The History of the Semen Analysis

A peek into the fascinating history of one of medicine’s most awkward tests.

<< Topics | Get Tested

When you think of getting a “semen analysis,” you most likely imagine going to a clinic, being handed a cup, and asked to get down with yourself in a private room. After that, your sample is taken by a random person in scrubs who uses a microscope to do some kind of technical magic and report a bunch of data. As surprising as it may seem, it wasn’t always like this. This article offers you a window into how people of the past understood male fertility, semen, and sperm.

Before Microscopes

Thousands of years ago, when togas and chariots were actual things people used for clothing and transportation (not just Halloween costumes and frat parties), magnification capabilities were pretty sparse. Most ideas about sperm were based solely on what people could see in front of them. Many different groups of people understood that fertility was a condition that varied among men and women. Because women bore children, fertility was more attributed to the female anatomy. But theories about male fertility certainly existed.

For example, Ancient Egyptians believed that sperm originated in the bones of a man. Because bones were white (and so was semen), Egyptians were under the impression that all white-colored parts of the child born were made solely with the bone of the man – eyes, teeth, and internal bones. Ancient Romans thought that both men and women produced semen. The “strength” of the woman’s or the man’s semen would determine the sex of the child. If both were strong, a boy would be born; if both were weak, a girl would be born; and if one were weak or strong, the stronger semen would win out.

Obviously, with current technology, we have determined that sperm doesn’t originate in the bones of a man, and the strength of a man’s semen has nothing to do with the gender of their child. But, the way in which these communities attempted to understand what was happening during sex and childbirth is really a testament to their brilliance. In truth, these are the first semen analyses. They may not have numbers, but they definitely used logic where technology was lacking. We give them an “A” for effort.

Anton van Leeuwenhoek

A replica of Anton van Leeuwenhoek’s microscope.

Although science and biology advanced after ancient times, no human (on record) was able to see actual sperm cells until 1677. Anton van Leeuwenhoek was a master craftsman of drapery, politics, and, well, lens making. Van Leeuwenhoek developed a unique method to produce more focused lenses to incorporate in microscopes. These self-invented microscopes had the capability to see the threading of the cloth Van Leeuwenhoek sold, and living cells. According to letters Van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the British Royal Society (Van Leeuwenhoek never published any written work on his findings), he discovered aquatic microorganisms (infusoria), bacteria, and individual parts of a cell with his microscopes.

A portion of Van Leeuwenhoek’s letter to the British Royal Society explaining his observations of human sperm cells.

In 1677, Van Leeuwenhoek was able to view sperm cells from two semen samples: his own, and his student apprentice, Johan Ham (imagine what an awkward day at work that must have been). After viewing spermatozoa in both samples, Van Leeuwenhoek wrote another letter to the Royal Society describing what he saw: I “observed a multitude of ‘animalcules,’ less than a millionth the size of a coarse grain of sand and with thin, undulating tails.” Van Leeuwenhoek’s “animalcules” description implied his belief that each cell held a smaller version of a human, and when born, would grow into a normal sized person. In addition to the shape and quantity of cells, Van Leeuwenhoek also observed that these small creatures were motile.

Van Leeuwenhoek included a sketch of what he saw in his letter to the Royal Society. This sketch, depicted here, is nearly spot on. Van Leeuwenhoek acknowledged that all the sperm cells he saw weren’t identical. There were different shapes (morphology), moving tails (motility), still tails. This drawing, along with Van Leeuwenhoek’s accompanying letter that included all his observations provided a basis for how semen would be analyzed and understood for generations to come. Van Leeuwenhoek’s analysis of Johan Ham’s semen sample and his own is, truly, the first semen analysis on record. Check out this podcast to learn more about Van Leeuwenhoek and his

Now: What do clinics actually do with a semen sample?

After collecting a semen sample at a clinic, most men do not follow their sample through analysis. This process is usually done behind closed doors, and results are reported a few days later. Although technology has certainly advanced in every regard, the way in which a semen sample is analyzed in a clinic or lab is, for the most part, the same thing Van Leeuwenhoek did in 1677: microscopy. Essentially, technicians take a small portion of the sample you produced to look at under a scope and measure unique parameters such as morphology, motility, and concentration.

An example image of what a technician sees when using a microscope to analyze a semen sample.

