Supporting Male fertility
Creating a baby takes a sperm and an egg. Yet often when there is infertility it’s only the female that gets a full health check-up, despite up to 40% of fertility issues being attributed to male health. Therefore, it’s crucial to nurture the health of both partners before conception occurs. It’s also important to support male health because 50% of a baby’s cellular materials and DNA comes directly from sperm. If the sperm is as healthy as possible at the time of conception, the likelihood of a healthy baby is higher too. Achieving optimal health before conception reduces and even eliminates many of the fertility issues that can plague men and gives sperm the time it needs to become healthy and robust.
Male fertility concerns
These are some of the specific concerns that can cause male fertility problems:
- Poor sperm motility
- Low sperm count
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hormonal dysfunction
- Low libido
- Stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and other mental health issues
- Alcohol, smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, poor fast-food diet
What about Sperm health
Sperm are sensitive little creatures that take approximately 3 months to reach full maturity. During the growing phase they are extremely sensitive to any environmental toxins and physiological hazards. This includes high stress, heat, recreational drug use, alcohol, smoking, poor nutrition, poor sleep and the like. Infact, sperm can very easily become unviable when exposed to those conditions. Clinically this means that the male partner needs to take due care for his health and wellness in the 3 months prior to conception, if not longer. Doing so allows for the healthiest strongest sperm when it comes time for conception to occur.
Let’s take a look now at how you can care for your overall health, and therefore improve your fertility and sperm health.
Nutrition for male fertility
In terms of diet and nutrition, foods that are not great for overall health are also bad for sperm health. This includes things like fast food, refined sugar, processed readymade foods and the like. They create oxidative stress and inflammation, and sperm are very susceptible to this. Research also shows us that a ‘junk food diet’ correlates to poorer male fertility levels. Thankfully, a 3 month period of changing your diet to a wholefood based one very positively impacts sperm health!
Consuming a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, good fats, quality proteins and wholegrains improves male fertility greatly. The bonus side effect of this is that it also improves many other health markers and your overall wellness and energy.
Preconception supplements for men is also an important consideration when talking about nutrition. The specific nutrients zinc, coQ10, vitamin E are essential for strong healthy sperm and male hormones. Taking a good quality supplement ensures that you are filling in any gaps that aren’t covered by your diet. It’s essential that you talk to your Naturopath about which supplements are best suited to your individual needs, definitely DO NOT self-prescribe from your local pharmacy. This ensures you will get the highest quality and most effective supplements for your unique situation and health needs.
High stress levels can greatly impact male hormones and fertility, just as they do in females. Relaxation practices can be a vital key to allowing your body to relax enough to become fertile, whether you be male or female. Practices such as daily deep breathing, meditation, tai chi or progressive muscle relaxation are great ways to start ‘relaxing on purpose’. They inadvertently reduce the levels of stress hormones circulating in your body, reduce inflammation, and bring more balance to your body.
Movement is also very important for fertility. Being sedentary increases inflammation and negatively impacts wellbeing. Incorporating exercises such as weightlifting, and jogging have been shown to increase sperm count and improve hormone levels. Undertaking this type of moderate physical activity for half an hour, three times a week, is enough to have a positive impact. Being overweight is also a known factor in male infertility, and movement also helps to reduce this. When combined with a healthy wholefood diet, moderate exercise is a key player in your fertility.
Recent research has shown us key factors that damage sperm, and they include the following:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive caffeine – more than 2 per day
- Recreational drug use
- Heat, such as saunas, hot spas and tight underwear
- Pesticides and herbicides from non-organic produce
- Chemicals and fragrances from personal care products – this is HUGE for fertility. Perfume and aftershave are big culprits
- Cleaning products, furniture off gassing, things like paint, flame retardants, chemicals used through work etc
Learning to identify where you are being exposed to environmental toxins is really important, as is learning what you can do to minimise them. This is an area that I spend time on with my patients, so that you are equipped with the knowledge you need to make healthy and safe changes for yourself and your family.
In conclusion, undertaking preconception care helps improve your health on every level. More energy, less stress, better quality sleep and a greater sense of wellbeing are all wonderful side effects of quality preconception care. You are also much more prepared to create a healthy family and be the parent you dream of being. If you are ready to start on your preconception journey you can book in to see me HERE. I look forward to supporting you on your journey.