7 Things You Do Every Day That Destroy Your Sperm

These seemingly innocent habits could be adding up to some serious below-the-belt trouble

PUBLISHED: |

BY MARYGRACE TAYLOR



7 Things You Do Every Day That Destroy Your Sperm
istock

You spent so many years trying not to get her pregnant, so when you finally want to become a dad, you might be surprised to discover that conceiving isn’t as easy as you may have thought. In fact, 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant. And in 1 out of every 3 cases, the problem is on the guy’s end, according to the national fertility organisation Resolve.
 

Normal sperm counts have declined in the last several decades,” says Ajay Nangia, M.B.B.S., a professor of urology at the University of Kansas Medical Center specialising in male infertility.
 

Part of that dip could be due to seemingly harmless things guys do on an everyday basis. Here, 7 common habits that might be messing with your sperm.
 

SPERM-DAMAGING HABIT: STAYING UP TOO LATE

Turn off Netflix and get to bed: Guys who logged less than 6 hours of sleep per night were 31 percent less likely to get their partners pregnant than guys who slept for 7 to 8 hours per night, according to a preliminary study in the journal Fertility & Sterility.
 

Lack of sleep may lower your production of the hormone testosterone, which is essential for sperm production, researchers say. 
 

But too much shuteye isn’t the answer, either: Men who snoozed for more than 9 hours a night also demonstrated lower levels of fertility. So shoot for 7 to 8 hours a night - the sweet spot in the study.
 

SPERM-DAMAGING HABIT: USING THE WRONG LUBE

Popular commercial lubes like K-Y and Astroglide can hamper your sperm’s motility, or their ability to efficiently swim towards the egg to fertilise it, a 2014 study in Fertility & Sterility found. The lubes’ thick consistency may make it difficult for the sperm to move, says Dr. Nangia.
 

“They’re fine for intercourse [when you’re not trying to get pregnant], but they can act a bit like a spermicidal barrier,” he says. (Still, you should never use a lubricant as birth control.)
 

Plus, they also contain hydrochloric acid, a preservative that can kill sperm, he says.
 

Instead, stick with a fertility-friendly lube like PreSeed, which is less damaging to sperm, the study found. 
 

SPERM-DAMAGING HABIT: SKIMPING ON FISH

Ordering your fair share of fish might save your swimmers. When Harvard researchers studied the diet and semen quality of 155 men, they found that guys who ate the most fish- particularly omega-3-rich fish like salmon or tuna - had higher sperm counts and higher levels of normal, healthy sperm than those who ate less.
 

On the flip side, men who ate the most processed meat, like bacon, hotdogs, and salami, had the lowest sperm counts and the highest levels of abnormally shaped sperm compared to men who ate the least.
 

Processed meats might decrease reproductive hormones like testosterone, while the omega-3 fatty acids in fish promote the formation of healthier sperm, researchers say.
 

SPERM-DAMAGING HABIT: GUZZLING SODA

Guys who drink more than one sugary soda a day have lower sperm motility than those who rarely or never sip the sweet stuff, a study published in Human Reproduction found.
 

Eating or drinking too much sugar can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where your cells are unable to take glucose from your blood and use it for energy. This can lead to inflammation, which can hinder how your sperm moves, the researchers say.
 

Plus, if your soda habit is making you fat, that could pose its own problem. Too much fat prompts your body to pump out less testosterone and more estrogen, which is bad for your fertility, Dr. Nangia says.
 

Extra fat tissue around your thighs and groin can also raise the temperature inside your scrotum. That could create a too-warm environment that’s also bad for your sperm, he says.
 

SPERM-DAMAGING HABIT: STRESSING OUT

Men with higher levels of perceived stress have worse sperm quality than men who report feeling less stressed, a study from Columbia University found. Too much stress might throw your reproductive hormones out of whack, or lead to the creation of inflammatory proteins that hurt sperm, Dr. Nangia says.
 

No matter what’s eating at you, find ways to keep your worries from getting out of control - like talking with your partner, making time to exercise, or looping in a pro if your stress remains sky-high, suggests Dr. Nangia.
 

SPERM-DAMAGING HABIT: KEEPING YOUR SMARTPHONE IN YOUR PANTS POCKET

Cell phone exposure may hurt the way your sperm move and decrease the number that are swimming around, a recent British review of 10 studies concluded. The radiation emitted from phones could cause DNA damage to sperm. And the heat from a phone could raise the temperature inside your scrotum and hamper sperm production, researchers say.
 

Does that mean you need to ditch your device altogether? Probably not, Dr. Nangia says. But if you’re concerned, talk with your doctor. If you have your phone in your pocket all day, every day, it might be worth finding ways to reduce your exposure, like sticking your phone in your jacket pocket.
 

SPERM-DAMAGING HABIT: DRINKING TOO MUCH

An occasional beer or glass of wine with dinner isn’t a big deal. But research has linked heavier drinking to lower testosterone levels, lower sperm counts, and smaller numbers of healthy sperm.
 

Drinking 25 or more drinks per week is linked to a significant decline in sperm quality, one Danish study found. And guys who downed 40 drinks per week had 33 percent lower sperm counts and 51 percent less healthy sperm than those who drank only 1 to 5 drinks a week.
 

“Alcohol is a toxin,” Dr. Nangia says. And your brain isn’t the only thing it hurts - alcohol can also lower your testosterone levels, which can hurt your sperm production.
 

If you think that your drinking might be affecting your fertility, talk with your doctor. Together, you can come up with a plan to cut back.

LATEST Health STORIES


How Masturbating And Other Habits Can Make You Healthy

BY ALISA HRUSTIC, CHRISTA SGOBBA, JULIE STEWART

August 11, 2017

We asked 25 top health and wellness experts to spill the one thing thatíll get you there


Hereís What You Need To Know About Vitamin C

BY DENISE LIM

August 11, 2017

We found out what the experts have to say about the micronutrient


​How Green Tea Can Ease Your Painful, Sensitive Teeth

BY CHRISTA SGOBBA

August 10, 2017

It might protect against cavities, too



4 Malaysian Habits That Affect Your Respiratory Health

BY denise lim

August 9, 2017

These everyday practices are doing more harm than good


When Youíre Most Likely To Have A Heart Attack

BY CHRISTA SGOBBA

August 7, 2017

And the reason why some times spell more trouble than others for your ticker


6 Reasons You Should Replace Your Pillow

BY PATRICK HUGUENIN

August 3, 2017

It could be hurting your neck, your sleep, and your sex life



Eating Avocados May Help Slow Down Your Brainís Aging

BY CHRISTA SGOBBA

July 31, 2017

You might want to beef up your servings of leafy greens, too


This Man Is Way Older Than You Think

BY gus turner

July 28, 2017

​Here's what he chalks up to looking so young at his age


The 7 Worst Things You Do When You Just Canít Sleep

BY elizabeth millard

July 21, 2017

Your go-to habits might actually be keeping you awake


IN THE MAGAZINE

Men's Health Malaysia

Men's Health on Instagram