Daily sex can improve the genetic quality of a man’s sperm and could enhance his chances of fathering a child, new research has suggested.
Couples who are trying for a baby are often advised to have sex every other day, so that the man’s sperm count has time to recover, but scientists in Australia have discovered that this may lower some men’s fertility.
While abstaining from sex for a few days does boost sperm counts, sperm quality as well as quantity is important to male fertility and this can be damaged if a man ejaculates too infrequently.
A study at Sydney IVF, a center for infertility treatment, has found that daily sex for a seven-day period substantially improves the genetic quality of sperm, without lowering sperm counts enough to impair fertility. Scientists plan to examine whether this also affects pregnancy rates.
Dr. David Greening, who led the research, said that for some couples, having intercourse every day during the woman’s most fertile period could make all the difference to their efforts to start a family.
The findings, which he presented Monday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Amsterdam, could also have important implications for couples having IVF.
Men are usually advised to abstain for ejaculation for three days before providing a sperm sample for fertilising their partner’s eggs and many couples do not have regular sex while going through IVF. “It could be that it’s better to keep the river flowing at this time,” Greening said.
When men go without ejaculating, the number of sperm stored in the epididymis at the top of the testicle increases, hence the standard advice to have sex every two to three days if you are trying to conceive.
The longer that sperm sits in the epididymis, however, the more genetic damage it accumulates through exposure to heat and to oxygen free radicals. Regular ejaculation empties this sperm reservoir, ensuring that newly-produced sperm of higher genetic quality can get out.