Yep, that’s right - it takes two! 

Research increasingly shows that trouble conceiving is not simply caused by infertility, but instead by two slight anomalies in the (future) parents. 

For men, ‘sperm quality’  is often at the forefront of this issue, so in this article we’ll talk about how to improve it!

Article written by Ariane Monnami, nutritionist specialised in Micro-nutrition. 

 

Sperm cells don’t like heat! 

Heat can reduce sperm cell ‘mobility’ and this is exactly why Mother Nature decided to put the testes outside the body, whilst the ovaries are kept nice in warm inside the stomach. 

So, anything which can cause an increase in temperature can affect your fertility. This could even be things such as tight underwear or trousers.. enough to excuse those who prefer boxer shorts!

 

Apart from fashion preferences, another harmful habit is placing your laptop on your lap - sperm cells definitely do not appreciate all of the extra heat generated by your computer! 

Instead, try to find an appropriate ‘lap desk’ on which you can place your laptop, leaving about 10cm between you and your device.

 

Watch out for toxic chemicals! 

Many toxic chemicals found in the environment and even in our food can disturb both hormone and sperm cell production. 

At the forefront of these dangerous substances are endocrine disruptors. These have a similar chemical structure to female hormones, which then interfere with male hormone production. 

Xeno-estrogens (xeno meaning ‘foreign’) are a good example of these and are found in pesticides, some fertilisers and plastics. Unfortunately humans are not the only ones to be affected by these. Large lakes in Canada have also shown to contain an abnormally high amount of female fish due to the effects of agricultural by-products. 

Lead and cadmium, present in exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke, are directly toxic for sperm cells. Here are just a few simple tips to limit your exposure to these toxic chemicals: 

1. Drink bottled water (ideally in glass bottles). 

2. Avoid storing water bottles and oil in the sun or near a heat source. 

3. Avoid heating food in its wrapping (even microwave-safe ready meals). 

4. Opt for organic meat and vegetables when possible. 

5. Give up smoking! Tobacco is the main source of ‘controllable’ lead and cadmium. 

  

Improve your nutrition! 

This might seem a bit silly but it’s not at all! In fact, simple dietary changes can help improve the quality of your sperm cells in only three months… 

Research has shown that a Mediterranean diet is particularly effective in improving male fertility and has many health benefits. This diet largely consists of fish, poultry, whole-grains, legumes, heart-healthy fats and oils, lots of fresh fruit and vegetable and only a low to moderate amount of red meat. It’s rich in antioxydants (vitamin E and C, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc etc..), in folate and in vitamin D, which plays an important role in sperm cell production. It’s also rich in omega 3 fatty acids and low in saturated and trans-saturated fats. 

So, what’s the big deal? Well all of this helps with cell membrane flexibility, allowing sperm cells to be more ‘agile’ and this is exactly the solution needed for anyone with decreased sperm mobility. 

 

Keep an eye on your waistline… 

Over the years, there have been many studies to show the link between excess weight and female infertility. However, men are just as affected by this, and as demonstrated in a 2017 study: “overweight men show a lower sperm count as a result of hormone disruptions”. According to this study, excess weight can have a significant effect on fertility, with a 10kg increase in body weight negatively affecting fertility by 10%!  

 

Let nature take its time 

Sperm cells need around 70 days to mature which means that even if you start putting all these things into practice tonight, you’ll only be able to see the results in two to three monts time. But the good news is that following all of these tips will lead to an overall improvement in general health! So you’ll be much more prepared to welcome the baby when it arrives.. and even be the one to get up during the night! 

 

References 

  • Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies. Albert Salas-Huetos Mònica Bulló Jordi Salas-Salvadó. Human Reproduction Update, Volume 23, Issue 4, 1 July 2017, Pages 371–389
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Russell J, et al "Daily protein content correlates with increased fertility and pregnancy outcome" ACOG 2013; Abstract Poster 96.
  • Sallmen M coll. : “ Reduced Fertility Among Overweight and Obese Men.” Epidemiology. 17 : 520-23