Tips to keeping your sperm healthy

PHOTO: Tips to keeping your sperm healthy

Singapore's total fertility rate fell to a record-low of 1.16 in 2010, down from 1.22 in 2009. According to the CIA World Factbook, we rank the third-lowest in terms of fertility rate among 223 countries, with only Hong Kong and Macau lagging behind.

One of the reasons for this drop could be due to a modern affliction affecting the modern man; sperm count has dropped 50 per cent in the last decade according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

A quarter of infertility cases are now due to the male and after the age of 24, your odds of conceiving within six months drop 2 per cent a year. Find out the possible threats to your swimmers and learn how to improve your virility.

#1 Insufficient Zinc Fix: Eat more oysters

The fertility super-nutrient improves count, motility (aka swimming ability), volume, hormone levels, genetic material, cell division and sex drive, as well as forming the outer layer of the tail of the sperm.

Zinc puts the requisite cartridges in your chamber and 15mg per day is the minimum you need. If you're actively trying, it's better to double this as the US Department of Agriculture researchers found men lose up to 9 per cent of their daily zinc intake per ejaculate.

Oysters are the richest source, with six providing 16mg. Or nibble daily on pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Besides zinc, you'll also need your dosage of selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E.

#2 Your Stuffy Office Fix: Wear boxers

Ditch your tighty-whities and switch to boxers, or at least something that won't constrict your balls. Research by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi found men working in hot offices have lower sperm counts than their cooler colleagues. "Keep your tackle cool with loose-fitting underwear," says Dr Saffin. Ladies dig nice boxers, too. But forget the boring, plain patterns and add a dash of colour to your (hidden) wardrobe with these suggestions.

#3 Friday Night Drinks Fix: Switch to orange juice

Booze stops you from absorbing zinc and vitamin B12, hits your testosterone production and causes impotence. Research by Paulista State University in Brazil found it also shrinks your balls. "Just two drinks can have a negative effect," says Zita West, author of Fertility and Conception.

Replace alcohol with orange juice to stop your sperm from congealing. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University found that men who consumed 500mg of vitamin C twice a day (equivalent to four glasses of fresh juice) recorded a drop in defective sperm from 20 per cent to 11 per cent.

Chemical Pesticides Fix: Go organic Organo-phosphate insecticides are known neurotoxins, and constant exposure won't help your sperm - they can cause reproductive damage and reduced fertility. A study by the University of Texas Medical Branch that looked at the sperm count of farmhands on organic farms showed they had double the swimmers of tractor boys who work with pesticides, which contain multiple nasties.

This doesn't mean you should ignore your beautiful home garden. Just opt for a more organic approach. Get down and dirty, by handpicking weeds, mulching and planting flowers that attract beneficial insects to feast on pests. Visit organicgardening.com for tips and tricks.

#4 Poor Internal Plumbing Fix: Ejaculate regularly

If you found blood in your semen, stay calm. Believe it or not, it's usually a routine plumbing issue. One in 100 experience this condition, known as hematospermia, and it's usually nothing to worry about, says Dr Judd Moul, chief of Urologic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center. "The cause is likely to be harmless inflammation of your prostate or seminal vesicles."

Hematospermia usually goes away on its own after about a month, although 25 per cent of men will probably experience it again (urologists aren't sure why). If it persists for three months, or if you're 40 or older, see your doctor for a prostate-specific antigen test. It could be something more serious. Prostate cancer accounts for about two per cent of hematospermia cases.

If you receive a clean bill of health, follow your doctor's orders - they can be fun. "Ejaculating at least once a week improves your urologic health, and decreases the chances of hematospermia and prostate cancer," says Dr Moul.

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