5 curiosities about the semen that you might not have known (including that it was thought that it transported tiny adults)

5 curiosities about the semen that you might not have known (including that it was thought that it transported tiny adults)

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Although it is hard to believe, there is still much to discover about semen and sperm.

But it is also true that much has been advanced since the beginning of his study, a few centuries ago, when the mere idea of ​​being interested in the subject was considered indecent.

But you, how much do you know about this viscous liquid fundamental to our reproduction ?

In BBC, we tell you five aspects that you may find curious about sperm and the substance that contains them: semen.

1. It was thought to be carrying miniature adults

In his fascinating report ” The Long, Winding Tale of Sperm Science … and why it’s finally headed in the right direction” (“The long and sinuous history of the science of semen and why it finally turned in the right direction”), Laura Poppick enters the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to learn the first theories about semen.

In the article, published on the website of the Smithsonian Institute of the United States, Poppick says that it was thanks to the then revolutionary microscope that biologists could see the semen “in all its glory”.

A brochure with the name of Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Copyright of the image ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Anton van Leeuwenhoek is considered the father of microbiology.

“These first semen scientists found themselves with the task of answering the most basic questions, for example: Are sperm alive animals? Are they parasites? And does each sperm contain a small preformed adult human nestled inside? “, says the writer.

According to Poppick’s research, the first scientist who concentrated on studying semen was the Dutch Anton van Leeuwenhoek , who went down in history as the father of microbiology for his pioneering work in that field.

Van Leeuwenhoek developed the first composite microscope and used it to analyze lice and water samples from lakes in the mid-1670s. However, his friends urged him to focus his instrument on something else.

“But worried that writing about semen and intercourse could be indecent, he did not advance, and finally, in 1677, he gave in. As he examined his own ejaculation, he was immediately shocked by the little ‘animalcules’ he found writhing inside,” the author says.

He did not want to share what he discovered with his colleagues. But he decided to inform the Royal Society of London (the most important scientific institution in England) about his findings.

A container.
Copyright of the image ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Several factors influence sperm production.

“If the honorable Member believes that these observations may annoy or scandalize the scholars , I strongly urge the honorable Member to consider them private and to publish them or destroy them as the honorable Member deems appropriate,” the scientist wrote.

The president of that body published them and in this way a new field of study of biology was born.

Before that, there were many theories about reproduction.

As noted by biologist Bob Montgomerie of Queen’s University in Canada-who is quoted by Poppick-it was thought that “the steam emitted by the male ejaculate somehow stimulated women to make babies, while others believed that the men actually manufactured the babies and transferred them to the females for incubation. “

After the findings of van Leeuwenhoek, “it took approximately 200 years before scientists agreed on how humans were formed.”

Some believed that each sperm had a tiny human being completely preformed.

2. Underwear affects its quality

If you want to improve the quality of your sperm, think about using more boxers.

And a study by the School of Public Health at Harvard University published on August 8 seems to confirm that the use of baggy briefs could be a simple way for men to improve their sperm count and the hormones that control them.

Clans
Copyright of the ISTOCK image
Image caption A looser option can help keep the testicles at a cooler temperature.

In the study, 656 men participated and those who wore boxer shorts had a sperm concentration 25% higher than men with tight underwear.

It is believed that this is due to the cold temperatures around the testicles.

And experts say that this simple change of lifestyle could improve the fertility of men.

Sperm production is affected by temperatures above 34 ° C , which is the reason why the testicles hang from the body.

Some styles of underpants, the tightest, bring the scrotum close to the body, which causes the testicles to warm up, while others, such as boxers, are looser and colder.

In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers found that men who attended a fertility clinic with baggy briefs had a 17% higher sperm concentration, and that these were 33% more agile (ability to swim ) than those of men who wore tight underwear.

3. What you eat influences its quality

Nuts can help to have healthy semen, according to a study from the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragano, Spain.

The men who ate about two handfuls of almonds, hazelnuts and mixed nuts daily for 14 weeks improved their sperm count and had more viable “swimmers,” the researchers said.

Fresh fruits
Copyright of the ISTOCK image
Image caption Introducing fresh fruits in the diet brings benefits to men and women.

The study, which was published in July, came amid what scientific sources have called a decrease in sperm count throughout the western world , due, in part, to pollution, smoking and diet.

The researchers said there was growing evidence that a healthy diet could increase the chances of conceiving.

The scientists randomly divided 119 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 35 into two groups:

  • A group was added 60 grams of nuts a day to its normal diet
  • The other did not make any change to what they usually eat

Those in the group that ate walnuts improved sperm:

  • The count by 14%
  • The vitality by 4%
  • Mobility by 6%
  • The morphology (shape and size) in 1%

All these are the parameters that the World Health Organization lists as measures of sperm quality and are associated with male fertility.

Fresh fruits
Copyright of the ISTOCK image

Experts said the study supported others who showed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and folic acid B-vitamin that improved fertility.

“The evidence is accumulating in the literature that changes in healthy lifestyle, such as following a healthy dietary pattern, could help conception,” said Dr. Albert Salas-Huetos, who led the study.

4. Does not always carry the same amount of sperm

The amount of sperm that men produce varies widely.

“In general, it is said that men can produce between 2 milliliters and 5 millilitersof semen every time they ejaculate,” explain biologist Mike Leahy and Hilary MacQueen, professor in the Life, Health and Chemical Sciences department of the Open University of England.

A sperm
Copyright of the ISTOCK image
Image caption In a couple with problems to conceive, it is recommended that both men and women receive check-ups.

“And every milliliter can contain 20 million to 300 million sperm, ” they add in the article ” The science of sperm ” (“The science of sperm”), available on the website of the Open University.

According to the researchers, that means that a fertile man “can produce between 40 million and 1,800 million sperm in total, although most produce between 40 and 60 million sperm per milliliter, giving an average total of 80 to 300 million sperm per ejaculation”.

5. You are not born producing it

Men are not born with the ability to produce semen.

This ability develops when puberty begins, when semen begins to be manufactured in small vessels within the testicles that are known as seminiferous tubules .

A baby
Copyright of the ISTOCK image
Image caption Men are not born with sperm cells ready.

When the sperm are produced, they begin to mature in the epididymis, a narrow, elongated tube located at the back of the testicle , and the vas deferens. From there they pass to the urethra.

“The entire process of production and maturation within the male body takes up to 74 days, but the usual average is around nine weeks,” say researchers at the Open University.

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