Methods for microscopic analysis can vary, however. Some labs use a CASA (computer-aided semen analysis), which is a semi-automated computerized machine that gives technicians a zoomed in view of sperm cells on a computer monitor. CASAs can measure thousands of sperm cells in minutes, if not seconds. At other places, technicians look through very specialized microscopes to note sperm count and possibly, motility percentage. As you can imagine, this method is certainly more taxing and variable from technician to technician. Either way, these parameters are recorded and ported into a report that is made available to patients.

Other parameters such as volume, pH level, viscosity, liquefaction time, fructose, presence of white blood cells, and vitality are also included in semen analysis reports. Read our article Understand Your Semen Analysis to learn more about these parameters. Although Van Leeuwenhoek didn’t necessarily understand that there were other more complicated measurements to record about sperm, he did give future generations the ability to focus in and begin to understand male fertility. Thanks, Anton (and Johan Ham).

References

Gilbert, Scott F. “Anton Von Leeuwenhoek and His Perception of Spermatozoa.” Developmental Biology 10e Online. Sinauer Associates, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

Gordon, Andrew Hunt & Schwabe, Calvin W. The Quick And The Dead: Biomedical Theory In Ancient Egypt, Brill 2004.

“History of Infertility.” Arizona Center for Fertility Studies, 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

Prathima, T., S. Ranjani, and N. Pandiyan. “From the Pages of History: History of Semen Analysis.” Chettinad Health City Medical Journal 4.1 (2015): 63-64. Chettinad Super Speciality Hospital. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

Sauneron, Serge. The Priests of Ancient Egypt. New York, NY: Grove, 1960. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

Superfoods for Improving Male Fertility

Is your diet slowing down your swimmers? You’d be surprised by how much your diet could be affecting your sperm. Let us help. DCYB wants your swimmers to be all they can be, so we’ve made a list of the top 12 male fertility superfoods. These foods are all only a grocery trip away, so check out these superfoods, chocked full of essential fertility nutrients, and let’s chow down.

Is your diet slowing down your swimmers? You’d be surprised by how much your diet could be affecting your sperm. Let us help. DCYB wants your swimmers to be all they can be, so we’ve made a list of the top 12 male fertility superfoods. These foods are all only a grocery trip away, so check out these superfoods, chocked full of essential fertility nutrients, and let’s chow down.

Tomatoes

Fruit? Vegetable? Either way, this superfood is ready to boost your sperm count. The tomato contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can improve sperm count and swimming speed by reducing potentially damaging ROS. The best part? The lycopene in tomatoes is most easily absorbed by your body when cooked. This means that eating pizza (in moderation) could help increase your sperm count. That’s something we can get behind.

Garlic

Not only is it useful for keeping Twilight fans away, garlic also contains vitamin B-6. While you’ve probably never really given B-6 much thought, it’s crucial in regulating your sex hormones. In addition to improving fertility, garlic is traditionally thought of as an aphrodisiac due its high amount of allicin, a chemical thought to increase blood flow to sex organs and increase libido. Like all things, enjoy moderation. While a little garlic can do wonders for your fertility, too much garlic can inhibit sperm production, so garlic can be used most effectively in moderation as a seasoning.

Sweet Potato

You might have seen sweet potatoes in their most dietarily dangerous form at Thanksgiving. Doused in butter and smothered in marshmallows, the sweet potato can seem more like a weird dessert than a superfood. But when prepared in the right way, sweet potatoes can be a savory side that gets your swimmers ready for action. Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, a chemical that your body converts into antioxidants, which can prevent sperm fro being damaged by ROS. They also contain large amounts of vitamin A, which has been known to help keep sperm actively swimming.

Chicken/Turkey

Gobbling up lean proteins like turkey and chicken can whip your swimmers into lean, mean, baby making machines. Chicken and turkey both contain selenium,a key mineral in sperm formation. They also contain high amounts of zinc, a mineral that is essential for DNA production, as well as promoting healthy testosterone levels. Chicken contains an antioxidant called L-carnitine, an amino acid that protects young sperm cells from ROS.

Seafood

Seafood is a heavy hitter of fertility health. They contain nearly every fertility boosting vitamin and mineral, such as Coenzyme Q10, an energy producing antioxidant that keeps your swimmers fueled and protects them from ROS. Seafood is rich in selenium, a mineral that can help your thyroid regulate sperm production hormones, as well as helping your sperm maintain a healthy shape, meaning that your sperm can live longer and swim better. It’s also full of the protective antioxidant, vitamin E. Shellfish are high in zinc, while oily fish contain omegas 3 and 6, which assist in sperm motility.

