Healthy diet evaluation: Male Infertility

When it comes to infertility, much of the conversation typically centers around women. However, in reality, male factor infertility contributes to approximately half of couples' difficulties in conceiving.

There are many causes; male fertility issues are typically due to problems with sperm quality, namely low sperm count, low numbers of normal sperm, and poor sperm motility.

Many lifestyle factors can affect sperm quality and quantity, which many men may not be aware of. These can include a poor diet, being overweight, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and the use of recreational or body-building drugs. These factors may only contribute to male infertility; by improving their diet and lifestyle, men could improve their fertility and chances of conception.

Since male factor infertility is typically due to a problem with the sperm, it is essential to understand the sperm cycle.

Women are born with limited egg reserves; men create new sperm daily. It is, however, essential to note that the complete cycle of sperm production – which includes production and maturation – takes an average of 64 days. So, for men thinking of making lifestyle changes to help improve their chances of conceiving, it's essential to know that they will need up to three months for the lifestyle changes to impact sperm quality.

The importance of maintaining a healthy diet

Fertility health can be affected by your lifestyle choices, so ensuring a healthy, balanced diet is vital.

For many men, simply eating a healthy range of foods will provide the proper nutrients to ensure sperm production is optimal. Many experts recommend the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in antioxidants and omega-3s and low in saturated fats and processed foods.

Can certain foods affect male fertility?

As a rule, men should ensure that their diet contains a balanced range of food groups. However, there is evidence that some foods can help to increase sperm quality, including:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and herring are rich in omega- 3 fatty acids and are associated with success in conceiving. However, fish with high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, tuna, and marlin, should be avoided.
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts – Are rich in nutrients that benefit fertility, including plant proteins, omega-3s, and antioxidants.
  • Fruit and vegetables – Men should aim to get five daily servings of fruit and vegetables that vary in color, to maximize antioxidant intake.

Similarly, there are a few other foods that men may wish to limit when looking to improve their fertility health, including:

  • Processed meats such as bacon, sausages, and ham – Can interfere with male fertility, so men may want to reduce any intake of these when trying for a baby.
  • Trans-fatty acids – Found in margarine, vegetable oils, cakes, doughnuts, and fast food. These have regularly been linked to reduced sperm counts, so where possible, men should try to avoid junk food.
  • Caffeine and alcohol – In excessive amounts, both are associated with lower sperm quality and infertility. Men should try to limit their coffee consumption to one or two cups per day and limit alcohol intake to a maximum of one serving (1-2 units) per day.

Other lifestyle factors

Alongside following a healthy diet, ensuring a generally healthy lifestyle is essential for men looking to improve their fertility and chances of having a baby.

For instance, giving up smoking is vital for helping to improve sperm quality. Similarly, regular exercise can also positively affect male fertility – with evidence suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle can have a bearing on sperm production and quality. Anabolic muscle-building steroids should be avoided, as these can lead to a significant and sometimes irreversible reduction in sperm quality.

What treatment options are available for male infertility?

It is worth booking an initial fertility evaluation if you have been trying for a baby for a while with no success. Along with a semen analysis, this will assess lifestyle risk factors and help determine if there might be a cause for your difficulty conceiving.

If you find that you and your partner are having difficulty conceiving, several options are available for you to consider. Book an Ultrasound Scan & Virtual Consultation with Juhi fertility clinic, and our friendly team can talk you through the best options for you.

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