While focus and responsibility is commonly put on women to prepare their bodies for pregnancy, less is known about lifestyle interventions men can make to improve pregnancy outcomes. Where fertility is concerned, approximately 40 percent of infertility is due to male abnormalities.
"Where fertility is concerned, approximately 40 percent of infertility is due to male abnormalities."
Research suggests male infertility is multifaceted. While it is important to see a qualified medical specialist to rule out structural and hormonal issues, nutritional intervention can be an affordable and proactive avenue to support general health and improve parameters. Begin today! Proper preparation improves outcomes.
Wondering where to start?
Address negative lifestyle factors and reduce gonadotoxic exposures
Negative lifestyle factors include smoking (and vaping), drugs, alcohol, caffeine but gonadotoxins also include pesticides, plastics and endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastics, hygiene and cleaning products. Simple changes you can make include storing foods in glass containers, avoid drinking out of and heating foods in plastics, swop hygiene and chemical products for natural products.
Maintain a healthy body fat % through diet and exercise
For men, this is between 14 and 24 percent. Being both underweight and overweight can impact fertility. Research suggests obesity is associated with lower sperm count and poor sperm morphology.
"Obesity is associated with lower sperm count and poor sperm morphology."
Increase antioxidant intake to buffer the effects of Reactive Oxygen Species* and support sperm parameters
Research shows sperm damage is multifactorial, but a major contributing factor is oxidative stress caused by exposure to pollution, pesticides, smoking, excessive exercise, heavy metals and some medications. Men who supplement with antioxidants such as zinc, selenium, vitamin C, E improve sperm parameters such as motility and morphology.
Antioxidants can be found in colourful fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. Try including ½ cup of colourful fruits each day, 5 – 6 servings of vegetables and up to ¼ cup of raw nuts or seeds. This can be an afternoon snack or blended into a morning smoothie. Pumpkin seeds, almonds and brazil nuts are fabulous fertility foods.
*ROS, defined as including oxygen ions, free radicals and peroxides are generated by sperm and seminal leukocytes within semen and produce infertility by two key mechanisms. First, they damage the sperm membrane, decreasing sperm motility and its ability to fuse with the oocyte.
Sarah Wight is a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist at Ocean Rock Wellness specializing in preconception, fertility and gut health. She has a holistic approach, looking at environment and lifestyle as well as nutrition. With a background in sustainability, Sarah brings a deep appreciation for cooking and seasonal eating as a way to connect our health with the environment. Sarah dives at the opportunity to use local produce and is great at sourcing clean-eating options. She is a recipe contributor for the award-winning Bermudian Magazine and host of a seasonal cooking class series ‘Eating at Our Island Table’ at the local Chef Shop.