Improving Sperm Quality
It takes 100 days for sperm to develop (74 to form and 20-30 to mature), therefore addressing sperm health concerns 100 days before conception is important.
Three main factors make up ‘good sperm’:
– Sperm count (more than 20 million per millilitre of ejaculate)
– Morphology (shape of the sperm)
– Motility (how fast and straight the sperm swim)
Things to start today
– eat healthy, take a multivitamin/multimineral.
– talk to a natural healthcare provider and do a liver detox.
– learn coping techniques for stress and incorporate them into your every day (meditation, stretching, reading, breathing, qigong, taiji).
– get weekly acupuncture treatments to promote general health, reduce stress, and ensure smooth energy & blood flow throughout the body.
– stay active, take the stairs, walk or cycle to work, go swimming, hit the gym (not too hard).
– make a commitment to engaging in and enjoying regular sex with your partner.
– stop smoking, cut down on alcohol, avoid drug intake (of all types), and keep it to 1 or 2 cups of coffee in the morning only.
– drink more water, semen is made mostly of water (your whole body is 70% water).
Things to Avoid
High Temperatures The body is 37 degrees celcius. Sperm functions best at 32 degrees celcius.
Long distance driving or sitting, hot baths, saunas, hot tubs, tight fitting underwear, and athletic support straps, all can raise the temperature of the scrotum, thus ‘cooking’ the sperm.
Blood gets routed by all means to vital organs for survival such as the lungs, heart, and brain in times of stress. Obviously the testes are malnourished when the body is under constant stress.
Take a breath, if you stop now, most damage done by drinking will be repaired naturally.
Alcohol interferes with the secretion of testosterone, speeds up the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, lowers sperm count and sex drive.
The breakdown product of alcohol in the body is acetaldehyde, which is toxic to sperm.
Smoking and Male Fertility
Smoking increases the number of free radicals in the body which do damage to many cells. It reduces sperm count and motility, and increases the number of abnormally shaped sperm.
Free radicals that are said to be responsible for 40 percent of sperm damage can be battled with antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, blackberries, blueberries, garlic, kale, strawberries, brussels sprouts, plums, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, red peppers, grapeseed extract, and pine bark extract.
Aside from the many prescription drugs that effect fertility, the chemical ingredient in Marijuana is very closely related to testosterone, therefore the body will produce less of the male hormone. It builds up in the testes lowering libido, causing impotence, and sometimes sexual anxiety. The effects of cocaine are similar in some aspects.
May impair sperm production, cause chromosomal abnormalities, and effect sperm motility.
Hernia surgery, tubule infection, chlamydia, or mumps may effect sperm count. Diabetes can also have detrimental effects on male fertility.
Yes, it is good for you, although, excessive amounts that punish the body may lower sperm count and temporarily reduce testosterone production.
Toxins and Pollutants
Pesticides and heavy metals are terrible for sperm. Since the start of the use of pesticides since World War II, male sperm counts have plummited. Note: pesticides are designed to disrupt the reproductive cycle of the insect, fungus, or weed it is trying to kill! I think there may be a corelation here. Eat Organic! Also watch exposure to X-rays, solvents, paint products, and toxic metals.
The meat we eat is filled with hormones, unless it is organic. Estrogens are now found in our drinking water. Plastics also give off estrogens. Do not microwave plastic, and try to drink from glass containers. If you are drinking water from a plastic bottle, try to limit its exposure to the sun.
Sperm Diet & Nutrition
Free radicals (which float around the body and damage other cells) are said to be responsible for 40 percent of sperm damage can be battled with antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, blackberries, blueberries, garlic, kale, strawberries, brussels sprouts, plums, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, red peppers, grapeseed extract, and pine bark extract.
Certain nutrients are quite important to the healthy production of sperm. The following are a list of those nutrients, foods sources of them, and the recommended nutritional intake (RNI).
The building blocks of life. Necessary for egg and sperm production. Some healthcare practitioners will prescribe amino acids such as l-arginine to enhance fertility. Do not take arginine if you have the herpes virus, it will cause an outbreak.
Sources: protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, lentils, peas, beans, nuts, brown rice, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and quinoa.
Dosage: 500 mg per day of l-arginine
Essential for the production of male sex hormones. It has antioxidant qualities which protects cells against damage from free radicals in the body. It also is important for the upkeep of the seminiferous tubules.
A deficiency is shown to reduce sperm volume and count, and increase abnormal sperm.
Sources: eggs, yellow fruits and vegetables, whole milk and milk products, dark green leafy veggies, and fish oils.
Dosage: RDA 700 mcg per day. Take with foods that contain fat or oil, as well as with vitamin C, E, and zinc.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Together with zinc, B6 is essential for the formation of male sex hormones. A deficiency causes infertility in animals.
