Most men don’t think about their sperm quality. They assume that the sperm are operating at full capacity and that their sperm count and motility are normal. In some men, however, this is not the case and sperm quality may be poor. Recent research has indicated the possibility that problems with sperm quality might be associated with many different types of health conditions, including skin problems, heart disease, high blood pressure and hormonal problems.
It is not likely that defects in sperm quality are the cause of the health problems; rather, the sperm reflect the quality of a man’s overall health. Sperm are made all the time and when health is poor, the sperm quality suffers.
It is known that sickness affects fertility. Men with chronic and acute diseases don’t make sperm properly and they lose motility and look defective under the microscope. When they are released as part of the ejaculate during sex, poor health can lead to a low sperm count, decreased sperm motility (movement), and sperm that are defective when seen microscopically. In fact, there can be many health factors that affect the way the testicles produce sperm.
Factors That Affect Sperm Quality
It could be that, in treating conditions like hypertension, sperm quality can improve. It’s also possible that the medications used to treat hypertension affect the way the testicles produce sperm. More research needs to be done to identify whether it is the disease of hypertension or the medications to treat the disorder that mostly affect the sperm quality.
There may be a genetic link to the making of quality sperm. Experts note that about ten percent of male genes are directly related to the production of sperm. Some of these genes can be mutated, leading to poor sperm quality. There may be some cross reactivity between the genes that affect sperm production and the genes causing chronic diseases.
The Research Study
A recent study published in the journal called Fertility and Sterility, a group of researchers compared the overall health level of men who had poor sperm quality with men who had normal sperm quality. They discovered that about 44 percent of men who suffered from abnormalities in sperm quality also had chronic health conditions, including diseases of the blood vessels, heart disease, and hypertension.
The more health conditions the man had, the greater was the problems with sperm production. Exactly how these two things interact with one another is not completely clear. It may be that sperm quality is marker of poor health.
The study was a retrospective study in which they evaluated the medical records of greater than 9000 men who were treated for infertility between 1994 and 2011. Most of the men were between the ages of 30 years and 50 years of age.
The semen was checked for ejaculate, the actual sperm count, and the motility of the sperm. In approximately half the cases, the problem with fertility was due to an abnormality of the sperm. They concluded that fertility is best when a man is not suffering from chronic disease. This has been borne out by many reproductive endocrinologists, who have observed a relationship between poor health and male fertility. Hopefully, the study can help those who treat men with infertility to recognize the relationship between chronic diseases and the production of semen.
Leading A Healthier Lifestyle
It may be that the prescription for poor fertility is to lead a healthier lifestyle and to take fewer medications that may play a role in the testicles’ ability to make healthy sperm. As health improves, the testicles may be able to respond by producing sperm that move faster and have fewer defects.
The recommendation for infertility may include telling the man to quit smoking, avoid alcohol, and start a regular exercise program. These major lifestyle changes may enhance a man’s ability to father a child and can have other health benefits as well.