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Are you Shooting Blanks? Top Ten Fertility Busters

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Here are ten fertility threats that every guy should know about if you want healthy sperm.


Toxins in tobacco smoke can cause sperm to swim slowly. Smoking also damages specific proteins called protamines. Protamines play an important role in the development of sperm - they are necessary for the process that results in the formation of chromosomes during cell division - and, therefore, have an effect on subsequent male fertility.

What's more, the toxins in smoking can also damage sperm cells' DNA cargo. Cigarettes can even do their damage if guys themselves don't smoke. According to several studies the sons of mothers who smoke have poorer sperm quality than sons of non-smoking moms. Rresearchers found that a mother's smoking during early pregnancy dramatically reduces the numbers of germ cells (the cells that form sperm in males and eggs in female) and somatic cells (the cells that form every other part of the body) in the developing fetus. The researchers  believe that this may have an adverse effect on the fertility of the baby(both males and females) as adults in later life.


The active ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel high - tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - can cause sperm counts to fall. THCs mimics’ testosterone, so smoking marijuana exposes sperm to a hormonal imbalance that can stop sperm production, causing sperm counts to fall.

Other drugs can also affect male hormones, which can limit or reduce sperm production, as well as effect sperm mobility and sperm health.


Men who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol or engage in binge drinking four or more drinks in one evening) are likely to have serious problems with their fertility according to several studies. Alcoholics often have problems with achieving and maintaining an erection. Additionally, because alcohol damages the liver, Men who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol are more likely to have higher levels of estrogen in their body, which can severely suppress sperm production and sperm mobility. Alcohol abuse has been linked with damaged sperm and reduced sperm counts.

Too Much Testosterone

Too much testosterone can affect fertility in a negative way. While many people take testosterone supplements to gain muscle, enhance mood, support healthy libido, taking testosterone supplements can actually KO the body's sperm-making machinery. That's because too much testosterone shuts down the pituitary, the gland that regulates the testicles' production of sperm. Some scientists have even suggested using testosterone as a male contraceptive. Natural testosterone supplements can also cause this negative effect on fertility. Natural testosterone supplements, also known as testosterone boosters, contain potent herbal extracts that can prompt the body to produce more testosterone.  These include name barnd formulas, as well as individual natural testosterone boosters like, tribulus, fenugreek, Tongkat Ali, and horny goat weed.

Too Little Testosterone

Too little testosterone stops the testicles' production of sperm. Additionally low testosterone levels damage sperm and causes sperm to be less mobile and less healthy. Less sperm numbers and less mobile and damage sperm leads to fertility problems, and potential infertility.


Heat puts the hurt on sperm and sperm production.

The testicles - where sperm cells are made - are "designed" to stay about seven degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the rest of the body. If the testicle temperature rises above that level, it can slow down sperm mobility temporarily.

A 2007 University of California, study found that regularly taking a hot bath or relaxing in hot tubs can lead to male infertility, but the effects can sometimes be reversible. The results from the three-year study analyzing data from infertile men who had been repeatedly exposed to high water temperatures through hot tubs, Jacuzzis or hot baths were reported in the January-February 2007 issue of "International Braz J Urol," the official journal of the Brazilian Society of Urology.

Other research has shown that resting a laptop on your lap, which can heat the testicles, can have the same damaging effect. "Laptops are becoming increasingly common among young men wired into to the latest technology," said Suzanne Kavic, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at Loyola University Health System (LUHS) and associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and department of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "However, the heat generated from laptops can impact sperm production and development making it difficult to conceive down the road."


Several fertility studies has linked obesity to poor sperm, possibly by lowering levels of testosterone and raising levels of the female hormone estrogen. The fatter a guy is, the worse his hormonal situation - and the greater his sperm troubles.

Radiation: X-rays

Radiation, including that from X-rays can stop sperm production inside the testicles, shrink the testicles and cause low sperm count. The bigger the radiation dose, the longer it takes sperm to recover. Very big doses can render men permanently sterile, but the occasional X-ray, experts say, isn't enough to put your little swimmers down for the count.

Cell Phone Use

Keeping a cell phone on talk mode in a pocket can decrease sperm quality, according to research from the Cleveland Clinic. When semen is exposed to the radio waves emitted by cell phones can result in damage to sperm. "We believe that these devices are used because we consider them very safe, but it could cause harmful effects due to the proximity of the phones and the exposure that they are causing to the gonads," says lead researcher Ashok Agarwal, the Director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine. According to Agarwal the proximity of the phones and the radio waves exposure that they are causing to the gonads can cause a significant increase in oxidative stress which can decrease sperm quality, including sperm motility and sperm viability.

High Testicles

The testicles are supposed to be in the scrotum, whose built-in cooling system helps keep the sperm assembly line humming along. But some guys have a condition known as cryptorchidism, in which the testicles have not “descended" from inside the body to the scrotum outside the body. And since heat kills sperm the longer the testicles remain in the body, the more likely future sperm production will be negatively impacted. The solution for men with cryptorchidism is surgery to have the testicles surgically brought into the scrotum as quickly as possible.

Twisted Testicles

You might not be able to break a testicle, but testicles can be "twisted," which can result in pain and can cut off the blood supply to a testicle. If this occurs for a prolong period of time, the testicle can die. This condition can even disrupt sperm production in the other, untwisted testicle.

Bottom Line Male Fertility

The message for men trying to conceive is clear: take great care of yourself and treat your body like a temple. This means avoid smoking, drugs, alcohol, eat well, sleep well, hit the gym, and avoid the top sperm busters that effect male fertility.

Last modified on Monday, 12 December 2011 04:49
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