Falling sperm counts and the rise in male infertility has led to an increased interest in the nutritional and environmental factors that influence the development and quality of sperm. Infertility is a multi-factorial condition and poor nutrition, exposure to pollutants and toxins, recreational drugs and medications, plus general lifestyle factors such as stress all play their part in affecting sperm count, motility and morphology (shape).
Our Male Fertility Programme is part of our couples assessment whether trying naturally or through IVF and as part of that programme we provide a detailed questionnaire which explores nutritional and lifestyle factors from which we are able to suggest ways to help improve sperm health. We also undertake a detailed semen analysis, interpret the results and make suggestions which may include further tests and investigations. We will then advise you what the next steps should be, either naturally or going through IVF.
How can nutrition help? – Nutritional consultations
A good diet is essential for healthy sperm development, for what you exclude as much as what you put in. There is an increasing amount of research into sperm quality and viability, and it is now believed that men with a comparatively low sperm count can still be fertile if the sperm is in good condition, so ensuring your nutrition supports the condition of sperm is essential.
Damage to sperm
Sperm is particularly vulnerable to what is known as oxidative stress or free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are linked with cellular destruction, and high levels endanger sperm function and viability. Some causes are poor nutrition, pollutants such as smoking and poor detoxification processes in the body. Burnt, fried and barbecued foods are also sources of free radicals. Damage often results in abnormally formed sperm, and a poor morphology result. Free radicals can also cause sperm to become hyperactive whilst still in the reproductive tract which affects their motility. Semen normally contains agents known as anti-oxidants to protect sperm against free radicals and if in some way this natural defence system is impaired, the effect on sperm can be extremely damaging. Therefore it is essential both to remove potential causes of free radical damage and to eat a diet high in anti-oxidants.
Sources of free radicals:
- Processed foods, particularly foods high in artificial additives
- Fast foods
- Recreational drugs
- Foods that contain high amounts of poor quality fats and oils, particularly processed meats, margarines, biscuits and pastries, and take-away foods
- Fried, barbecued and burnt foods
- Exposure to environmental pollution such as traffic fumes.
In our male fertility consultations we will guide you through any nutritional and lifestyle adjustments required to boost sperm health, suggest any appropriate supplements (see our Male Fertility Gold Pack) and develop a manageable action plan to increase your chances of having a baby.
Help and support
Very often following a poor result men find it very difficult to discuss the issues. We have an excellent counselling service providing emotional and psychological help and support.