Fortified Bread/Cereal

Carbs aren’t always a bad thing. Today, the majority of bread and cereals contain large amounts of folic acid, which ensures that your body can produce high quality DNA. Most fortified breads and cereals contain niacin, a vitamin that helps create sex hormones and regulates blood flow, meaning it could help alleviate erectile dysfunction. They also contain vitamin D, which can increase testosterone, sperm count, and maintain semen quality. So go ahead, have that bowl of Lucky Charms.

Avocado

Avocados are a great source for three vital nutrients to help your fertility and sperm. For one, avocados are a source of Coenzyme Q10, which with its unique molecular structure, is a great source of energy and protection for sperm. Avocados are also a source of L-carnitine, which helps sperm generate energy more rapidly to ensure ongoing sperm development. Lastly, avocados provide men with a great source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, binds with harmful sperm by-products called reactive oxygen species (ROS) to protect sperm from damage and fatality. Avocados essentially provide men and their sperm with a triple threat to disarm the evil forces feeding infertility!

Walnuts

Warning: We’re about to get a little nuts here. Walnuts that is! Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 acids, which are connected to better sperm quality. Walnuts are also a source of Coenzyme Q10. Like many of the foods listed here, the Coenzyme Q10 in walnuts protect sperm, while also helping sperm generate energy more efficiently. Unlike a lot of the Superfoods listed here, a handful of walnuts can be eaten everyday! Go ahead, get crackin’ and munch on a few walnuts.

Berries

For male fertility, berries are more than just a burst of tangy sweetness. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are rich in vitamin C, which helps prevent sperm from clumping together, which is known as aggultinisation. This great source of vitamin C also enables the creation of key amino acids required to produce sperm. Vitamin C can also protect sperm from both external and internal toxins, which ultimately improves motility, morphology, and DNA integrity. Berries are the all time protectors of your sperm.

Dark Chocolate

Although “dark,” don’t think of dark chocolate as evil. Dark chocolate is the mysterious batman, hiding in the dark of the night, slyly handing you the keys to a polished and loaded bat mobile ready for supreme baby-making. For one, dark chocolate is known to reduce hypertension, which helps men appropriately rise to the occasion. Dark chocolate also contains strong antioxidants, which help develop and protect sperm from damage. But be sure not to eat too much dark chocolate! That mistake could contribute to a very unhealthy lifestyle. It’s all about moderation!

Beef

Don’t worry—if you’re thinking this isn’t real, we will repeat it: Beef is on this list of superfoods. You don’t have to give up this wondrous food. Actually, beef is extremely helpful for your sperm. If eaten in moderation, beef gives your sperm great chances in survival and fertilization. Like avocados, beef is a source of Coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine, which both help protect sperm and ensure sperm’s future development. Beef also contains zinc, which is critical for male fertility all around. Zinc helps with DNA production and is a building block for testosterone, semen, the prostrate, and sperm themselves. Beef also contains selenium, which in small doses helps maintain and strengthen the production, structure, and lifespan of sperm. Pretty great, right? But remember, beef is only good for your fertility diet in moderation!

Greens

Green vegetables, such as arugula, kale and romaine are the kind of leafy goodness that can strengthen your sperm against the horrors that surround them. Vitamin A is prominent in leafy greens, which keeps your sperm strong and prepared for their race to the egg. Leafy greens also contain folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that has antioxidant properties that are vital in keeping your sperm free from chromosomal abnormalities. Leafy greens give sperm the chance to be extraordinary.

Aren’t superfoods SUPER?

With the foods listed above, you can see how easy it is for you to boost your sperm count and fertility. These foods are readily available at a supermarket near you! If you want some ideas on how to put all these together, click here to find some awesome recipes. But don’t forget, these superfoods lose their powers if you eat them too often and alone (except for walnuts). It’s all about balance and moderation! There is a thing as too much is TOO MUCH. Also, remember that these foods are good to help your fertility. A low sperm count can usually be boosted by a change in diet. But if you suffer from other infertility disorders or irregularities, change in nutrient in-take can only help so much. If change in diet still does not improve your sperm count or fertility condition, there are other treatments and options you have at your disposal. Superfoods are here to help you help your sperm! Give your sperm the chance to be the best they can be with a healthy and balanced diet. Superfoods, assemble!

