Improving Sperm Health
Half of all cases of infertility are due to male factor, and recent news articles and research have put male fertility back in the spotlight.
The good news is that unlike women who are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, men continue to produce sperm. So what a man does now can improve his fertility two to three months from now.
Diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplements — all can affect a man's fertility. These factors can also affect a couple's chances at a successful in vitro fertilization (IVF). A recent Brazilian study of 250 men who were undergoing IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that the chances of a successful IVF increase if men have diet high in fruit and grains, and low in red meat, alcohol and coffee. The men's weight and diet had an effect on sperm concentration and motility (how well sperm swim).
The researchers found the following:
- Sperm concentration was negatively affected by body mass index (BMI) and alcohol consumption.
- Sperm concentration was positively affected by cereal consumption and the number of meals per day.
- Sperm motility was negatively influenced by BMI, alcohol consumption and smoking.
- Sperm motility was positively influenced by consumption of fruits and cereals.
So, here are some Dos and Don'ts for Male Fertility:
- No smoking or illicit drug use. These lower sperm counts and sperm motility.
- Limit alcohol. Most experts agree that you shouldn't drink more than one or two drinks per day. However, if you are undergoing fertility treatment, you may want to further limit your alcohol intake — a recent study found that for men or women undergoing IVF, drinking four or more drinks per week prior to an IVF cycle is associated with a 48 percent higher risk for failed fertilization and a 21 percent lower chance for a live birth.
- Avoid excessive heat exposure such as hot tubs, prolonged hot baths and laptops sitting on the lap.Keep cell phones out of the front pocket.
- Avoid environmental toxins such as pesticides, solvents, organic fumes or radiation that may impair fertility.
- Limit caffeine to one or two beverages a day.
- Avoid lubricants such as K-Y jelly or Replens.
- Stay away from muscle-building nutritional supplements. Any supplements that have "hormone-like" substances such as DHEA or "andro" can actually stop sperm production completely.
- Manage stress. High stress levels can lower sperm volume and raise the percentage of abnormal sperm.
- Have sex. Recent studies indicate that more frequent sexual intercourse be better for increasing sperm counts.
- Exercise moderately. (Prolonged exercise may cause a temporary change in hormone levels and drop in sperm quality.)
- Eat a balanced diet with extra fruits and vegetables and plenty of fluids. Antioxidants may improve sperm health.
- Get your vitamins. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect the body's cells from damage from oxidative stress and free radicals. Studies have shown that Vitamin E improves sperm motility (movement) and morphology (size and shape). Other nutrients that may be helpful include: selenium, lycopene, zinc, folic acid and L-Carnitine.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being either under- or overweight has been linked with a lower sperm count and concentration.
If you would like to have your sperm health checked, you and your partner can come in for a Fertility Awareness Check-Up, which costs just $90 and includes testing for females and males. Testing for males is a single test called a Strict Kruger Morphology Semen Analysis. This particular type of Semen Analysis measures the sperm count, motility and strict morphology which will help to determine a man’s fertility potential.
To arrange an appointment please call my office at (815) 356-7034 (Crystal Lake) or (847) 215-8899 (Buffalo Grove) or our FCI Call Center at (877) 324-4483. The office or call center will help determine the best day to come in for testing.