We are delighted to have this guest blog on how to boost male fertility naturally from nutritionist Amy Huggins (Adv Dip NHF).
When we consider fertility, we tend to focus on female fertility. However, as conception comprises the union of both male and female, it is equally as important that any couple wishing to conceive focus on the fertile health of both partners.
We know that conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis can impact female fertility, but what factors can compromise male fertility, and what can be done to boost it naturally?
How to boost male fertility naturally
For a third of couples infertility stems solely from the male partner. Whilst male infertility may be due to a physiological issue such as a blockage of the ejaculatory duct, other important factors for consideration are the motility, morphology and number of sperm (also known as sperm count).
Whilst sperm count is commonly referenced, the terms ‘morphology’ and ‘motility’ are less understood, and you may only first become aware of their importance during the initial screening for fertility treatment such as IVF. Morphology and motility refer to the structure and movement of sperm, which as equally as crucial as the count.
If we consider sperm as the ‘team of swimmers’ they are so often referred to, it is not just the number of swimmers in the team that is a factor in their success in reaching and fertilizing the egg. The physical condition, and movement of the sperm are also important, and it are these factors which should be addressed for any man wanting to boost his fertility.
The sperm regeneration cycle takes about 74 days, so the good news is that no matter what condition your sperm are in now, improvements can be made in a relatively short space of time by addressing nutrition and lifestyle. This is especially important when preparing for a cycle of IVF or ICSI to give the best chance of a successful cycle.
Good nutrition improves sperm quality
Nutrition has been proven to improve fertility for both assisted, and natural conception. In addition, certain vitamins and minerals have actually been proven to improve the quality of sperm. Sperm are particularly susceptible to free radical damage from toxins, and anti-oxidants act as a line of defense from this damage. Therefore, high anti-oxidant foods such as cranberries, goji berries and blueberries should be consumed regularly. Replace your daily coffee with anti-oxidant rich green tea.
The good news is that good quality high cocoa dark chocolate is also antioxidant. Aim for 70% minimum cocoa solids.
Zinc also plays an important role in sperm development. One study found that zinc deficiency actually reduces sperm motility. Zinc rich foods include pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, spinach and oysters. Zinc should be combined with the vitamin folate to improve sperm count. Foods rich in folate include dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, peas and avocado.
When it comes to fluids, consuming enough water is imperative, as semen is water based. Staying hydrated by drinking at least 2 litres of filtered water a day improves sperm production and increases ejaculation.
Conversely caffeine, which is a diuretic, should be avoided. One study found that caffeine consumption can reduce the chances of pregnancy from IVF and should be limited to one cup maximum per day by both partners.
Alcohol should be limited, and ideally eliminated, with organic red wine being the best choice of alcoholic beverage if you really can’t go tee-total.
In addition, cigarettes and recreational drugs both impair fertility, and should be avoided. We may assume that diet options are healthy with their reduced sugar, however aspartame which is found in diet foods and drinks has been linked to lower sperm count and actually contributes to DNA damage.
Lifestyle has an impact
Chefs supposedly have lower sperm counts, due to their constant exposure to heat at groin level, but all men should be mindful of sitting with a laptop for long periods of time, and should avoid very hot baths.
Supplements can help
There is much debate about whether supplementation is really necessary. Ideally we would get all of our nutrients from our diet. However, I am yet to meet anyone with the perfect diet, so supplementation with a good quality food state multi-vitamin is recommended, especially when trying to conceive.
I would recommend high quality supplements from an ethical company.
Although infertility impacts both men and women, the good news is that with some easy diet and lifestyle changes, your reproductive health and chance of conceiving can be significantly increased in a relatively short space of time.