Men seeking to become a dad should have sex each day, or
ejaculate daily, for a week before their partner ovulates in order
to maximise sperm quality, according to a study.
Australian fertility specialist David Greening recruited 118 men
whose sperm had a higher-than-normal level of DNA damage.
Before the test, on average 34% of the group's sperm was
rated as damaged, meaning that it was classified as "poor" in
quality. Among individuals, this ranged from 15% to 98%.
The men were asked to ejaculate daily for seven days, but were
not given any drugs or told to make any changes to lifestyle. After seven days, their sperm was examined again.
Improvements were ‘significant’
The average of damaged sperm fell to 26%, placing it in
the category of "fair" in quality. Fourth-fifths of the men saw an increase in sperm quality, and many of them moved into the "good" range and out of the "poor" or "fair" categories.
However, one-fifth saw a decline in sperm quality.
Greening, an obstetrician and endocrinologist at Sydney IVF, an
Australian company that carries out assisted reproduction, said the
improvements were "substantial and statistically highly
Daily ejaculation not only boosted sperm quality for most of the
men, it also helped sperm motility - another big factor in
successful fertilisation - even though volumes of semen declined,
Greening presented his findings at a conference in Amsterdam of
the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), which provided details in a press release.
’Have sex before ovulation’
The research did not investigate whether the improvement in
sperm quality led to better pregnancy rates. But previous work has
shown that sperm that is less damaged and more mobile has a better
chance of leading to a healthy baby.
"These results may mean that men player a greater role in
fertility than previously suspected, and that ejaculatory frequency
is important for improving sperm quality," said Greening.
Why this is so is unclear. Greening said he suspected that the longer sperm stays in the testicular ducts, the greater its exposure to rogue oxygen molecules that damage cells.
His advice to couples would be to have sex, or to ejaculate,
daily in the run-up to ovulation or to sperm donation for in-vitro
"The optimal number of days of ejaculation might be more or less seven days, but a week seems manageable and favourable," he said. "It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal
semen parameters should have sex daily for up to a week before
ovulation date." – (Sapa, June 2009)
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