At our Gold Coast natural health clinic, we are seeing infertility on the rise, however, we don’t often see a lot of men asking about the health of their bodies & sperm, it is often the women seeking answers for infertility.
However, with infertility affecting 15-20% of couples, in 50% of these cases the male plays a role in the infertility and of those, 30% of the time the male is the sole responsibility for infertility.
So, what can be the issue?
- Anatomical or genetic abnormalities
- Systemic or neurological diseases
- Iatrogenic injury
- Gonadotoxins & development of sperm antibodies
What environmental/lifestyle factors increase the risk of infertility & poor sperm quality?
- Excessive alcohol consumption (more than 3 standard drinks per day)
- Obesity (associated with genetic changes in the sperm, that affect fertilisation, embryo development & pregnancy outcomes)
- Scrotal exposure to elevated temperatures
- Drugs eg. opioids, testosterone, cannabis & psychotropic agents
- Occupation eg. ionising radiation, vibrations, pesticides and/or solvents, exposure to heat
What can you do to improve sperm health?
- Anti-oxidants; Sperm cells lack cytoplasm, so there is no defence mechanism against oxidative damage. Therefore, your diet needs to be full of these; min 5 servings of colourful fruit & vegetables, as well as brazil nuts, tinned tomato, walnuts.
- Zinc helps to improve testosterone levels and increase the quality of sperm – chickpeas, oysters, egg yolks, liver, pumpkin and sunflower seeds & nuts
- Vitamin B12 prevents DNA damage inside sperm cells – Egg yolk, herring, liver, oysters, sardines, beef, turkey
- Vitamin C assists with sperm motility, which is important so they are swimming the right way 😉 – Broccoli, capsicum, pawpaw, tomato, citrus fruit, parsley, kiwifruit
**Always try to buy free range, organic meat or spray free/organic vegetables and fruit, where possible to reduce toxin exposure
- Wear loose clothing and avoid tight pants to reduce the temperature and allow your testes to breathe.
- Reduce alcohol to no more than a couple of standard drinks per day, though if you can, have some booze free days or even better, weeks! Swap to red wine and try to avoid the sugar laden mixes with spirits.
- Stop smoking– need we say more!
- Start exercising to shift excess weight, assist with stress relief, improve circulation & so much more! A combination of cardio and weight bearing exercises 4-5 times a week is recommended.
In terms of nutrient supplementation, it is advised to always seek advice from a health care provider prior to purchasing off the shelf supplements, because yes you can have TOO much of a vitamin or mineral, leading to toxicity. Adding nutrient dense foods into your everyday diet is the best way to start.
Don’t forget, the quality of your sperm is vital to the health of your child and their children! You don’t want your sperm to just scrape through on a health check, so starting as early as you can with getting your health on track is going to provide the most benefit!
If you would like some assistance with your fertility journey or have any questions, please contact us on (07) 5531 6461 or you can book online here.
Written by Amanda Flower (Naturopath & Nutritional Medicine)
Katz et.al, D. (2019). RACGP – Male infertility – The other side of the equation. [online] Racgp.org.au. Available at: https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2017/september/male-infertility/
Robert John Aitken, Not every sperm is sacred; a perspective on male infertility, Molecular Human Reproduction, Volume 24, Issue 6, June 2018, Pages 287–298, https://doi.org/10.1093/molehr/gay010