Decreased rates of male fertility have become epidemic in North America, yet when most people think about infertility, they still assume that the “problem” is likely with the woman. This is not the case at all. Male infertility accounts for 40% of all cases of infertility and 1 in 7 men in North America now have low sperm counts.
What is causing this increase in male infertility? There is no one easy answer. It is caused by a lot of things that have become prevalent and normal in our day to day lives. Things like stress, exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals, pesticides, cells phones, lap tops, lack of exercise, lack of nutritious food, and the list goes on. In today’s post I will help to remove some of the overwhelm that comes with male fertility and give you some easy steps to follow to optimize your sperm health.
The good news is men make new sperm every 72 days, which essentially allows you to start over every 2.5 months with a clean slate. This means that making diet and lifestyle changes can greatly improve your changes of having a baby and sperm health can change greatly in not very long of a time frame. In my practice, I routinely see men make the changes that are listed below and have significant improvements in overall sperm counts, sperm motility and sperm morphology in as little as 3 months.
Removing Obstacles to Sperm Health
It’s not all about the good stuff you give your body, often we need to take out a few things that are hindering the process
- Cell Phones- Still a fairly new invention, as far as the world of medicine is concerned. There have been multiple studies that have shown that keeping your cell phone in your front pocket lowers sperm counts, reduces sperm motility and increases abnormalities in the structure of the sperm.
- Laptops- It is well known that sperm are healthiest then they are kept at lower than body temperature. Working with a lap top on your lap increases the temperature of the sperm. Other things to avoid for increased temperature are; prolonged saunas and trips to the hot tub and wearing tight fitting underwear.
Hormone Disrupting Toxins- Exposure comes from many different sources, but some easy ways to reduce these are
- Eating organic for the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables
- Switching conventional skin and hair care products for safer options- the Axe has got to go!
- Not heating your food in plastic containers
- Removing air freshers from house and car
- Switching to natural cleaning products
- Cigarettes- They not only cause DNA damage to the sperm, they can cause long term health effects in your future baby, like a higher risk for childhood leukemia.
- Alcohol- Moderate drinking (more than 2 drinks/day most days of the week) has been shown to reduce sperm motility.
- Soy- Soy acts as a phytoestrogen in the body. Eating too much soy can cause receptor sites that are supposed to be occupied by testosterone to get occupied from the estrogen in soy instead, causing hormonal imbalances.
Adding in Foods that are Helpful for Sperm Health
Now that we have gotten rid of all the bad stuff, it is time to build healthy sperm from the ground up!
- Mediterranean Diet- Has been shown to help with semen quality and is a good overall anti-inflammatory diet for hormonal health.
- Zinc- Is one of the most important nutrients for sperm health. It has been shown to increase sperm counts, help with motility and morphology. Good sources of zinc are: beef, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and cashews.
- Selenium- Adequate levels of selenium are needed to produce sperm, and low levels are often linked to lower sperm counts. Good food sources are: 2-3 Brazil nuts/day, liver, cod, tuna, and shrimp.
- CoQ10- Is involved in many “high energy” reactions in the body, like the formation of sperm. It helps reduce DNA damage within the sperm. Food sources of CoQ10 are difficult to find, and it is best to supplement.
- Vitamin E- Is highly involved in insuring proper motility of the sperm. Good food sources are: sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, spinach and leafy greens.
- Folic Acid- It’s not just for women! It helps reduce chromosomal abnormalities. Good food sources are: liver, beans, asparagus, and spinach.
- Vitamin C- Helpful for reversing DNA damage in the sperm and increasing motility. Good food sources are: peppers, berries, broccoli, and oranges.
These should help you to get started increasing your sperm health today! It can all be a little overwhelming, but small changes can make a big difference. Sperm health is an important issue, even if you don’t have any issues with the sperm, for dads over the age of 35. Simply being alive on this planet longer has resulted in increased exposures which can have a negative effect on your sperm.
There is plenty more that can be done for sperm health. I offer consults to soon to be parents on how to optimize their chances of fertility, reduce the risk of miscarriage and have their healthiest baby. Click here to schedule your consult. Keep an eye out in the very near future for my online Preconception/Fertility program specially designed for moms in their 30’s.
As always, if you have any questions, please post a comment below
Dr Alexis practice in Kanata, and online, and is currently accepting new patients. Click here to book your appointment
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