For obvious reasons, having healthy sperm is important, especially for procreation. But, looking beyond its crucial role in conception, there are numerous not-so-obvious reasons why sperm health should be a personal goal, such as testicle and prostate wellness.
According to healthcare information site Healio, compared with a normal sperm count, men with lower sperm counts have higher body mass indexes and blood pressure, and unhealthy levels of cholesterol.
Sperm is created at the core of a body. It is something precious that your body produces and can be shared intimately. Sperm symbolizes fertility and virility.
Testicles + Prostate Gland = Semen & Ejaculation
Sperm develops in the testicles. It’s not until puberty that testosterone and other hormones cause the testicles to begin producing sperm.
The prostate gland is also important when it comes to sperm by producing a fluid that, together with sperm cells from the testicles, makes up semen. According to InformedHealth.org, the prostate’s most important function is this production of fluid, while the prostate gland’s muscle forcefully pushes semen outwards during ejaculation.
And while it seems like sperm is always available, the full sperm regeneration cycle (spermatogenesis) actually takes approximately 64 days. However, even with a 64-day regeneration cycle, 1,500 sperm are produced every second. That means the average male body can produce roughly 525 billion sperm cells over the course of its lifetime.
Sperm as Life Force
Taoism is both a philosophy and a religion, and sex has always played a key part in its practices.
Taoists view sexual relations as earthly manifestation of universal principles, with their culture regarding sex to be natural and indispensable to human health. For Taoists, sex is not just about pleasing one partner. Both partners are recommended to be pleased in order to benefit from the act of sex.
Their belief is that when sex is pleasurable for both partners, the woman will create more jing and the man could more easily absorb the jing to increase his own qi, or vital life force. Thus, the transfer of power, or "Joining Energy", is the Chinese name for the way some Taoists practice sex.
This life force transfer to increase qi (energy) may be why some Taoist teachers recommend only ejaculating 20 to 30 percent of the times during sex, so that semen is not expelled. Essentially, they presume that there is a finite amount of energy available and by not ejaculating, sperm’s life force can be retained.
Practice Edging to Increase Ejaculation Control
The concept of orgasm control is not new. In ancient Taoist sexual practices, controlling climax and ejaculation played a substantial part of their beliefs. Some men were known to practice ‘edging’ by applying pressure on their perineum to keep sperm from being released.
I have recommended edging to my patients wishing to last longer in bed. Edging, also called peaking and surfing, is teaching yourself orgasm control. Edging is a practice where a person will masturbate until they are close to climax and then they stop, breathe through it, and back away from climaxing. Then they repeat these steps over and over. Most people tend to hold their breath during orgasm so consciously managing your breath can help lead to better climax control.
To master the skill of edging, I suggest practicing for about 5-10 minutes every other day. Using a handheld stroker may make practice easier by allowing different sensations, or even vibration, to play a part so that you’re better prepared for unique stimulations in the future.
The longer a person delays having an orgasm, the stronger the physical sensations will be when climax is reached. Edging may allow a person to prolong sex play and may also lead to more potent, satisfying orgasms as intimate muscles become stronger.
How Often Should You Ejaculate?
While a Harvard Medical study of nearly 32,000 males suggested that frequent ejaculation of 21 times or more a month may lower the risk of prostate cancer, another set of researchers recommended 8-16 times per month lowered the same risk.
So, from a medical standpoint, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive frequency for ejaculation.
However, there seem to be quite a few possible health benefits tied to ejaculation, including:
- Better Sleep
- Improved Sperm Quality
- Boosted Immune System
- Helpful Relieving Migraine Symptoms
- Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Oxytocin is also released during ejaculation/orgasm and is found to produce positive emotions, comfort in social and intimate environments, and reduction in stress.
Also released during ejaculation is dopamine, which has been found to influence positive emotions.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Sperm
Research has shown that sperm cells also age along with the male body, with a decline in semen volume and reduction in sperm mobility the older a person gets.
The Mayo Clinic states there are three common signs of unhealthy sperm:
- Problems with Sexual Function (low libido or E.D.)
- Pain, Swelling or Lump(s) in the Testicle Area
- Decreased Facial or Body Hair (possible signs of a hormone abnormality)
It’s also good to know that semen can sometimes change color. Healthy semen is most often a whitish-gray color. If you experience a significant change in the color of your semen, it’s important to seek medical advice for possible causes.
While yellow and green hues can be caused by diet, it can also be caused by jaundice, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and infrequent ejaculation. Vigorous sex or masturbation may cause semen to reflect a pink hue. And red, orange, and brown colors have a higher possibility of cause for concern and should be checked out immediately.
There are trained medical experts who can check sperm color, cell count, shape and movement, and other characteristics that measure overall sperm health.
Top Secrets for Healthy Sperm
1. Stop smoking.
According to St. Luke’s Health, smoking can decrease the size of sperm.
2. Decrease alcohol consumption.
St. Luke’s Health also recommends limiting alcohol intake because too much can affect the quality of sperm.
3. Manage weight.
Research has found obesity linked to infertility, with increased weight in men causing lower testosterone levels and poor sperm quality.
4. Reduce Stress.
Short and long-term stress has been found to reduce the concentration of sperm.
In addition to the recommendations above, a 2020 study by the Sexual Medicine Society of North America found men who use smartphones, tablets, and TVs at bedtime had lower sperm concentrations and poor sperm mobility. So, eliminating electronics at bedtime may be helpful.
Research also suggests that prolonged, strenuous bicycling might be linked to fertility disturbances in men. Bicycle seats that place pressure on soft tissue in the perineum can impair blood vessels and nerves over time, leading to erection problems and possible sperm issues.
Cyclists should seek seats with the proper width, shape and padding to help minimize pressure on soft tissue, helping to reduce the risk of some male reproductive-health problems.
Indira IVF Fertility Center also recommends specific foods that may help improve sperm quality:
- Citrus Fruits
- Whole Wheat and Grains
- Most Fish, especially Wild Salmon, Cod, and Haddock.
- Vitamin D-enhanced Milk and Milk Products
- Dark Chocolate
Supplements May Also Positively Affect Sperm Health
One study found males with low sperm counts who took 675 milligrams of ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng, daily for 90 days saw a 167% increase in their sperm count.
A compilation of 18 studies found an association between improved fertility in males with a higher level of vitamin D in their bloodstream.
While another study found fenugreek seeds significantly improved overall semen quality and sperm count.
No matter your own personal reason for desiring healthier sperm, as science and medicine continue to research ways to help your intimate health, you could have even more methods become available to boost the wellbeing of your sperm.
Is sperm care included in your overall health routine? Are there certain things that have made your sperm healthier? I would love to hear from you! Have a question about sex or sex toys? Let me know. I am here to help.