References

Al-Bekairi, AM, AH Shah, and S. Quereshi. “Effect of Allium Sativum on Epididymal Spermatozoa, Estradiol-treated Mice and General Toxicity.”Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2 (1990): 117-25. National Center for Biotechnology Information.<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2374426#>.

Schmid, Thomas E., Brenda Eskenazi, Francesco Marchetti, Suzanne Young, Rosana H. Weldon, Adolf Baumgartner, Diana Anderson, and Andrew J. Wyrobek. “Micronutrients Intake Is Associated with Improved Sperm DNA Quality In older Men.” Fertility and Sterility 98.5 (2012): 1130-137.]

Mora-Esteves, Cesar, and David Shin. “Nutrient Supplementation: Improving Male Fertility Fourfold.” Seminars in Reproductive Medicine 31.04 (2013): 293-300.

Bedwal, R. S., and A. Bahuguna. “Zinc, Copper and Selenium in Reproduction.”Experientia 50.7 (1994): 626-40. Print.

Effects of folic acid and zinc sulfate on male factor subfertility: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Wong, Wai Yee et al. Fertility and Sterility , Volume 77 , Issue 3 , 491 – 498

Lewin, Aby, and Haim Lavon. “The Effect of Coenzyme Q10 on Sperm Motility and Function.” Molecular Aspects of Medicine 18 (1997): 213-19. Print.

Sikka, S. C., Rajasekaran, M. and Hellstrom, W. J. G. (1995), Role of Oxidative Stress and Antioxidants in Male Infertility. Journal of Andrology, 16: 464–468.

Delimaris, Ioannis, and Stylianos M. Piperakis. “The Importance of Nutritional Factors on Human Male Fertility: A Toxicological Approach.” Journal of Translational Toxicology 1.1 (2014): 52-59. Print.

Robbins, W. A., L. Xun, L. Z. Fitzgerald, S. Esguerra, S. M. Henning, and C. L. Carpenter. “Walnuts Improve Semen Quality in Men Consuming a Western-Style Diet: Randomized Control Dietary Intervention Trial.”Biology of Reproduction 87.4 (2012): 101. Print.

Let’s Talk about Sex

Sex while trying to conceive can be stressful and wrought with questions. What matters? What doesn’t? How often you have sex, sex drive, and what happens during sex can determine whether or not you make a baby.

Salt-N-Pepa really wanted to talk about sex – and so do we. Some people are under the impression that sex, just sex, is enough to make a baby. It’s actually more complicated than that. How often you have sex, sex drive, and what happens during sex can determine whether or not you make a baby.

 

First, let’s define “ejaculation”

Sometimes the word “ejaculation” can be intimidating and confusing. Here’s a simple way to think of it: if something shoots out, you’ve ejaculated. Men usually ejaculate when they reach orgasm. That means you can ejaculate even when you’re not having intercourse with your partner.

 

Let’s get it on… But how often?

Too often

There’s nothing like putting on some Marvin Gaye to set the mood. But is setting the mood too often the right answer to make a baby? Although you may want to argue otherwise, there is such a thing as having “too much” sex. It all comes down to biology. The more you ejaculate, the more healthy sperm cells escape. This doesn’t mean that because you lost sperm cells that your body will compensate and develop sperm in larger quantities in less time. Your body is on a schedule. It’ll make sperm at its own pace. That means that if you have sex and ejaculate everyday (or multiple times a day), your sperm count (and the overall quality of cells) can decrease dramatically.

Not often enough

On the other hand, if you’re not ejaculating on a regular basis (a few times a week), this could also contribute to decreased chances of conception. Sperm cells have a lifespan of about five days. This means that if sperm cells are not ejaculated during this production time, they will die in storage. When you finally ejaculate, most of the cells will be dead and not viable for conception.

Juuuust right

So how often should you get it on? Most experts advise that ejaculating every 2-3 days will produce the most consistent sperm counts for men. Typically, on a schedule like this, it will take from 6 months to a year to conceive a baby. If you’re still trying and it’s taken over this time, you may want to consider making lifestyle changes to boost your fertility, or consult with a specialist or your doctor.

 

Sex drive

Wanting to have sex also plays a major role in making a baby. You should have a desire to have sex. Sex should feel good. For one, having a decent to strong sex drive can help you experience a more intense orgasm that will help sperm get a decent start on their journey to fertilize the egg. In addition, a healthy sex drive can mean that your body is at a good balance and that you are not experiencing other, more harmful medical issues.

