It takes two to make a baby. Infertility is a major clinical concern, affecting 15% of all reproductive age couples. Whilst it’s crucial to focus on boosting female fertility, it’s also equally important to see how nutrition can support male fertility. Surprisingly, approximately 40-50% of so called ‘infertile couples’ are attributable to male infertility. Male semen and sperm quality also influence the risk of miscarriage.
Similar to women, fertility in men is influenced by a variety of factors, including lifestyle and dietary habits. Boosting certain nutrients can significantly encourage optimum male fertility. In particular antioxidants should be incorporated into your diet to promote fertility, especially if levels are likely to be low through poor diet or oxidative stress, or have been low in blood tests.
Selenium is a key mineral involved in sperm production. It is a well-known fact that selenium helps out men with normal spermatogenesis*; the production of sperm. In a study using 200ug of selenium for 100 days in infertile men, selenium significantly improved sperm quality and pregnancy rates.
Zinc may be the most important trace mineral in male reproduction. Zinc contributes to normal fertility and reproduction*, it is important for sperm formation, motility, and hormone production. Zinc deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels, low sperm count and sperm that isn’t mobile enough to fertilise an egg.
In one study, a combination of antioxidants including Zinc, Co-Enzyme Q10, and Vitamin C were given to 50 infertile male smokers once a day for 3 months. Selenium was given every other day. Sperm parameters were compared before and after supplementation. The scientists confirmed supplementation effectively improved the qualitative parameters (pH and concentration) and quantitative parameters (volume, motion, morphology, count and progressive motility) in men who were deemed infertile because of smoking.
Other health tips:
Changing your day-to-day habits can increase male fertility. Here are a few suggestions:
Limit alcohol: even modest habitual alcohol consumption of more than 5 units per week had adverse effects on semen quality although most pronounced associations were seen in men who consumed more than 25 units per week. Alcohol consumption was also linked to changes in testosterone and SHBG levels. Men should avoid habitual alcohol intake.
Don’t smoke: Cigarette smoking has long been known to have adverse effects of male reproductivity. Naturally, in the human body, there is a balance between free radicals and the antioxidant system. Cigarette consumption increases free radicals and decreases antioxidant vitamins and minerals in the body. These can all have negative impacts on sperm quality, count and motility.
Keep slim: There is now emerging evidence that male obesity impacts negatively on male reproductive potential, not only reducing sperm quality, but in particular altering the physical and molecular structure of germ cells in the testes and ultimately mature sperm. Recent data has shown that male obesity also impairs offspring metabolic and reproductive health suggesting that paternal health cues are transmitted to the next generation, mostly likely occurring via the sperm. Diet and exercise should be used to lose weight effectively.
A few simple adjustments to male diet and lifestyle can be made before seeking professional fertility treatments.
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