The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Is it possible to tell from ejaculate fluid whether your sperm is healthy or not? If not how can you tell? What are some factors in teen life that can affect your fertility later on in the future?

Sam (age 13)

Sperm comes from your testicles. Semen is produced by your seminal vesicles. As men who have had vasectomies can tell you, you can still ejaculate fluid even though no sperm is reaching the ejaculatory ducts.

Doctors can take a sample of your semen and examine it under a microscope to see how many sperm cells are in your semen and how active they are. This is usually done when a husband and wife have been trying unsuccessfully for over two years to conceive a child.

Things that can affect your fertility:

  • Heat can cause temporary infertility. Your testicles need to be 1 to 4 degrees cooler than your body. Prolonged exposure to heat will cause the testicles to stop producing sperm temporarily. It is thought that continued exposure over a very long period of time will cause permanent damage to your ability to produce sperm.
  • Heavy smoking causes a drop in the number of sperm produced by a man by nearly 20%.
  • Men with undescended testicles have poorer sperm counts and lower quality sperm than healthy men.
  • Physical damage, being hit in the groin or having a twisted testicle, that damages the testicles, epydidimus, or the vas deferens can cause scare tissue to form that blocks the sperm from reaching the ejaculatory duct. It could also damage the blood flow to the testicles which can then damage them.
  • Infections or sexually transmitted diseases can either damage the ability to produce healthy sperm or scare the delivery mechanisms so that sperm can't reach the ejaculatory duct.
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, which effect the hormones of the body can impact your ability to produce sperm. Blocked arteries can stifle the blood flow to the testicles, damaging their ability to produce sperm, as well as making it difficult to have an erection.
  • Exposure to toxic substances, such as lead, will damage the testicles.
  • Varicocele impacts the blood flow to the testicles and can cause infertility.
  • Prostate problems, whether disease or cancer, can harm its ability to produce the required substances or damage the muscles need to ejaculate semen.
  • Extremely long bicycling, over 3,000 miles per year, where the seat saddle presses just behind the scrotum causing interruption to the blood flow to the testicles and possible nerve damage.
  • Use of Viagra has been shown to cause sperm to have difficulty penetrating the egg, effectively making a man less fertile.
  • Cancer of the testicles would obviously cause damage to the testicles and your ability to produce sperm.