We hate to break it to you, but your man’s sperm count might be dwindling for a number of reasons. Sometimes, the cause is genetic, but environmental factors play a role, too. The good news is that these other factors are totally controllable. We’ll tell you just what they are so you can start taking precautions and boosting those numbers. Attaboys!
- Pesticides. A recent study followed 155 men in “subfertile” couples over 18 months, and found that eating fruits and veggies with high pesticide residue had a pretty big impact on sperm. The highest quartile of pesticide-eaters had 49% fewer sperm and 32% fewer normal sperm than the lowest quartile. Pesticides are never good for you, so lowering intake is pretty much a no-brainer.
- Low physical activity. We extol the benefits of exercise often enough: working out boosts your mood and energy, prevents disease, strengthens your heart, decreases headaches, improves your memory and sleep, and even gives your sex life a lift. But if you and your beau need one more reason to get moving, exercise boosts sperm count, too. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed the semen quality of 189 men and found those who exercised 15 or more hours per week had 73% more sperm than those who exercised less than five hours per week. Not only that, but men who watched more than 20 hours of television per week had 44% fewer sperm than those who spent almost no time in front of the tube. It’s prettier outside than it is in your television, anyway.
- Too much alcohol. Again, our advice for sperm count is our advice for life! Drinking too much can pack on the pounds, sabotage your fitness goals, disrupt your sleep—and, it turns out, negatively affect sperm count. A study of 1,221 Danish men found that those who had more than 40 drinks a week had 33% lower sperm counts, and 51% fewer normal-looking sperm, than those who had one to five drinks. Men whose drinking habits fell somewhere in the middle experienced more moderate effects. Notably, total abstinence wasn’t great, either: it was also linked to poorer sperm quality. So: three cheers for moderation.