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When we think about fertility, and fertility treatment, it is often the woman who gets the lions share of the attention. I know in my clinic, it is common to see only the woman presenting for treatment. The reality is, it takes two to tango. The male is just as responsible for creating a healthy embryo, and when we see studies suggesting that defective sperm function is the largest single, defined cause of human infertility, perhaps it’s time to divide the attention a little more equally.
The upside – treating male fertility is usually more straightforward, and produces fabulously measurable results. Awesome!
Compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, human sperm is not amazing. It is actually thought to be the worst quality of any mammalian species. And I suppose this is not outstandingly shocking when we consider our men are exposed to a HUGE amount of biological and environmental stress, compared with the average monkey. Many men feel that if they are performing sexually, they are fine. However this is not the case. Illness, nutrition, trauma and toxicity all play their role in preventing sperm from being the best they can be. So what can we do to supercharge sperm? Lots!
Sperm don’t cope in the heat. Thankfully, the male body is wonderfully designed to hold sperm away from the direct heat of the body in the scrotum. Brilliant! The only problem is, tight jocks, wetsuits, cycling shorts, saunas and hot spas all negate this well designed process. Sperm like an optimal temperature of between 34 and 36 degree Celsius. Any hotter than this and their number and function start to suffer. Now I’m not saying that going for a surf is going to annihilate all your sperm, not at all. But if numbers are low or quality is at all an issue, just be mindful of this.
Mobile phones and laptops
Using a mobile phone for more than four hours a day has been shown to have detrimental effects sperm in terms of the way they move and the number of defects they show. Your phone emits radiation in a 1 metre radius, so treat it like a bomb. You want to be at least a metre away from it whenever possible – so get it out of the trouser pockets! Likewise with laptops, sitting on the couch with them on your laps is no good because of the radiation but also the increased temperature – keep it on a desk or table. You can also get various electromagnetic radiation protection patches to stick to your phone or laptop, just ask Uncle Google.
Other lifestyle considerations
Avoid smoking, environmental pollutants and recreational drugs.
Antioxidants are key here. Go crazy with any brightly coloured vegetables and fruit, dark green leafies, berries – go for 8-12 servings of vegetables and 1-2 servings of fresh fruit daily. Figs are especially helpful for male fertility, being packed with vitamins A, C, E, Calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, and traditionally used as an aphrodisiac – winner!
Foods high in zinc and essential fatty acids (like nuts and seeds, cold pressed oils) and good sources of protein (like eggs, organic meat and dairy, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds) are essential for sperm growth and development.
And here’s the kicker, reduce or avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar and artificial additives as much as possible. The healthier your body, the more fertile you will be!
There are a whole host of conditions that can cause poor sperm health. Get it investigated and treated properly as in addition to diet and lifestyle changes, there are a whole host of nutritional and herbal supplements that can correct the underlying problem, and get your (or your man’s) sperm in the best health of its life! Go team!!