However, if your sex drive is low, or the sex you do have is rigid, conceiving a child may be much more difficult. In some cases this loss of sex drive could be the result of the pressure to have a baby. We would recommend that you ask your partner to take a break. A little breathing room can be a perfect way to reinvigorate your relationship in the bedroom.

A weak sex drive can also mean that your body is suffering from more serious issues. Lack of libido is known to be a symptom of obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, elevated stress levels and low T (low testosterone). If it’s been low for a while, check in with your physician. Your body might be telling you that something else is going on.

 

Let’s get down to business

Boyz II Men set a pretty high bar when they sang “I’ll make love to you, like you want me to.” Contrary to the smooth sounds of R&B, sex is definitely not easy. A lot of things can happen during sex. Things can get messy and confusing, body parts flailing everywhere. But just like a sport, sex takes practice to get it right. And even when you think you’ve gotten it right, there is still work to be done. I mean Michael Jordan wasn’t born a legend – I guess some people would argue against that. But he was definitely rusty after that baseball fling. So try to have fun during this time with your partner. Good sex is good for baby making.

Here’s a list of more alarming things that could happen during sex that may need more attention:

Erectile Dysfunction

Around 20% of all men will experience some inability to get or maintain an erection in their lives. For many young men, experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) is the result of anxiety. This anxiety can stem from the pressure to have a baby. Like in the case with low sex drive, if this may be what you’re experiencing, taking a break from baby making can help to relieve anxiety. For older men, ED can be an early sign of cardiovascular disease. In other cases, ED may also be a symptom of the following lifestyles and medical conditions:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Obesity
  • Narcotics use
  • Prescription drug abuse

For more comprehensive information, check out our article on Erectile Dysfunction.

Premature ejaculation

Like ED, men can experience premature ejaculation at some point in their lives. Premature ejaculation (PE) refers to the act of ejaculating before you reach orgasm. Experts are at odds when it comes to premature ejaculation and conception. More research is being conducted to flesh out if PE can lead to conception. Some causes of premature ejaculation include:

  • An enlarged prostate gland
  • Stress
  • Performance anxiety
  • Varicocele

Other studies have shown that certain medications used to treat premature ejaculation like escitalopram, which is also an antidepressant, can cause harmful damage to sperm count, motility and morphology.

Retrograde ejaculation

Men who experience what is called a “dry orgasm” do not ejaculate any form of semen even when they’ve reached orgasm. Without external ejaculation, conceiving a child is not likely. If you experience this kind of non-ejaculation, it does not necessarily mean that you are not producing semen. The semen that you are producing is reverse ejaculating and shooting into your bladder. After you orgasm, you may notice that your urine is a bit cloudy. This is the mixing of your urine and the semen you previously reverse ejaculated. Some causes of this condition include:

  • Medications taken for high blood pressure, heart disease, or prostrate enlargement
  • Prostrate surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis, or other conditions that can cause nerve damage
  • Surgeries that have impacted the the bladder muscles

Although retrograde ejaculation is not necessarily dangerous to your overall health, it does cause infertility. But there are things you can do to repair this condition. Learn about these next steps here.

Pain or discomfort

Any sort of pain you experience is usually a sign that your body requires some attention. Same goes for down there. If you experience testicular pain or discomfort before, during or after sex, your body is probably telling you that something might need fixing. Typical reasons for this pain and discomfort include the following:

If the pain is consistent during each session of intercourse or even long after, consult a doctor even if you do not suspect one of the above conditions. If any testicular surgery is necessary, be sure to check in with an experienced and well-established urologist to discuss how surgery will affect your fertility and future family building options.

Blood in semen (Hematospermia or hemospermia)

If you notice blood in your ejaculate, this could mean various things. One instance with the presence of blood in semen could be an isolated event that deems no worries. The process of ejaculating is biologically complicated with many muscles working at the same time. This kind of intensity may in itself be enough to cause bleeding. For young men under the age of 40, blood in semen may be a symptom of some sort of infection. For older men, this may be a symptom of prostate complications or cancer. If you notice that there is blood in your semen more than once, see a doctor immediately.

 

The Highlights

1. Have sex every 2-3 days to get the most optimal sperm counts and quality.

2. Have fun during sex. And if it’s getting a little too stressful, take a break for a while. This may help reignite your flame in the bedroom.

