Will Abstaining From Having Sex Help Improve Sperm Count?
Couples who abstain from sex in the hope of saving sperm until the woman is at her most fertile have definitely been misled. A recent study provides the strongest evidence yet that not only is abstaining from sex of no benefit to couples with normal fertility, but it can also damage the chance of successful conception among couples seeking fertility treatment.
The World Health Organization guidelines state that men should abstain from sex for between two and seven days before giving a sample for fertility treatment. This however does not mean that if you are trying to conceive you might have the best sperm if you abstain from sex for a few days.
Some studies reveal that delaying ejaculation may increase the total concentration of sperm and perhaps the volume of semen. However, the percentage of normal sperm and the percentage of motile sperm decrease with infrequent ejaculation. Overall, the study concludes that ejaculation three to four times per week will ensure the optimum number of good motile sperm.
Results From A Study Related To Abstaing From Sex And The Ability To Conceive
A team lead by Eliahu Levitas, a fertility specialist at the IVF unit of Soroka University Medical Centre in Israel, looked at sperm samples from around 6,000 men who had abstained from sex for up to two weeks. Most of the men had normal sperm counts. Around one third of them had low sperm counts, meaning they produced less than 20m sperm per milliliter.
Researchers found that if men had low sperm counts their sperm steadily became less mobile after an average of one day’s abstinence. Their sperm also began to suffer subtle changes in shape, a sign that the sperm were going stale. But the sperm of men with normal sperm counts showed little change in mobility after abstinence, and did not begin to go stale until much later.
What Does This Mean To Me?
This shows that for normal couples it really makes no difference if they abstain or not, but men with low fertility really shouldn’t abstain more than a day or two. While having more sex at the time of ovulation is a good idea for couples trying to conceive, you should not wait till ovulation to have sexual intercourse.
But this does not mean that you try to have sex three times a day, because then you could deplete the store of sperm you have. What you should do is flush the system out so the sperm that are there are fresh. Fresh sperm are always going to be better than stale sperm. It takes a day or two for sperm to replenish their numbers after a man ejaculates. Each sperm survives for a fortnight before it breaks down and is reabsorbed by the body.
It will help you couples undergoing intra-uterine insemination, a type of fertility treatment where a small quantity of sperm is collected and injected directly into the uterus, to keep this in mind when trying to conceive. For this treatment you should have the best quality sperm you can get. Other techniques, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), take a single sperm which can be carefully chosen from a batch of millions to be the best available.