Learn about Your Sperm

Sperm are your body’s specialist cell designed to transport your DNA to your partner’s egg. You make new batches of sperm every three months and simple lifestyle changes can help you improve the quantity and quality of your sperm.

Making healthy sperm is complicated. First, you need to make lots of sperm that are strong swimmers and ‘know’ how to fertilise the egg when they arrive. Second, your sperm needs to contain good quality DNA, the instructions for making a healthy baby. Sperm are sensitive and their quantity and quality can be affected by a number of medical problems and lifestyle factors. The good news is that you make new batches of sperm every three months and simple lifestyle changes can help to improve the quantity and quality of your sperm.

Learn about Your Sperm

Looking after Your Sperm


Smoking over 20 cigarettes a day has been shown to reduce sperm count and motility. Tobacco contains over 4,000 ingredients and lots of them are toxic to sperm including cyanide, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium and ammonia. One of the big problems with smoking is that it produces lots of ‘free radicals’ and these can kill sperm or make them dysfunctional. Smokers often have lower sperm counts, more abnormal looking sperm and slower swimmers. In one study, 42% of men who smoked couldn’t have a family compared to 28% of non-smokers.


Drinking more than 2 pints of beer or 1 large glass of wine a day increases your risk of infertility. Alcohol can reduce sperm count and motility. When starting a family, try to keep alcohol intake to a minimum for at least 3 months prior to trying for a baby. UK guidelines say that men trying for a baby shouldn’t drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a week.


Stress can limit sperm production and quality by producing free radicals, but one of the worst results of stress is it can put you off sex. Taking some of the stress out of your life can go a long way to improving your sperm quality.


Until recently, nobody thought age affected a man’s ability to father children. However, the latest figures show that men over 45 make up nearly a quarter of fertility consultations. Ageing causes sperm DNA damage. Even if your partner gets pregnant, this damage can cause both short and long-term problems for your child’s health.

Recreational drugs

Cannabis damages sperm in many ways. It slows sperm down and changes the way they act, making it harder for them to find the egg and to penetrate it when they do. Regular cannabis use over a few years can permanently reduce a man’s ability to make sperm.


Being overweight, and by overweight we mean having a body mass index of over 25, may affect the quality and quantity of your sperm. Regular exercise with healthy eating is essential to lose weight and maintain a balanced lifestyle.


Sperm production works best at a lower temperature than your normal body temperature (which is why the testes are where they are). So, if you increase your testicular heat, it’s bad for your sperm. If you wear compression shorts or tight underwear, spend all day sitting at a desk or even do lots of cycling, you can damage your sperm. Changing these habits can dramatically improve sperm production and quality.


Making sure you regularly eat a healthy balanced diet is important for healthy sperm. Just like you, sperm need lots of different nutrients to function properly. Your diet should have:

  • Lots of fruit and steamed vegetables
  • Some starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
  • Some protein like meat, fish, eggs and beans
  • Some milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Not too much fat, sugar or salt

Checking your Sperm Health

Things can go wrong during sperm production. If you are thinking about starting a family, have been trying for a while or have experienced miscarriage, it makes sense to check out the health of your sperm.

Semen Analysis

Semen analysis looks at your sperm under a microscope and checks your sperm count, motility, morphology, and semen volume. These are the characteristics of sperm that ensure a sperm can reach and fertilize your partner’s egg. Abnormal semen analysis results reduce your chances of conceiving naturally.

DNA Fragmentation Test

This is a molecular test that looks inside your sperm to check out the quality of your sperm’s DNA. Sperm DNA can be damaged during sperm production and while it is being stored in your body. This damage is known as DNA fragmentation. High levels of sperm DNA fragmentation are associated with delayed natural conception and repeated miscarriage. Sperm DNA fragmentation also reduces the success of fertility treatments like IVF.


SpermComet® is Examen’s market leading DNA fragmentation test. SpermComet® measures the amount of DNA fragmentation in individual sperm making it the most sensitive fertility test available. SpermComet® is highly predictive of male infertility, male involvement in miscarriage and IVF live birth. It is the only test that is guaranteed for men with low sperm count.

Learn about the test

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