Men's Health - Fertility Plan How to Increase Sperm Count and Increase Sperm Quality to Improve Offspring Odds Your fertility level may be
Men’s Health – Fertility Plan
How to Increase Sperm Count and Increase Sperm Quality to Improve Offspring Odds
Your fertility level may be an indicator of your overall health.
Consider the critical event that takes place approximately 339 days previous to the birth of a child: the birth of the sperm that fertilized the egg which became the child in the first place. On the day that particular sperm was created, if the father was a healthy male, several million other sperm were created along with it. Between 2 and 3 months later it was released, with anywhere from 40 million to 1.2 billion other sperm cells.
Selective, healthy sperm have motility (progressive and active movement), morphology (correct shape), a good concentration, and a significant sperm count in the semen. Even healthy sperm face major obstacles in reach and fertilizing eggs. Since the 1970s, male fertility has dropped worldwide. In the United States, sperm count is down by over 50%. Research has shown that semen quality has also decreased in the last 20 years, suggesting a positive correlation between sperm count and quality.
Fathers have some degree of control when it comes to sperm quality. Diet and lifestyle often significantly impact sperm health. Infertility affects between 10%-15% of reproductive-aged men, accounting for half of all cases of infertility in couples. Often, semen analysis and DNA fragmentation tests (SDFs) are used to determine male fertility.
In animal studies, the father’s diet, stress, and chemical exposure have been associated with the health of his offspring. Studies have also found a correlation between a father’s age and the DNA mutations in his sperm, including increased instances of autism, schizophrenia, dwarfism, and childhood cancer in the offspring of older men.
Assuming that you plan to conceive a child in the future, you can begin with a spermatogenesis plan, with the knowledge that creating mature sperm can take longer than two months. Your plan should include the following components:
Improve your physical health:
lose weight, be physically active, consume healthy diet with vitamins & minerals, activities, and age considerations
Limit your exposure:
air quality and endocrine inhibitors
Improve your emotional health:
stress and anxiety
Removing excess weight is an important step to improve sperm count and health. A study co-authored by Jorge Chavarro, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, found overweight and obese men were more likely than their normal-weight peers to produce lower numbers of sperm or even no sperm at all. Moderately overweight men were 11% more likely to have a low sperm count and 39% more likely to have no sperm in their ejaculate, while obese men were 42% more likely to have a low sperm count and 81% more likely to produce no sperm.
BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
In a descriptive cross-sectional study, semen samples of 17 physically active men and 15 sedentary men were collected. Sperm health was significantly better in six of the nine measured factors for the physically active men. The remaining three factors had no significant change between the men. Positive lifestyle changes in this study of 207 men between the ages of 20-55 yrs. old through physical activity and the healthy DASH diet led to a significant outcome in sperm count, sperm concentration, sperm shape, and sperm movement. It may feel too cold to go for a run outside during many months in eastern Idaho. Make a list of activities for all seasons, and make plans to do them.
CONSUME A HEALTHY DIET INCLUDING VITAMINS & MINERALS
A narrative review of 23 observational studies diets found that a diet including fruit and vegetables, for their contents in vitamins, and fish or low-fat dairy products as the main source of proteins, are associated with better semen quality.
A narrative review of 23 observational studies found that a diet including fruits and vegetables and fish or low-fat dairy products as the main sources of protein was associated with better semen quality. In another case study, 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day for 2-months showed an increase in sperm count, and a significant increase in sperm shape and motility.
In another group of 20 infertile males, a study determined the effect of daily oral antioxidant treatment on sperm health for three months with the following dose of vitamins and nutrients:
- l-Carnitine – 1500 mg
- Vitamin C – 60 mg
- Coenzyme Q10 – 20 mg
- Vitamin E – 10 mg
- zinc – 10 mg
- vitamin B9 – 200 μg
- Selenium – 50 μg of
- vitamin B12 – 1 μg
The results suggested that antioxidant treatment improved sperm quality and helped to maintain sperm DNA integrity. Consider the DASH and Mediterranean diets to help you along your way to improving your health.
FOCUS ON ACTIVITIES & AGE
Fathers can improve key lifestyle activities that relate to sperm health & fertility:
- Quit coffee, caffeinated energy drinks, smoking, alcohol, and illicit drug use.
- Limit testicular heat stress (wear baggy underwear and pants, avoid hot saunas/baths before conception, avoid laptops on your lap, and limit biking & horseback riding).
- Receive adequate sleep.
- Limit exposure to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones by changing pockets where the phone resides so that it is further away from sperm production. Keep the laptop off the lap to improve sperm motility and decrease sperm fragmentation.
