The quality and concentration of sperm in the men’s semen could be affected by the amount and type of fat in their diet. However, this fat is usually gained in return of the reduction in amount of saturated fat, much of which is linked to poor health and as such poorer fertility. It can be said that a high total fat intake is linked to a lower total sperm count and concentration. Semen is a white or grey liquid, emitted from the urethra (tube in the penis) on ejaculation. Usually, each milliliter of semen contains millions of spermatozoa (sperm), but the majority of the volume consists of secretions of the glands in the male reproductive organs. The purpose of semen is purely for reproduction, as a vehicle to carry the spermatozoa into the female reproductive tract.
The average volume of semen produced at ejaculation is 2 to 5ml. Volumes consistently less than 1.5ml (hypospermia) or more than 5.5ml (hyperspermia) are probably abnormal. A ‘normal’ sperm count means that the concentration of spermatozoa should be at least 20 million per ml, the total volume of semen should be at least 2ml and the total number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate should be at least 40 million. However, there can be enormous variation in sperm count in an individual, even over a few days and as such it’s important that at least two, preferably three or more, samples are analyzed, each at least two to three weeks apart. A single sample is inadequate to assess semen quality.
If men make changes to their diets so as to reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat and increase their omega-3 intake, then this may not only improve their general health, but could improve their reproductive health too. At a global level, adopting lifestyle with such modifications may improve general health, as high saturated fat diets are known to be a risk factor for a range of cardiovascular diseases. The men with highest fat intake have 43% lower total sperm count and 38% lower sperm concentration than the men with the lowest fat intake. Also, men who consume the most omega-3 fats have slightly more sperm (1.9%) than the men who have the lowest omega-3 intake. Thus, besides toxic pollutants, zinc deficiency, ionizing radiation, endocrine disrupters, sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, smoking, anabolic steroid use which can affect male fertility, fat in the diets of the men can also influence the concentration of the semen and its quality.