The decision to have a child comes with excitement and anticipation. You and your partner start looking forward to a healthy baby, but before the baby comes conception—and that can be stressful if infertility issues arise.
Infertility is a growing worldwide issue. Recent statistics show that it impacts 50 to 80 million people, and it’s on the rise. Misinformation has led us to believe that infertility only affects women, but the truth is that male factor infertility is thought to be present in 50% of infertile couples—and in 20 to 30% of these cases, infertility is primarily male related.
Part of the equation relates to male sperm. Sperm are ingenious little dudes but they do require a precise environment—exactly four degrees to be exact! This, on top of your body’s nutrient status, can impact sperm’s ability. So what can you do to prepare for conception? Here are a few easy tips to improve sperm quality.
5 Tips to Improve Sperm Quality
Avoid heat stress.
It’s been shown that an increase of 1 degree C above the ideal sperm temperature is correlated to a 14% drop in sperm production. Translation? Heat stress is no joke when it comes to fertility. Be mindful that periods of high heat, such as prolonged car sitting, regular sauna bathing, use of hot tubs, or wearing tight fitting underwear, all can influence sperm quality, and can kill sperm.
Keep your laptop on a table and remove your cell phone out of your back pocket. Not only does removing technology improve social bonding, studies have found that direct WIFI exposure is associated with an increase of DNA damage and can decrease sperm motility, count, and morphology. And, cell phone radiation has been shown to instigate a chain of internal effects that can decrease antioxidant status in the body, which is a key component of healthy sperm.
Cut back on the alcohol & tobacco.
Cut it out now. I know! I can see the eye rolls you’re sending me. We all hate to admit it, but it’s well known that alcohol, tobacco, and various recreational drugs can contribute to negative effects on sperm and male fertility. Alcohol, as good as it can taste, reduces testicular glutathione (“The Hulk” of antioxidants), which results in a rise in reactive oxygen species (the chemicals that cause damage to cellular tissue).
And tobacco? No better. Tobacco is full of chemicals that are carcinogenic in nature, and lead to a higher rate of sperm DNA fragmentation and loss of sperm motility.
Curious about the results of smoking marijuana? They’re not any better than alcohol or tobacco. A study has shown that regular use of marijuana (more than one time per week) can cause pyospermia, a condition that increases white blood cells in the seminal fluid, which can attack and damage sperm.
Increase your antioxidants.
There are a handful of key nutrients that are powerful in helping to offset the oxidative stress that cause cell damage, protein modifications, and DNA damage that ultimately lead to reduced sperm quality. Many of these key nutrients can be found in a healthy, balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and clean proteins. But, in the case where reactive oxygen species (the chemicals that damage cell tissue) outnumber antioxidant status (the substances that prevent and slow cell damage), there are some supplements that you can keep in mind.
- Zinc: Zinc is an essential element for male fertility. Adequate levels of zinc are needed in men’s health, germination, normal sperm function, and fertilization. Although zinc deficiency is not a direct cause of infertility, studies show that zinc deficiency can jeopardize sperm function and fertility.
- Selenium: Selenium is key for sperm development. It influences the production and secretion of testosterone—and low selenium in testis can be an underlying cause of impaired male fertility.
- CoQ10: CoQ10 has shown to be beneficial in improving sperm, specifically sperm motility. This powerful antioxidant plays an active role in fighting off oxidative stress and forming the membranes within the cells. If sperm mobility is an issue, CoQ10 can be especially beneficial.
Looking to conceive? We can help with fertility and preconception—schedule an appointment to learn more.
Dr. Jones graduated from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and with a Master of Science in Nutrition degree. She believes that the most important part of any treatment plan is first establishing a solid foundation of health. This looks different for each patient and changes over time, and Dr. Jones’ guidance on your health journey will depend on your needs.
Dr. Danielle Vogler-Bos is a Naturopathic Doctor, registered and licensed in both Minnesota and Arizona. Her passion is educating and empowering her patients to take back their health, partnering with them to find the root cause of their struggles, and helping them feel better, faster. After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology, Dr. Vogler-Bos earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ.
During her clinical training, Dr. Vogler-Bos completed a rigorous internship gaining experience in the diagnosis and treatment of hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, and adrenal fatigue using both traditional naturopathic medicine and bio-identical hormone therapies.