MALE FERTILITY ESSENTIALS
Contrary to popular belief, male factor infertility contributes up to 50% of total cases of a couple’s infertility. That is why it is just as important to not only test male fertility after 1 year of actively trying to conceive (or 6 months if he is 35 and older), but to also consistently treat both partners when it comes to preconception care and fertility.
ACUPUNCTURE: Acupuncture is my go-to when putting together a male fertility treatment plan. One study of 40 men received acupuncture twice a week for 5 weeks and saw a statistically significant increase in the percentage and number of healthy sperm. Another study of 121 men received electrical acupuncture (a technique we often employ with our family fertility patients) for 2 months found a significant change in total sperm count and motility. Acupuncture is great for reducing stress hormones by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing inflammation, and promoting healthy blood flow to the reproductive organs.
TEMPERATURE: Sperm is heat sensitive, meaning for healthy spermatogenesis to occur, the testes need to remain two degrees Celsius below body temperature. This means limiting or entirely removing hot baths, saunas, tight clothing, laptops on lap, and cell phones in the front pockets.
SMOKING: Smoking cigarettes reduces sperm concentration, motility, and morphology as well as increases DNA damage.
ALCOHOL: Alcohol can have adverse effects on sperm health if consumed in excess. It can also negatively affect hormone balance and blood sugar.
CANNABIS: Research shows that cannabis causes a 25% reduction in sperm count and can negatively influence sperm DNA.
MEDICATIONS: Prescription drugs such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, psychotropics, antihistamines, antihypertensives, ibuprofen, anabolic steroids, and testosterone derivatives can all harm sperm. Most of the time, this damage is temporary and reversible.
EXERCISE: Exercise can help regulate inflammation, improve mitochondrial function and increase mood. Keeping activity level at light to moderate, we generally recommend a 30-45 min cardio/strength training 4-6x per week. A healthy body weight promotes reproductive health through helping to maintain adequate concentrations of reproductive hormones, developing sperm with high fertilization potential. Avoid hot yoga or any activity done in a heated or infrared room as elevated internal body temperature can harm spermatogenesis. However intense training (two hours a day, five days a week) leads to a decrease in testosterone levels of 40 per cent and a reduction of total sperm count of 50 per cent. Cycling more than five hours a week decreases sperm concentration and motility.
SLEEP: Sleep is crucial for regulating hormones and stress levels that can affect fertility. A study shows that men who went to bed before 10:30pm were 4x more likely to have healthy sperm than men who stayed up at 11:30pm. Blue light at night alters cortisol/melatonin levels and the circadian rhythm which has an effect on reproductive hormone output. Avoid light from electronics 2 hours before bed.
STRESS: Stress disrupts the hypothalamic - pituitary - testis axis affecting the hormone response in the reproductive organs. One study showed that stress (from personal life, not work stress) can adversely influence motility, morphology, and concentration of sperm. This is likely due to the increase in oxidative stress that impairs the health of sperm cells.
DIET: There’s no way around it, what you eat has a huge impact on the health of every single partof your body. Fish, shellfish and seafood, poultry, grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat milk have been found to have a positive impact on sperm. The consumption of processed meat, sugary drinks, and satured fat/trans-fats should be avoided. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be a hormone healthy diet for both men and women.
CAFFEINE: Generally, 1 cup of coffee per day is fine for fertility, but it is best to avoid it entirely if possible. Studies have shown a link between caffeine and fertility, with high coffee consumption being associated with an elevated risk of sub-optimal sperm motility, delayed conception, infertility, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia leading to pre-diabetes, and poor assisted reproductive therapy outcomes. Research shows that an individual's caffeine metabolizing capability associated with coffee consumption impacts risk of pre-diabetes and hypertension.
SUPPLEMENTS: Supplements can help in key areas where diet can sometimes lack. Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin d, zinc, antioxidants, and CoQ10 are some great examples. My favorite male supplements are our Mito Motile package. Mito Motile is a comprehensive male reproductive fertility support kit, providing clinically relevant vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and amino acids, essential fatty acids, and critical supportive nutrients for healthy male function.
Treating male factor fertility is crucial for pregnancy health and health of the baby! To find out what your individual treatment plan may look like for male fertility, give us a call at 604-678-8600 to book a free 15 minute discovery call, or book your initial consultation online.