Making the decision to start a family is an exciting time for couples; however, due to increasing infertility rates, this excitement can quickly turn into stress and feelings of disappointment and inadequacy.
I generally see 90% of women in my clinic, who are after fertility information, whether it be in preparation to starting a family or if they and their partner have been trying for years. Only occasionally do they drag their poor husband along to see me, usually a little red faced, arms folded and thinking, what is this hippy going to tell me I need now, ground up tiger penis or something? (This is actually what my husbands dad thinks I prescribe)
Guess what guys, 40% of infertility cases can be attributed to male factors either as a primary problem or in combination with the issues of the females this just highlights the importance of male reproductive health as an integral part of preconception care.
Fortunately sperm is produced every 90 days, meaning it is entirely possible to improve sperm count, motility, quality of DNA in just 3 months! Unlike women who are born with all of their egg follicles, men can actually improve their sperm health in many cases through herbs, dietary and lifestyle changes, this is great news. Of course there are many reasons for male infertility or problems trying to conceive and not just the health and quantity of the sperm.
Causes of Male Infertility
- Inadequate sperm production by the (eh hmmmmm) testes
- Poor sperm motility
- Varicocele (dilated veins in the scrotum)
- Undescended testis/testes
- Excessive xenoestrogen (environmental estrogen) exposure
- Infectious disease of the epidydimis (storage tube for sperm), testes, seminal vesicles, urethra, prostate or vas; benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlargement)
- Endocrine (glandular) diseases affecting the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals and the testes (e.g. low DHEA and low testosterone levels)
- Congenital abnormalities
- Urethral stricture
- Malnutrition, especially protein deficiency
Adding more swimmers to the fast lane
The average sperm count is between 120 and 350 million per cubic centimeter. A low sperm count is below 40 million per cubic centimeter. Low sperm counts or poor sperm motility may be due to environmental toxins such as chemicals, radiation, heavy metal exposure, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol use, heat, tight fitting underwear, street drug use, pollution and some medications.
Reduce chemical exposure
In this day and age, the sperm quality is actually less than it was 50 years ago2. Scientists argue that this has to do with exposure to chemicals, environmental toxins, pollution and plastics.
Many natural practitioners and GP’s believe that there has been a link with the exposure to xenoestrogens (PCBs, DDT, dioxin, other pesticides, plastics and industrial pollutants), which have been found to mimic the effects of estrogen. Luckily there are many ways that you can limit, prevent or minimize the impact of xenoestrogens on your health by:
- Avoiding plastic containers for food storage, plastic bottles, wraps and plastic utensils
- Use only non-bleached coffee filters, paper, napkins and toilet tissue to reduce dioxin exposure.
- Eat organic food as much as possible to avoid pesticides and herbicides.
- Avoid animal products with a high fat content that contain added hormones, especially conventional milk and dairy products, chicken, beef and pork.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Eat lots of foods high in antioxidants (carotenes, vitamins A, C, E and selenium) such as green leafy vegetables, kale, carrots, citrus, broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potato.
Lets get down to business:
Sperm have a very demanding role to play in reproduction. The journey that sperm have to undertake on their way to fertilise an egg has been likened to a human trying to swim a journey of several thousand km’s. It really is important for these guys to be able to withstand a lot of chaotic factors. Bless them. How can we naturally aid these guys and make sure that they are performinf at their best? With the right diet, supplementation, and TLC these guys can be a force to be reckoned with.
- Zinc: Makes up 90 per cent of sperm tails and helps sperm swim ‘straight’. Eat oysters, pumpkin seeds, eggs, ginger, capsicum and seafood to boost your levels.
- Selenium: Sperm are susceptible to heat and oxidative damage. The antioxidant selenium is a defense. Eating, alfalfa, broccoli, brazil nuts, cashews, tuna and onions. It is present in top organic soil, but has diminished from soil somewhat due to farming techniques, you may need a supplement
- Vitamin C: Another effective antioxidant. Kiwifruit and red capsicum are rich sources.
- Essential Fatty Acids: Found in foods such as fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, they help strengthen cells, giving sperm protection against oxidative damage.
- Brassica Vegetables: Vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage can cleanse the liver and detoxify, lowering your toxic load improves sperm health and healthy hormone production.
SO a long story short. Men, It is important to keep your health in check too when you are embarking on the bedroom disco or waltzing your way to becoming a father. Eating the right foods, reducing stress and avoiding a few things could be the key to getting pregnant and creating life. So, don’t be afraid, come and have a chat or email me if you have any questions in regards to your little swimmers.