3. Sex won’t be perfect at first. It’s a time of learning and exploring. Enjoy it! And if anything alarming happens, see a doctor.

Here’s a little something to help set the mood. You’re welcome.

Are Helmets Doing Enough?

Helmets protect your head.  Knee and elbow pads protect your joints.  But what about your balls?  Although biking is a great way to stay fit, many studies agree that too much cycling can overcook a man’s balls.

Some History and Horses

Saddles have been known to disturb men’s reproductive system for longer than you’d think.  Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician known for his contributions to medicine, observed how horseback riding affected males, specifically Scythians, a nomadic and horse-riding people — yeehaw.  He noted that men who rode horses more often and for longer distances would be ‘unfit for intercourse’ and ‘forget about sexual passion.’  In more technical terms, Hippocrates noticed that these equestrian heroes experienced erectile dysfunction and libido, which are indicators of reproductive problems and other serious medical conditions, like stress, heart disease or diabetes.  Although Hippocrates did not inspect Scythian testicles, he understood that the combination of balls and saddles made for more than just a good horse ride.

A Triple Threat

1. The Gear

Exercising in general naturally increases the body’s internal temperature.  Exercise paired with tight clothing is a whole new level of ‘hot.’  You’re basically wearing a really tight speedo, helping your balls defy gravity.  Unfortunately, tight gear is usually what bicyclists (especially competitive cyclists) wear, and rightly so — tight clothing makes you more agile and swift like a bike.  However, a heated scrotum is not ideal for fertility.  It is generally accepted that higher scrotal temperatures can cause deleterious effects on spermatogenesis.  Studies have shown that sperm concentration and count plummet when balls are overheated.  So give your buddies a chance to breathe and let them do what they do naturally: hang.

2. The Bike 

How a bike is built can also impact fertility.  Where the handlebars are and the shape and material of the saddle can determine what parts of your body will bear the majority of the strain during a ride.  Most bikes have narrow saddles made with hard padding that causes extreme discomfort and stress.  Handlebars are sometimes positioned at heights that put even more pressure and heat on the pelvic and testicular areas.  All of that is just bad news for your balls.  Not only do cyclists wear tight fitting clothing that alone can increase temperatures down there, but rubbing up against a hard slab of leather certainly doesn’t help.

Sadly enough, one study has shown that it can get even worse.  The combination of a hard saddle and the constant movement of thighs against the same area can cause torsion of the testis — Ouch!  Without any medical treatment or repair, this kind of injury can result in significant damage to male fertility.

3. The Ride

Studies show that the longer and the more often you ride your bike, the more likely your scrotal temperature will drastically increase.  Many competitive cyclists and triathletes not only practice regularly for hours on end, but their races can literally span an entire day.  This kind of stress on the body, including the reproductive system, can cause major damage to fertility measurements.  In one study that measured both spermatic parameters and exercise routines, experts found that men who biked more than five times a week had lower sperm concentration.  In addition to the tight gear and build of the bike, the time spent biking only adds to the amount of heat your balls are exposed to.

What Should You Do Now? 

Recreational riders are usually not in harms way, but serious cyclists may need to make more adjustments to how often their rides are and with what equipment they choose to use.  If conceiving a child naturally is a goal of yours, you may want to consider alternative forms of exercise, or at least cut down on riding that saddle.

If parting with your two wheeler is just too much, there’s some new equipment out there that could help.  Since cycling has seen an increase in popularity, some companies have created new saddles that are less harmful to the testicular region.  Most of these saddles are made of softer padding and designs that are meant to reduce stress and pressure on your balls.

Otherwise, take a break from cycling and give your balls a chance to cool down.

 

References

  • Southorn, Tom. “Great Bals of Fire and the Vicious Cycle: A Study of the Effects of Cycling on Male Fertility.” The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care (2002): 211-13.
  • Jung, A.,Taylor, John A., Tzu-Cheg Kao, Peter C. Albertsen, and Ridwan Shabsigh. “Bicycle Riding And Its Relationship To The Development Of Erectile Dysfunction.” The Journal of Urology 172.3 (2004): 1028-031. P. Strauß, H. J. Lindner, and H. Schuppe. “Influence of Moderate Cycling on Scrotal Temperature.” International Journal of Andrology(2007): 403-07.
  • Gebreegziabher, Y., E. Marcos, W. McKinon, and G. Rogers. “Sperm Characteristics of Endurance Trained Cyclists.” International Journal of Sports Medicine 25.4 (2004): 247-51.
  • Vaamonde, D., M. Da Silva, M. Poblador, and J. Lancho. “Reproductive Profile of Physically Active Men After Exhaustive Endurance Exercise.” International Journal of Sports Medicine 27.9 (2006): 680-89.

