What is Sperm Health Anyway?
When a doctor tells you that you have a low sperm count, or that you don't have healthy sperm, what exactly does that mean? It is important to understand the definition of sperm health and to know what to do if you are told that your sperm aren't up to par. It's also important not to have your self esteem wrapped up in your sperm health - this is a medical condition and not something that you did wrong!
Defining Sperm Health
Sperm health includes five main factors that all contribute to the overall quality of the sperm. These are sperm count, sperm motility, sperm speed, sperm concentration and sperm morphology. In general, sperm require 74 days to fully mature and then another 20 days or so to become capable of fertilizing an egg. The average, healthy male has up to 600 million sperm in a single ejaculation! Semen contains a number of things besides sperm. It contains water, simple sugars, alkalies to protect the sperm against the acidic nature of the woman's vagina, prostaglandins (thought to aid in the sperm's passage into the womb), vitamin C, zinc, cholesterol and a few other items.
Making Conception Possible
As you can imagine, it is a very complicated process to figure out male infertility issues and to identify what is unhealthy when sperm is deemed unhealthy. Sperm needs to be present in sufficient numbers; it needs to be active and not clumped together; it needs to be in a specific shape and size; and it needs to move to and fertilize the egg without getting diverted by antibodies or other factors. When any one of these things doesn't work right, you may have what is called unhealthy sperm.
Studies on Sperm Health
Researches have determined the exact genetic pattern in healthy sperm and have published their findings in the journal Lancet. Researchers from three locations - the Environmental Protection Agency, Wayne State University and the University of Leeds, analyzed millions of sperm cells from healthy men who were fertile. From these samples, they were able to isolate a set of RNAs that seem to indicate what fertile semen needs to include. At the moment, approximately two thirds of male infertility cases cannot be explained by fertility specialists. These findings may help researchers to pinpoint the RNA that make up healthy sperm, and help those who are infertile to mimic, develop or increase these RNA strands.
How Do You Know If You Have Problems?
If you are trying to conceive and are having trouble doing so, it's time to see your doctor. At the doctor's office, you'll give them a sperm sample and this sample will be put through a number of tests to check for the five factors discussed above and for a number of other issues. If your doctor sees that everything looks fine, you may have one more sperm sample taken to rule out false-negative results. If either test shows a problem, you may be sent to a fertility specialist and be given advice about lifestyle changes, supplements, and more.
When evaluating your sperm health, it is very important to keep in mind that your sperm is not who you are! Many men fall into the trap of blaming themselves and having self esteem issues if they have unhealthy sperm. This is a physical issue and not one that reflects on you as a person or as a man. Seek the help that you need so that you can have healthy sperm and achieve the desired result - a healthy and lovely baby.