Male fertility is an important aspect of family planning and reproduction. While there are many factors that contribute to fertility, including genetics, age, and overall health, there are also practical steps that men can take to improve their fertility. In this blog post, we will explore nutrition and lifestyle changes that can boost sperm count, motility, and morphology, and identify some key nutrients that may be worth focusing on.
1. Adopt a Nutrient-Rich Diet
A healthy diet is crucial for overall health, energy, and reproduction. A diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods can boost fertility by providing the essential nutrients to support healthy sperm production. Here are some nutrients that may be particularly helpful, and where to find them in food:
- Zinc: This mineral is a crucial component of sperm cells, and a deficiency can lead to reduced sperm count and testosterone levels. Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, red meat, chicken, beans, and nuts.
- Vitamin C: This antioxidant supports sperm motility and count. Citrus fruits, berries, bell peppers, and leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C.
- Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with poor sperm quality and decreased fertility. You make a lot of vitamin D from the sunshine (when it's out and strong enough!), and foods rich in vitamin D include fortified cereals, fatty fish, and mushrooms. One thing to note is that is really difficult to get all your vitamin D from food alone. In winter months when you don't make much from sunlight, the NHS advice is to supplement with 400IU vitamin D, however, I recommend getting your levels tested to determine your optimum dosage.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These essential fatty acids are abundant in fish, nuts, and seeds and have been associated with increased sperm count and motility.
2. Limit Alcohol Consumption
While moderate alcohol consumption has not been associated with significant effects on male fertility, excessive alcohol intake can decrease testosterone levels and reduce sperm count. Men should limit their alcohol consumption, or avoid it altogether.
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking is a common habit that can harm male fertility. Smoking can cause damage to the sperm DNA and decrease testosterone levels, affecting sperm count and quality. There is also a much stronger risk of erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men who are smokers. Quitting smoking can help in improving male fertility. Seek support from your GP to get started.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity can negatively impact male fertility by altering hormone levels and impairing sperm production. Studies have found that men with excess body fat have lower testosterone levels and sperm counts. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight by regular exercise and a healthy diet can improve male fertility.
Being underweight may also be having an impact.
5. Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress can harm reproductive health by reducing sperm count and motility. This occurs because the stress hormone, cortisol, may negatively impact the body's reproductive hormones (the ones that control sperm production). When the body feels it is in a state of urgency and stress, it shuts down a lot of what it deems to be unnecessary functions, such as reproduction. This may occur following periods of physical, emotional, or psychological stress as the body cannot differentiate between them!
Stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, and gentle exercise such as walking can be beneficial for improving male fertility. Even just getting outside for 5-10 minutes in nature each day (without your mobile for distraction) will help.
In conclusion, nutrition and lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on male fertility. Adopting a nutrient-rich diet, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress levels can boost sperm count, motility, and morphology. Key nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids might be wise to focus on to support healthy sperm production. By incorporating these changes, men can maximize their fertility and increase their chances of conception.
If you would like to discuss this more with me, and find out how I can support you with your fertility, please either drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to book in for a free call.