Male Fertility

Plan of action – The natural approach

Research shows that a good fertility diet can positively influence chances of conceiving.
The main guidelines for this diet is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables with snacking on nuts and seeds.
Eating less meat and processed foods and eating more fish and plant-based foods.
 
To assess male fertility a semen analysis is necessary. In some cases, a sperm DNA fragmentation may be suggested.
Male fertility is a common cause of infertility issues. It affects up to half of the couples who come to our clinics. For this reason, both partners should be tested before starting any infertility journey.

Semen Analysis

A semen analysis looks at the count, motility and morphology of sperm under a light microscope.
The current WHO parameters for normal semen parameters are as the following;
  • Volume: 2ml
  • Count: 15 million sperm per ml
  • Motility: over 32% of sperms should be Grade A swimmers.
  • Morphology: At least 4% of sperm should be perfectly normal morphology.

Sperm DNA Fragmentation

This refers to the damage of the DNA within the sperm nucleus.
Studies have shown that there is correlation between increased DNA fragmentation and infertility.
It is normal to have a certain amount of DNA fragmentation. A percentage of DNA fragmentation above 30% can cause difficulty conceiving.
Oxidative stress can cause sperm DNA to fragment. Oxidative stress can be caused by the following conditions;
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Varicocele
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Testicular heat… such as prolonged sitting or hot saunas etc.
  • Chemicals…exposure to pesticides and certain chemicals.
  • Poor diet…a diet low in anti-oxidants and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Age…DNA fragmentations increase with age
  • Genetics
  • Undiagnosed or unmanaged diabetes
  • Certain medications

How nutrition can help

There are a lot of things you can do to improve male fertility issues.
Reducing smoking as smoking affects sperm motility and morphology.
Improving diet and including foods that are high in antioxidants
Increasing movement. Sedentary lifestyles increase testicular heat and increases DNA fragmentation.
Reducing situations where there is excessive heat to testicles, like hot baths, saunas and jacuzzi
Even if you are undergoing IUI, IVF or an ICSI cycle, improving your diet, reducing smoking and trying to get more exercise will improve the quality of sperm used on the day of your procedure. This way you can try to use the best quality sperm your body can produce.
 

Fertility Diet

There is evidence that a good fertility diet can significantly impact your quality of sperm.
Fish intake is particularly important as it contains omega 3. Reducing red meat and processed meats is helpful as well as increasing pulses and beans in your diet. It is beneficial to reduce fried food and high fat and foods with high sugar content.
Below are listed important vitamins and minerals that help improve sperm quality.

Zinc

Zinc is one of the most important minerals for sperm health. It plays a crucial role for sperm development, formation, maturation and motility. It plays a role in the antioxidant compound zinc-copper superoxide dismutase (SOD). This helps protect sperm integrity as they mature and helps reduce DNA fragmentation.
As zinc deficiency is very common worldwide try to include foods high in zinc like chickpeas, nuts, seeds and meat. Remember zinc absorption can be impaired with some gastric drugs like proton pump inhibitors (PPI). Zinc absorption can be increased by soaking, sprouting and fermenting.
We usually recommend zinc supplements for males undergoing assisted reproductive treatments (ART). As they have been shown in clinical trials to help improve count, motility, morphology and reduce DNA fragmentation.

Selenium

Selenium is found in high concentration in the testes where it forms part of the antioxidant group glutathione Peroxidases (GPX). GPX helps protect sperm as they develop and mature.
Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium. Just one Brazil nut can fulfil your recommended daily requirements.
Selenium is also found in meat, chicken, shellfish and eggs.
 

Vitamin C and Vitamin E

Both important antioxidants for sperm health they work synergistically as Vitamin C is water soluble and Vitamin E is fat soluble. Vitamin C is particularly important for smokers. Clinical trials have shown reduction in DNA fragmentation with both Vitamin C and Vitamin E. A diet rich in healthy fats from foods such as salmon and avocado and abundant in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds should provide plenty of these super vitamins.
However, taking supplements is also highly recommended.
 

Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are a major part of sperm membrane. Good omega 3 levels improve sperm count and motility. Omega 3 are also anti-inflammatory and can protect sperm from damage.
Eating two portions of oily fish a week is recommended.

Vitamin D

Sperm have receptors for Vitamin D, and conception rates naturally increase in the summer.
Testing for Vitamin D deficiency can be of benefit. Careful with supplementation as too much can be toxic. Always take Vitamin D supplements under the supervision of a physician.
 

Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol reduce sperm quantity and quality. We recommend consuming no more than two cups of coffee per day.

Exercise

Regular moderate exercise can is excellent for weight management, hormonal balance and stress reduction. Exercises such as brisk walking and swimming prevent damage from prolonged sitting and excessive testicular heat.
It is important when you are trying to conceive to avoid saunas, hot baths, prolonged use of laptops and try to limit carrying mobile phones in your pocket.

Where to start?

When planning to conceive try making positive lifestyle changes step by step. Trying walking at least twenty minutes a day. Cut back on friend food and increase a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet. Try to include oily fish twice a week and cut back on smoking, drinking and caffeine.
If you need further support or assistance feel free to contact me here.
 
 

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