Twenty-four healthy males between 17 and 29 underwent a 16-week low-to-intensive cyclist training regimen. A negative impact on sperm health was detected as early as 30 days after the training.
Also, the popular notion that a father’s fertility will continue well past a woman’s decline in fertility can be misleading. Increases in the father’s age are linked to increased time to conception, decreases in semen quality, and increasing rates of DNA fragmentation. An association between father’s age and the incidence of birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities also exists.
For example, there is a correlation between paternal age and the risk of autism. The overall probability of a father having autistic offspring is small and has a tendency to run in families with gene changes associated with autism. Still, men 40 years or older were 5.75 times more likely to sire children with autism, compared with offspring of men younger than 30. Advancing maternal age, by contrast, showed no association with autism.
In 2020, a meta-analysis combining 11 studies across 4,562 male participants found that air pollution can be associated with decreased semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm’s ability to move, and sperm’s normal shape. Another study found an association between fine particle matter (PM2.5) in the air and a decrease in sperm quality of shape.
In Rexburg, the air quality is generally good, but it can change from day to day. You may check this air quality index and plan accordingly. The air quality in your home or at work may also be substantially worse than outdoors, depending on many factors. Consider air filters when necessary.
CHEMICALS THAT INTERFERE WITH SPERM PRODUCTION (ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS)
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are linked to the decline in sperm count and quality. Some of them are legal and considered safe at low levels. Other countries have made some of these chemicals illegal.
Presently, in many everyday products in the US, chemicals are present that are known to compromise the functions of hormones, which are required for sperm production. The following chemicals can decrease semen quality:
- Phthalates: A family of chemicals that make plastic soft and flexible. Found in hundreds of products we use every day (e.g. toys, vinyl flooring, wall coverings, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos). Studies associate phthalate with declining sperm density and volume.
- BPA: Bisphenol is an industrial chemical found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is associated with a decrease in sperm health (motility, sperm-producing cells, concentration, morphology, and sperm membrane integrity). 153 boys were compared at birth with their parents, some of whom had occupational exposure to BPA. BPA was found to possibly adversely affect male genital development (e.g. anogenital distance, hypospadias, and cryptorchidism).
- Dioxins: Pesticides, and the unwanted byproducts from incomplete burning of household and industrial waste. Also, a byproduct in bleaching paper pulp, manufacturing certain chlorinated chemicals. Dioxins are found in exhaust from vehicles, forest fires, and wood burning. Small unharmful amounts are found in daily products (e.g. toilet paper, diapers). A dioxin study compared 135 exposed males to 184 healthy males, finding a decrease in sperm production, sperm concentration, and sperm movement (motility). Dioxins are by-products of many forms of combustion and several industrial chemical processes. They are persistently harmful organic pollutants that are often found in fertilizer. These environmental pollutants are chemically related compounds. They accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. According to the World Health Organization, more than 90% of human exposure to dioxins is through food. Trimming fat from meat, not eating the skin and fat of fish, and choosing low-fat dairy products may decrease exposure to dioxins. Washing fruits and vegetables will decrease the pesticide dioxin. And a balanced diet will decrease exposure from one source.
- PCB: Man-made organic chemicals consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine atoms. PCB production was banned in the United States in 1979, but may still be found in transformers, electrical equipment, old electrical devices, fluorescent light ballasts, oil-based paints, and so much more. PCB has been found to reduce sperm count, progressive motility, and the total number of motile sperm. It has been shown to decrease thyroid hormone levels in animals. Fathers can limit chemical exposure through education and identification. For example, some products state “phthalate-free” or “BPA-free”. Avoid plastic with food and beverages. Possibly avoid packaged water in plastic water bottles. Especially avoid plastic bottles filled with water that have been heated in the back of a car, or food in plastics heated in the microwave. Identify and avoid possible dioxins from fires, exhaust, and in the fat of the meats you eat. To identify more toxic substances click here.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH IMPACT ON FERTILITY
Stress, or increased cortisol levels, negatively impact testosterone levels. A stress-combating medicinal plant, Withania Somnifera, has been shown to improve semen quality in stress-related male fertility cases. Another study finds depression and anxiety in males can decrease semen volume and sperm density.
Behavioral modification and lifestyle choices may be the first step to improving your emotional health. What are the major causes of stress/anxiety/depression, and what actions or reactions can help you improve? Healthcare professionals, as well as the action plans recognized above, may also help improve men’s emotional health and impactive fertility.
Act to improve your health, and increase your sperm count quality, with your own three-step plan. First, take steps to improve your physical health. Second, limit your exposure to negative substances. And third, don’t neglect to focus on your emotional health.
We’d love to help you along any path of this journey. Call to make an appointment today.
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