 

Eat Like A Man

Despite the craze around consuming a human sized burrito in one hour, a diet heavily made up of fried and fatty foods is not the kind of diet that will keep a man or his sperm healthy.  Let’s go over some useful tips that will help men maintain a healthy diet while keeping sperm in tip-top shape.

1)  Eat like a caveman: That’s the key to a Paleo diet.  Whatever a caveman was able to find, you can eat.  The Paleo diet is basically a high on all natural and nutritional foods.  For example, fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts would be great for this diet.  For protein, anything that is not in any way processed, such as eggs, would also be acceptable.  So how does this diet improve your fertility?   Most of these natural foods are high in nutrients such as vitamins B12, C, D and zinc, which are lacking in most processed foods.  Deficiencies in these nutrients can cause damaged sperm and low counts.  The Paleo diet ensures that you get these nutrients in a healthy way that can help boost your fertility parameters.

2)   Fruits and veggies: Green giant looks similar to the hulk—he’s green, huge, and unbelievably muscular.  Big difference: the hulk gets this way when he gets angry and the green giant ate his veggies.  Unless anger really makes your muscles enlarge in five seconds, you’re probably better off following suit of green giant.  Instead of fries, order a salad or a cup of fruit.  Shying away from fatty, unhealthy foods can help you get lean and produce sperm that is stronger and more numerous.

3)  Water for beer: Beer wouldn’t be beer without water, and well a whole lot of other ingredients.  Get back down to basics and trade in that pint for a tall glass of water every once in a while.  Beer will be there tomorrow, don’t worry it’s not going away and you don’t have to give it up altogether.  But consuming too much alcohol can really take a toll on your body and your sperm.  Symptoms may not be so immediate, but those beer bellies will develop and can lead to major complications in your health and fertility.

4)   Exercise: Every good diet is best served with a side of exercise.  More than just eating better, men need to also commit some time during the week to exercise.  Whether that be lifting weights, biking, or a run after work.  In most cases, a good diet is not enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  In terms of fertility, consistent exercise keeps hormone levels steady which results in consistent production of sperm.  However, over exertion, seen mainly in ultra-athletes, can lead to excess amounts of strain and stress on the body.  This could actually harm your sperm by causing an imbalance of testosterone levels.

5)   Keeping a balance: Probably one of the most important tips we have is to keep a balance—for your diet and exercise.  A source of protein is important, but too much could be harmful and lead to extreme weight gain.  Daily exercise is key, but pushing your body passed its limits can cause major strain on your balls.  According to one study, over-exertion, particularly biking for more that five times a week has been associated with lower sperm concentration.  So remember, maintaining a balance is vital to also maintaining healthy sperm.

Eating like a man is eating to be healthy.  For some men, their metabolism tricks them into thinking that they can eat anything at all and their bodies will stay healthy forever.  That’s not true.  Despite how you looked and felt as an adolescent, your body will catch up with you and those late nights with a pack of beer, fries, and a triple-triple can catch up to you and make it harder for you to live a healthy life and have children.  Be a man and stay healthy!

 

Listen In: Fertility Revolution Podcast

Every fertility journey is different.  For our DCYB editor, Sara Naab, her fertility journey began when she was 23 in her Ob/Gyn’s office for a regular check-up.  Listen in to her interview with Fertility Revolution’s Julie Chang, where Sara describes how she started Don’t Cook your Balls and really became passionate about the male fertility space.

When Sara Naab was 23, her Ob/Gyn told her that she would have a very difficult time conceiving.  Sara took this shocking information and turned her life around.  Within a few years, Sara became a tri-athlete and completely transformed the way she approached her health.  As a result, she lost nearly 70lbs.

Now, as a mother to three beautiful boys, Sara is proud that she was able to change her life so dramatically for the better.  However, in this interview, Sara also admits how difficult and trying her journey was.  She encourages everyone to listen more attentively to their bodies and begin to make the changes necessary to live happy and healthy lives.  She advises that “living a healthy life is your very first line of defense” to combat future fertility issues.

