Improving Sperm Quality
I had a client who had been trying to conceive for more than 2 years. She found out about 1 year after trying to conceive that her husband's sperm count was abnormal with low motility and low count. Unfortunately, this couple was not told there are some lifestyle changes that can help improve sperm health. She's been taking BBT and checking cervical mucous daily, but little did she know that there were other changes that could help them improve their chances of conceiving. Unfortunately this story is all too common. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine estimates that 40% of infertility cases the male partner contributes to.
Here's a little information about semen analysis. Semen analysis measures the following:
- sperm count, which is the sperm per unit of volume of semen
- motility, which is the sperm's ability to move properly to the egg
- morphology, which is the percent of sperm that have a normal size and shape
Semen analyses do not measure DNA damage within the sperm. Sperm is very sensitive to oxidative stress and cannot repair their own membranes. The good news is that eggs can overcome some damage to sperm, however only those sperm with minimal damage from oxidation. So what are some lifestyle factors that can cause abnormal sperm?
-exposure to environmental toxins
-tobacco and alcohol
-excess heat near testicles (think saunas, hot tubs, laying laptop on your lap frequently, etc)
-excess body fat. Here is a great research article on effects of obesity on sperm health, embryo quality and implantation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3521747/ (Palmer NO, Bakos HW, Fullston T, Lane M. Impact of obesity on male fertility, sperm function and molecular composition.Spermatogenesis. 2012;2(4):253‐263. doi:10.4161/spmg.21362)
What are other ways to improve sperm quality? Through nutrition, of course! Antioxidants are vital to sperm health because sperm are so sensitive to oxidative stress. Antioxidants help protect your cells from oxidative stress. Therefore, males need to be consuming adequate Vitamin C, E, lycopene, anthocyanins, and l-carnitine. CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant and is a super supplement for fertility health. Zinc, selenium, and folate are also powerhouses for sperm health. There is one all-inclusive vitamin I do recommend to help optimize male fertility, FertilAid. Here is the Amazon link:
Here is the FertilAid direct website link:
It takes about 3 months for men to make sperm, so lifestyle changes won't effect the chances of conceiving a healthy baby until 3 months after the changes have been made. This is one reason why preconception planning 3-4 months prior to becoming pregnant is so important. I understand that 3 months can seem like a century when trying to conceive, but if you can take these 3-4 months to really focus on lifestyle changes, you can greatly increase your odds of having a healthy baby. Even if you are still unable to conceive on your own with making lifestyle changes, these changes will absolutely help you improve your chances of conceiving with fertility treatments. Making lifestyle changes, as mentioned above, will help improve sperm health, embryo quality, implantation success, and overall will result in a healthier baby, well into adulthood!
Love and baby blessings,