Low sperm count or poor sperm quality is the main cause of male infertility and it is on the rise. On a positive note, research shows that men can have more control over their sperm than they may think! Here are my top tips for improving sperm quality.
Steal your partner’s folic acid
Chances are, if you are trying for a baby then your partner will be taking folic acid. A Dutch study showed taking folic acid alongside zinc (a well-known sperm booster) improved sperm count by 74%.
Selenium has also shown promise in improving sperm quality. Found in high concentrations in Brazil nuts, some studies have shown it helps those with fragile sperm and poor motility.
Use fish to turn sperm into super swimmers!
Omega 3 Essential fats found in abundance in oily fish are vital for sperm production. A study by the University of Illinois found that infertile mice had their fertility restored when given omega 3 essential fats. They also discovered that omega 3 turned sperm into super swimmers and that development of the head of the sperm was reliant on this nutrient.
Get your mobile phone out
….of your pocket that is! A meta-analysis showed that carrying a mobile device in your pocket reduces sperm quality, motility and count. In one of my clinics, a patient’s sperm count doubled when he stopped carrying his pager around in his trouser pocket.
Worth Trying for
In my clinical experience, women are far more likely to comply with healthy eating programmes and supplement regimes than men in order to conceive! Boosting fertility in men requires an all-round approach of good diet, lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking) and supplements.
Research carried out by the charity Foresight indicated that 82% of infertile men conceived if they followed the programme completely. It takes at least three months for new sperm to form so improvement in sperm quality takes a little patience!
The main cause of infertility is actually “unexplained infertility”. Many of these couples will turn to IVF. However, according to 2010 figures, success rates for IVF stand at around 25%. This is of little comfort to those desperate for a baby.
Research shows Nutritional Therapy could offer far greater hope to these couples. A study carried out by the University of Surrey showed that successful conception is actually not rocket science! Couples who had been given a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” took nutritional supplements, made lifestyle and dietary changes as part of the research. The results were astounding – 80% conceived. This is pretty impressive when you consider the figures for IVF!
In addition, IVF comes at a price (not just financially). American research discovered that IVF babies were up to 30 per cent more likely to suffer from birth defects than those conceived naturally. These included cleft palate, digestive abnormalities and heart valve defects. The reasons for this are unclear and may be due in part to the fact that older women seek IVF where the risks of defects are increased.
What this study clearly shows is that many couples do not conceive because of nutritional deficiencies. Our typical diet today is depleted of the key nutrients needed to support the endocrine (hormone) system. Lifestyle factors such as smoking and high alcohol intake also affect fertility.
How Nutritional Therapy can help
Even a so-called healthy diet for one may not be suitable for another given that we all have a different make up genetically. A tailor made diet and supplement regime is suggested to all my couples trying to conceive. Lifestyle changes go alongside this programme including stress management. In many of the infertile women I see, the thyroid has become slightly underactive. This may not even show on blood tests but their body temperature is usually lower than 37 degrees Celsius . Taking your body temperature daily on waking is a really good sign of thyroid function and can also pinpoint when and if ovulation is occurring.
Nutritional Therapy requires a little patience as the body’s biochemistry does not change overnight. I always suggest couples follow their programmes for at least three months. In clinical practice, around 90% of my infertile patients have conceived successfully. Conception times have ranged from six weeks to two years of treatment.
The rewards are well worth waiting for!