Male Factors for Fertility

Fertility is a team effort; for a healthy baby, dad’s choices matter!

Male sperm counts have been declining for decades. While the exact cause is unknown, it is likely to be multifactorial, including an unhealthy diet and environmental exposures to pesticides, exogenous estrogens (estrogens from animals or estrogen mimics in pesticides, plastics etc.), and exposure to heavy metals.

The Influence of Diet on Male Fertility:

Sperm are exquisitely sensitive to oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress is the leading cause of male subfertility. In the final stages of sperm formation, cytoplasm is extracted for the cell.  This creates a lean, fast swimmer. It also reduces the sperm’s protection from free radical exposures which lead to oxidative stress. The best source of anti-oxidants is fruits and vegetables in our diet.  But, 80% of men do not eat the recommended five servings per day.

And organic may be a wise choice for men too!  A 2015 study revealed that the men who ate the most pesticide-laden vegetables and fruits had 50% lower sperm counts and 32% more abnormally shaped sperm.  Consumer reports has a useful guide as to which vegetables and fruits are the worst pesticide actors.  This can help you select wisely when cost of organic is a factor.

Vitamins and Fertility in Men:

A 2010 meta-analysis reviewed thirty-four studies of more than 2,800 couples undergoing fertility treatment. When men took antioxidants, they were four times more likely to impregnate their partner, and the rate of live birth was five times higher. A wide range of antioxidants was used in the studies and included vitamins C and E, zinc, folic acid, and selenium.

Zinc in the diet may enhance sperm quality. (Rich sources of zinc include cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, oysters & crab meat.) Men who were treated with a combination of folic acid and zinc sulphate showed a 74 percent increase in normal sperm count.  Other studies indicate that L-arginine increases sperm count and motility; some show that zinc alone improves the sperm’s motility; there have also been studies of the antioxidants vitamins C, E, and CoQ10.

Vitamin D is also important for men. There is preliminary evidence that vitamin D deficiency corresponds to an increased risk of autism in the child. Vitamin D is important in repairing DNA damage and protecting against oxidative stress, so men, too, should be sure their levels are normal.

Fats and Male Fertility:

In a Danish study male recruits who ate the most saturated fats had a 38% lower sperm concentration and 41% lower sperm counts than those men who ate the least fat.

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to increase sperm concentration from 16.2 to 28.7 million per ml.  Sperm contains rich amounts of essential fatty acids – including omega-3 contribute to the sperm’s fluidity which is necessary for it to penetrate and fertilize the egg.  One study compared the sperm of eighty-two infertile men with reduced sperm count to the sperm of seventy-eight fertile men. Fertile men had higher blood and spermatozoa levels of omega-3 fatty acids, compared with the infertile men.  And a 2013 study showed that bacon and processed meats were associated with impaired male fertility.

 Avoiding Electromagnetic Fields:

Please think twice about carrying your cell phone on your belt or in your pocket.  Men who do so lower their sperm counts and produce more abnormal sperm.