How can I boost my fertility? Male Tips

Dr Minna Geisler MB BCh BAO MRCPI MRCOG

Consultant in Reproductive Medicine

Generally speaking, men produce new sperm every 3 months and therefore can father a child at any stage throughout their life. There are reductions in sperm quality with advancing age but men are not at the same risk of age related fertility decline as women.

There are lifestyle and dietary modifications that can be made that may improve the quality of your sperm and therefore may boost your chances of pregnancy. Any improvements in health pre-conceptually will pay off in pregnancy for both your health and the health of your baby.

Lifestyle:

Stop smoking:

o Smoking has been proven to decrease sperm numbers
o Smoking produces free-radicals in the body that can affect the quality of your sperm. Smokers going through IVF have a lower chance of success when compared with non-smokers

Alcohol:

o Look closely at alcohol intake, remember that one small glass of wine or one measure of spirits equals one unit of alcohol and a pint of beer equals two units.
o Stop drinking alcohol or limit to 2-5 units of alcohol per week. Evidence shows that that one additional unit of alcohol per day in the month leading up to IVF treatment reduces the chance of pregnancy.
o There is no known safe limit of alcohol in pregnancy and the recommendation is not to drink any alcohol once you are pregnant

Weight:

o Calculate your BMI- many online calculators are available for this.
o If your BMI is in the overweight or obese category it is important to lose weight as this may improve sperm health.

Exercise:

o Moderate exercise should be maintained and encouraged.
o Over-exercising can impact on sperm quality. Excessive cycling (where the testes may overheat) can result in poor sperm quality.

Keep testes cool:

o Avoid laptops on your lap, phones in your front trouser pocket
o Avoid excessive cycling, tight trousers or underwear

Diet:

Free-radicals in our diet may be detrimental to sperm quality. Therefore boost your intake of anti-oxidant rich foods to combat the effect of free-radicals in our diet and the environment

Increase:

• Fruit and vegetable intake to 5- 10 servings per day. Focus on berries, citrus fruits, avocados, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli
• Oily fish intake (salmon, mackerel, trout) to boost your Omega 3 and Vitamin D levels.
• Nuts, lentils seeds, eggs and beans, as an alternative source of protein to red meat.
• Wholegrains- replace white rice, pasta and bread with the wholegrain varieties to increase your intake of B complex vitamins and zinc.
• Water

Decrease:

• Red meat intake to a max of 2 servings per week. Avoid processed meats.
• Caffeine to a max of two cups of tea or coffee. Avoid caffeinated, sugary drinks e.g. red bull
• Ready-made meals, sugary snacks, cakes, crisps
• Hydrogenated oils (trans-fatty acids) e.g in crisps, fried food, processed foods. Replace with nut oils (sunflower, sesame etc) and olive oils

Supplementation:

There is no robust evidence in the medical literature that supplementation improves fertility but the following supplements may be helpful. The antioxidant effect of some nutrients can help combat free radicals and associated sperm DNA damage.

Folic acid:

Folic acid is an important nutrient for men as well as women. High dose of folic acid can be beneficial for men with lower sperm counts and poor sperm motility.
Vitamin D

As sunlight is our main source of Vitamin D, it is not surprising that most Irish people are low in this important Vitamin. You are advised to take 10µg of Vitamin D per day.

Vitamin A, C and E

These are good antioxidant vitamins. Be careful with daily dosage of Vitamin A and D (also E and K) as they are stored in the body (Vitamin B and C are excreted daily) and can potentially build up to toxic levels. High dose Vitamin C 500mg twice per day is recommended.

B complex Vitamins

Along with folic acid which is a member of the vitamin B family, Vitamins B6 and B12 in particular are important vitamins for health

Micronutrients

Zinc, Selenium and manganese. There is evidence that Zinc supplementation can improve sperm health. Aim for 30mg of zinc per day.

Fish oils (not cod liver oil)

Contain high levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acid. Look for a supplement containing both DHA and EPA.

L-arginine and L-carnitine

These micronutrients may have a beneficial effect on sperm motility and count.

If these tips are still not helping you to conceive, why not book consultation with one of our experts here?

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