Inspired by her own journey and the technology her husband, Ulrich Schaff invented at Sandia National Labs in Livermore, California, Sara has really dedicated her life to making a space for men to learn about male factor infertility.  Through Don’t Cook your Balls and Trak, a male fertility monitoring device that is set to be available in the coming year, Sara has risen as a leader and expert in the male fertility field.

To listen in on the podcast, click here.

Fertility Revolution

Fertility Revolution is a 5 day a week podcast hosted by Julie Chang, who interviews fertility experts and educators.  This site is meant to be a source of inspiration and support for everyone on their fertility journey.  In addition to the podcasts, Fertility Revolution also hosts guest bloggers who all have experienced different fertility journeys.  To learn more visit their site at www.fertilityrevolution.com

Drive 4 Men’s Health

It is officially Men’s Health Month!  Doctors, health advocates and families all over are celebrating this month by putting together different kinds of events and campaigns to bring awareness to men and their families.  We’ve gotten in touch with a few guys who came up with one pretty awesome idea.

The Drive

Doctors Sijo Parekattil and Jamin Brahmbhat are both urologists and co-directors of The PUR Clinic (Personalized Urology & Robotics) in Central Florida.  These guys decided to spread men’s health by driving in an all-electric Tesla S from Clermont, Florida to New York City from June 12 to June 13, stopping only to charge up and educate men on staying healthy.   They will be traveling a total of 1,100 miles in one car, aimed at reaching 3.5 billion men.

And you don’t have to be in the car or on the east coast to join the marathon!  They will be live-streaming the entire event using Google Glass.  See what they’re doing now to prep for the drive:

Why Drive?

Dr. Parekattil and Dr. Brahmbhat have made it their mission to “increase awareness of men’s health and to encourage men to make their health a priority.”  By having a myriad of guest speakers at each stop and free health screenings, these doctors want to provide men with the top medical advice and research focused on keeping men healthy.  Get a full list of speakers and stops here.

To learn more about the drivers and Drive for Men’s Health, visit their website at www.drive4menshealth.com

Snack: Nut Up Trail Mix

Ingredients:

1 cup of dried strawberries
1 cup of fresh almonds
½ cup of pumpkin seeds
1 cup of walnuts
½ cup of dark chocolate chips

Directions
1. In a large bowl, mix dried strawberries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts with a large spoon or hands.
2. Be sure to mix the dark chocolate last. The more you mix the dark chocolate the great the risk of it melting.
*The ingredients list above is not fixed. You can add more or less of certain ingredients you do or do not enjoy. You can also make larger portions of the recipe to store for a week or longer.
Difficulty: 1
Time: 5 minutes

Smoothie: Hulk Up

Ingredients:

½ avocado
½- ¾ rice milk or alternative (make the smoothie smooth—do not put too much of this!)
¼ cup of pistachios
2 Peeled Bananas
1 Kale leaf

Directions:
1. Put all ingredients in blender.
2. Blend until fully mixed and smooth.
3. Drink with a straw or chug.

Difficulty: 1

Time: 10-15 minutes

Lunch: Shellfish for your Swimmers

Ingredients:

12 fresh* oysters
Tabasco hot sauce
1 lemon
Tools:
Heavy gloves
Stiff brush (like a toothbrush)
Oyster knife or any other knife with a heavy blade so it does not snap during shucking
Bucket/cooler of ice

Directions
1. If your oysters are not yet cleaned, be sure to use a brush to rid each oyster of any sand or grit. Then run the oyster through cold water.
2. Keep the oysters in a bucket/cooler until you are completely ready to begin shucking and eating your oysters.
3. Each oyster has a basic anatomy where a hinge is visible to place your knife. With your heavy gloves on, and a stern hold of your knife, place the sharp edge of your knife into this hinge and push down. Once you have partially opened the oyster, use the knife to completely open the oyster.
4. Put about two drops of Tabasco onto the oyster meat itself.
5. Squeeze a little lemon onto the meat.
6. Using a fork or cocktail fork, wiggle the oyster loose from its shell and consume fully.
*If you intend on eating the oysters fresh, be sure that the oysters are still alive before you shuck them. If they have already expired, they are not safe to eat. Oysters that are opened before you shuck them are usually already dead. Also, fun tip: oyster season is, oddly enough, in all the months with an “r”: January, February, March, April, September, October, November, & December.
Difficult: 3
Time: 10 minutes