Fertility and pregnancy * Men's health * Sexual health

Daily sex improves sperm quality

he just read the news... New sperm has less DNA damage, say scientists

Daily sex for seven days results in better quality sperm by reducing sperm DNA damage, according to research presented today at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam.

Couples trying for a baby are usually advised to stop having sex for a few days before the woman ovulates to increase the amount of sperm produced and the chances of pregnancy.

However research presented by Dr. David Greening from Sydney IVF suggests this may not be the whole story.

Dr. Greening studied 118 male volunteers with higher than normal sperm DNA damage. The men were instructed to ejaculate once a day for seven days in a row, after which their sperm was re-assessed for DNA damage.

Overall, the amount of sperm DNA damage fell from an average of 34% to 26%, although there was considerable variation seen within the group. In 22% of men, the amount of sperm DNA damage was found to increase by 10%.

Not surprisingly, after seven days the amount of sperm and semen produced also fell. However sperm motility was unaffected.

"Further research is required to see whether the improvement in these men's sperm quality translates into pregnancy rates, but other previous studies have shown the relationship between sperm DNA damage and pregnancy rates," said Dr. Greening.

He also thought that the improvement in quality was due to sperm spending less time in the tubes leading to the testes, where the sperm is most vulnerable to reactive oxygen species - molecules which can cause cellular damage.

Dr. Greening suggested this latest research may help couples who are trying to conceive, especially older men who may have sex less often.

"The optimal number of days of ejaculation might be more or less seven days, but a week appears manageable and favourable. It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal sexual parameters should have sex for up to a week before the ovulation date," he said.

"In addition, these results may mean that men play a greater role in infertility than previously suspected, and that ejaculatory frequency is important in improving sperm quality, especially as men age and during assisted reproduction cycles."

This article was published on Tue 30 June 2009

Image © MAXFX - Fotolia.com

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