How are sperm made?
We hear so much about the female menstrual cycle but did you know that MEN have a cycle too?
Their cycles are not that unlike ours in that they start in the brain and rely on a balance of different hormones. It's during this cycle of hormones that sperm are made.
The hypothalamus gland in the brain (a tiny gland that controls basically everything), tells the pituitary gland (a gland just below it that secretes lots of hormones) to secrete LH. Now we have heard of luteinising hormone before as this hormone also appears in the female cycle.
Once released LH then binds to Leydig cells in the testes and from here we get testosterone, androstenedione and DHEA AKA the male hormones (but don’t forget we have some of the androgens and men have some oestrogens too!)
At the same time this is happening the pituitary gland also secretes FSH (again this one appears in the menstrual cycle). FSH stands for follicle stimulating hormone and it does just that. It binds to Sertoli cells in the seminiferous tubules and helps to nurture the developing sperm through all the different stages of spermatogenesis.
There are 6 stages to spermatogenesis development and stage 1- 6 is the male cycle!
Each cycle takes around 16 days to complete (so shorter than the average female cycle) and most sperm take around 4.6 of these cycles to fully develop and mature. So really it takes 74 days or there abouts to get mature sperm.
So, after the sperm have matured they then move to the epididymis to mature, be stored and then be transported out through the vas deferens to the prostate and out the penis.
The prostate has an important role in that approx. 1/3 of the fluid from the semen comes from the prostate.
And this is why it’s so important to look at everything you are doing those 2.5-3 months prior to conception because the sperm are developing throughout that whole time.
So as you can see fertility isn’t just a woman’s problem, men need to look after themselves and their reproductive systems too.