Sources: molasses, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, nuts, brown rice, organ and other meats, egg yolks, fish, poultry, legumes, seeds, and green leafy veggies.
Dosage: RNI 1.4 mg per day, but up to 50 mg may be used per day.
Note: Zinc is needed for its absorption.
Folate and B12 are needed for the synthesis of DNA and RNA. These make up the blueprint for the genetic code of the entire body. Low levels can cause abnormal sperm production, reduced sperm counts, and reduced motility. even if your count is only on the low side, supplement with B12.
Sources: lamb, sardines, salmon, fermented foods that contain bacteria. Calcium aids in its absorption.
Dosage: RNI from 1.5 mcg per day.
Folate (folic acid)
Needed for sperm production, count, motility, and low morphological abnormalities. Vitamin C aids in absorption.
Sources: dark green leafy veggies, broccoli, organ meats, brewer’s yeast, root vegetables, whole grains, oysters, salmon, milk, legumes, asparagus, oatmeal, dried figs, and avacados.
Dosage: RNI 200-400 mcg per day
An antioxidant that prevents damage from free radicals. It is needed for the healthy production of sperm. Low vitamin C levels have been linked with an increse in birth defects. It can increase count and motility of sperm. It is also shown to reduce clumping of sperm.
Sources: citrus fruits, rosehips, cherries, sprouted alfalfa seeds, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet peppers, black currants, mangos, grapes, kiwi fruit, pineapples, asparagus, peas, potatoes, parsely, watercress, and spinach.
Dosage: 500-1000 mg per day.
Rats fed a diet free of vitamin e cannot reproduce. It also is an antioxidant. It may also help the sperm penetrate the egg. Deficiency leads to a degeneration of testicular tissues. Vitamin E has anticoagulant properties, so caution if taking blood thinners.
Sources: cold pressed oils, wheat germ, organ meats, molasses, eggs, sweet potatoes, leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and avacados.
Dosage: >4 mg
Deficiency may cause infertility. It is needed to properly shape sperm and to maintain count. It may have a key role in the functioning of the epididymis. It is an antioxidant which protects the cells in the sperm that have a high fat content.
Sources: tuna, herring, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ and bran, whole grains, and sesame seeds.
Dosage: RNI 75 mcg per day
Manganese competes with iron for absorption. It is advisable to take manganese supplements with protein foods and vitamin C. Deficiency may cause testicular degeneration, congenital malformations, sterility, low sex drive, low sperm count, and an increase in the number of cells that degenerate in the epididymis. Deficiency may also inhibit the synthesis of sex hormones.
Sources: whole grains, green leafy veggies, carrots, broccoli, ginger, legumes, nuts, pineapples, eggs, oats, and rye.
Dosage: RNI 1.4 mg per day
Deficiencies of Zinc are quite common. Zinc is important for the cell division and the production of healthy sperm. It is the most critical trace mineral for male sexual function. It is needed for testosterone metabolism, testicle growth, sperm production, motility, count, reducing excess estrogen in male reproductive tissue. Every time a man ejaculates he loses about 5 mg of zinc. Alcohol depletes zinc in the body. Folic acid, tea, coffee, high fiber intake, and iron may inhibit absorption. Vitamin B6 and C may aid absorption.
Sources: lean meat, fish, seafood, chicken, eggs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, rye, oats, whole grains, legumes, ginger, parsley, mushrooms, brewer’s yeast, and wheat germ.
Dosage: RNI 10-30 mg per day.
Important for energy production. ICSI fertilization rates may rise when taking this supplement. It also improves blood flow. It is present in large amounts in the seminal fluid. It protects them against free radical damage, gives sperm energy (along with fructose), and increases their motility. Dosage: 50-90 mg per day
Essential Fatty Acids
Very important to take when trying to concieve. EFA’s act as hormone regulators. Omega-3 DHA and Omega-6 arachidonic acid are important structural elements of cell membranes, body tissue, and brain development in the fetus. Sperm contain high concentrations of omega-3’s, in particular DHA (found in oily fish). DHA is in the sperm tail (motility).
Sources: Omega-3; flaxseed, oily fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines), walnuts, green leafy veggies, and tuna (not more than 150g/week).
Sources: Omega-6; seeds and their oils.
Dosage: 2000 mg per day.
Note: be careful if you are currently taking blood thinning medication. Also, these should be taken with antioxidants vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and grapeseed extract.
Ginseng (Radix Ginseng, Ren Shen) may improve levels of testosterone.
Tribullus (Tribullus Silvestrus, Bai Ji Li) has been found to support healthy sperm production and is used to treat sexual dysfunction (impotence and libido).
Some herbs that may adversely affect fertility are St. John’s Wort, Saw Palmetto, Licorice, and Echinacea.
Dosage: Talk to a qualified Herbalist.