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Several factors affect the production of sperm, including lifestyle choices. Drugs and alcohol can lower a man's sperm count, for instance. Some sexually transmitted diseases may contribute to a low sperm count as well. A hormone deficiency can also cause a man to produce less sperm. Some types of clothing can even affect a man's sperm production. Environmental factors, like exposure to dangerous toxins, may also result in a lower than normal sperm concentration.
Sperm is the male reproductive cell, and it is produced in the testicles. Male ejaculate, known as semen, contains millions of these cells. Generally, a man with a normal sperm count will have more than 20 million sperm in each milliliter (0.2 teaspoons) of his semen. About half of these sperm will be usually be alive and normal, while roughly a quarter of them should be swimming very quickly.
Men who regularly smoke cigarettes are more likely to have problems with their sperm, according to some studies. Toxins in the cigarettes can hinder sperm production, resulting in a low sperm count. Cigarette smokers are also more likely than non-smokers to have abnormal or deformed sperm.
Some medications may also affect sperm production, including some prescription antibiotics and antifungal medicines. Illegal drugs can also have an effect on sperm production. Cocaine use, for instance, can hinder the process of sperm production, even years after a man uses the drug.
Alcohol also can interfere with sperm production. Typically, light to moderate drinkers will not usually have to worry about sperm count. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, are at risk of having more deformed sperm cells than normal.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), particularly chlamydia, also can affect sperm production. Men with this disease rarely show any physical symptoms, therefore it often goes undetected for a long time. Along with low sperm counts, men with chlamydia also have a high percentage of deformed sperm, which are typically unable to swim well enough to reach the female egg.
The hormone testosterone triggers the development of male characteristics during puberty. It also has a major effect on production of sperm. Men who do not produce enough testosterone typically have low sperm counts.
Some experts believe tight pants and underwear can also cause low sperm counts. These types of clothing can push the testicles into the body, raising their temperature. Since high temperatures can affect the production of sperm, some men who wear tight underwear or pants have low sperm counts. Excessive use of whirlpool tubs or hot tubs can also have this effect.
A number of toxins can also can also have an effect on sperm production. Some pesticides have been shown to lower sperm count. The insecticide chlordane was banned in the United States is the 1980s due to a number of side effects, including low sperm counts in some men. Exposure to radioactive substances can also lower sperm count and increase the chances of deformed sperm.
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