Updated: Feb 5, 2021
You may have noticed that there has been quite a lot in the media recently about male fertility following the airing of the BBC programme Me, My Brother, and Our Balls. It is still available on BBC iPlayer for those that have not seen it and worth a watch. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08rkzcq. Male fertility is a subject that is not often spoken about amongst men, so it was great to see it covered in depth in this programme.
When it comes to infertility there is a lot of focus on the female side. This, however, is only half of the equation, it takes two to make a baby, so sperm health is equally significant. It is important that both partners work on their fertility as in 30-40% of cases the cause of infertility can be male factor.
Poor sperm quality can be a contributor to miscarriage. Therefore, the time before conception is ideal for men to do everything they can to support their sperm quality. If your sperm results come back as less than favourable, and quite often there is always room for improvement even if you are told they are normal, there is fortunately plenty that can be done to improve this.
As it takes around one hundred days to mature a batch of sperm from start to finish this is the minimum amount of time you should be working on your health to ensure the best chance of conception. During this time what can you do to support your fertility?
Firstly, if there are any structural issues, these need to be addressed. For example, varicocele, these are varicose veins on the testicles which increase heat in the body and can damage sperm. If you are diagnosed with varicocele it is advisable to see a urologist to get this dealt with. Any infections also need to be treated and hormonal issues dealt with. Once these have been addressed, dietary and lifestyle issues should be considered as they can be extremely helpful in improving male fertility. Here are some strategies to help improve yours:
• Up the antioxidants – Antioxidants are compounds that help prevent free radical damage to cells. Research shows that including antioxidants in your diet improves sperm quality and increases the chances of conception. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins E and C, in particular semen has a high concentration of vitamin C. Broccoli, peppers and strawberries are all excellent sources of vitamin C.
• Eat the rainbow - Make sure you get plenty of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit in your diet every day. Eating a variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables will help you benefit from phytochemicals, plant compounds which protect your cells from damage, support your immune system and help to reduce inflammation in the body. Aim to focus on eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, rather than just sticking to one colour.
• Eat foods rich in vitamin E – Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, good food sources include sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, salmon, and avocados.
• Healthy fats - Ensure you are eating plenty of healthy fats. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to improve sperm quality. To get plenty in your diet include oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and anchovies. Flaxseeds and walnuts are good vegetarian and vegan sources.
• Quality supplements – Supplements can be beneficial for supporting both male and female fertility, aim for good quality supplements free from unnecessary fillers and excipients. It is always useful to get professional advice on the best supplements for you and it is not always a case of the more you take the better!
• Lifestyle review – Lifestyle is equally important when it comes to sperm health. It is worth reviewing your alcohol intake as alcohol is associated with poor sperm quality. As alcohol is also unhelpful for female fertility, support each other by reducing your intake together. If you are a smoker, now is the time to give up. Research shows that smokers have lower semen volumes, sperm counts, and motility compared to men who do not smoke.
• Keep cool - Heat damages sperm so always keep the area as cool as possible. Avoid carrying a mobile phone in your pocket or having a laptop or iPad on your lap due to the increase in heat. If cycling is your thing it might be worth switching up your exercise for a while as cycling is associated with low sperm count and poor sperm motility.
These are just a few of the ways that sperm quality can be improved. If you would like some personalised support with your fertility, contact me to find out about my 12 week Boost Your Fertility programme. Book your free discovery call to find out how I can help you.
You can also find this article on the Ovusense website
Disclaimer: Nutritional Therapy is not a replacement for medical advice, practitioners always refer any client with ‘red flag’ signs or symptoms to their medical professional. The information provided here is general and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases or conditions.