” says Eisenberg (unless you’re the lead singer for Guns N’ Roses). The potential problem isn’t pant-tightness, but too much heat. For example, sitting for long periods with a laptop in your lap, sitting for hours in a hot tub, or tanning your penis isn’t advisable. Skinny jeans are also inadvisable for other reasons. It’s called a Moose Knuckle.

Is My Cell Phone Destroying My Balls?

Possibly, according to studies in which cups of ejaculated sperm were placed close to cell phones (worst science fair project, ever). The research in this area is too early to make concrete statements, and Eisenberg says whether or not these findings carry over into the real world is unknown. Just to be safe, “It makes sense to keep phones in a coat pocket rather than close to the scrotum.”

Does Having A Kid Reduce My Ability To Have Another?

As with brain function and sleep, testosterone was shown by one recent study to decrease after fathering a child, although science can’t exactly say why. It also didn’t address whether fertility decreases after subsequent children. But if couples have increased difficulty after their first conception, “It might just be a virtue of age,” says Eisenberg. Or it might just be your children cock-blocking you.

What Happens When You Age

For this answer you should refer to Shakuntala Devi. She’s the middle-aged wife of Ramajit Raghav, a guy who at the spry age of 90-freaking-6 became the world’s oldest father. Devi told reporters that her husband “can make love like any 25-year-old man,” which is just gross.

There is a point here, though. Fertility decreases with age, but “You can never assume a man can’t be a father,” says Eisenberg. Testosterone is the key factor in that sperm factory you call a ball sac. That decreases one percent each year after 20. But that’s beside the point, because the older you or your partner get, the higher the risk your kid faces of developing autism, schizophrenia, dwarfism, and some types of cancer. “Every year we accumulate some damage or mutations in our sperm. Maybe only a couple a year, but over time that adds up,” he says. It sounds scary, but “bigger” risks are still lottery-ticket low. “I liken it to buying 2 lottery tickets. Your chances might double between 35 and 55, but it’s still unlikely.”

At-Home Male Fertility Tests Are Now An Option

The prospect of jacking off in a tiny room with decades old porn to spurn you on may have seemed awesome when you were 14; it’s less so at 34. Eisenberg says you can have more privacy with a new generation of at-home devices (one of which he worked on) that have become nearly as reliable as in-office labs and don’t require a recliner covered in examination table paper.

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