Making Sperm: A quick guide
The human sperm cell is essentially a tiny machine finely crafted for its mission. For its size, the sperm cell is the heaviest cell in your body but it still manages to be the most mobile. Each sperm is a lean package containing some of your DNA (the stuff that makes you who you are), a long tail for swimming, an energy supply to make it go, and little else. A healthy sperm is shaped like a tadpole and wiggles its tail to rapidly home in on the female egg. Each sperm, if it is healthy, is capable of merging with an egg and becoming a new person.
If you are like most men, millions of sperm cells are daily being produced in your testicles to replace those that leave your body or die naturally. Sperm start their lives as immature round cells called “Spermatogonium”. Over the course of about two months these baby sperm furiously multiply, grow their tails, and go into storage as fully functional sperm.Turning out such a finely crafted machine takes a finely tuned environment. Sperm production requires a temperature about 4 degrees F (~ 2 degrees C) below your normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees. If clothing allows, your testicles cool themselves off to the required temperature by hanging away from your body. Too much time in the hot tub, a fever, or anything else that heats up your balls can impact sperm production for a couple months.
Sperm cells need a tremendous amount of testosterone to mature, many times more than is found in your blood. Artificially raising your blood testosterone (T replacement or steroids) paradoxically can reduce testosterone levels in your testicles shutting down sperm production. Stress or obesity can also upset the chemical environment needed to support the high level of sperm production needed for normal fertility.
To make sperm, you need the right materials to support the furious cell multiplication required. This includes having enough key vitamins and minerals such as zinc available. The intense cell replication in your testicles is also much more vulnerable to toxins than the rest of you. Exposure to lead or cadmium can prevent the necessary cell division. Chemotherapy is notoriously damaging for sperm counts.
Because sperm cells take such a long time to mature, and their production is so sensitive to your environment, it is a good idea to improve your lifestyle at least two months before you want to conceive. If you are already trying to conceive, lifestyle changes can begin to have a positive effect somewhat earlier as sperm cells already under production have a better chance of becoming a finished product.