Planning a baby: Improving Male Fertility

Did you know that 40% to 50% of infertility cases are attributable to male infertility?

It takes two to make a baby. Whilst it’s crucial to focus on boosting female fertility, it’s also equally important to see how nutrition can support male fertility. Surprisingly, approximately 40-50% of infertility cases are attributable to male infertility [1].

Fertility in men is influenced by a variety of factors, including lifestyle and dietary habits. Boosting nutrition can significantly encourage healthy male fertility. In particular, nutrients such as selenium, zinc, arginine, carnitine and vitamin D should be incorporated into your diet to promote fertility.

Let's look at the key nutrients

Selenium: A key mineral involved in sperm production, selenium is required to promote sperm count, quality and motility. In a study using 200ug of selenium for 100 days in infertile men, selenium significantly improved sperm quality and pregnancy rates [2].

Zinc: The most important trace mineral in male reproduction, zinc is important for sperm formation, motility, and hormone production. Zinc deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels and low sperm count.

L-Arginine: An amino-acid building block, arginine is required for sperm formation and motility. In studies that administered l-arginine to men with asthenospermia, sperm motility and sexual health were significantly improved [3].

L-Carnitine: Providing energy for sperm motility, L-carnitine can be very supportive in fertility and helping the sperm reach the egg. Studies that supplemented with L-carnitine significantly improved pregnancy rates compared to placebo [4].

Vitamin D: Vitamin D, labelled the sunshine vitamin, is critical for a variety of functions in the body. As this vitamin is synthesized by skin exposure to sunlight, many UK individuals are deficient due to lack of sunshine. Deficiency in vitamin D can affect sperm motility, according to research [5]. Public Health England recommends all adults and children to take 400IU of Vitamin D per day, particularly during winter months.

Try a Multivitamin

Choosing a multivitamin formulation specifically designed for fertility and can support your diet with the key nutrients necessary for this life stage. Make sure to look for a supplement that is free from additives, excipients and preservatives, and contains adequate levels of the nutrients required.

Lifestyle Tips

Changing your day-to-day habits can increase male fertility. Here are a few suggestions.

- Limit alcohol, smoking and caffeine: These can all have negative impacts on sperm quality and count.

- Get active: Maintaining moderate activity is recommended to regulate bodyweight and improve reproductive function.

- Eat right: Eating a balance of healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates is vital to ensure you are hitting the right nutrient targets for optimal fertility.

- Manage stress: Reducing cortisol levels may promote fertility and overall health.

Author: Salma Dawood holds a BSc honours degree in Human Nutrition.




References:


1) Kumar, N., & Singh, A. K. (2015). Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. Journal of human reproductive sciences, 8(4), 191–6.
2) Moslemi, M. K., & Tavanbakhsh, S. (2011). Selenium–vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. International Journal of General Medicine, 4, 99–104. http://doi.org/10.2147/IJGM.S1...
3) Morgante G, Scolaro V, Tosti C, Di Sabatino A, Piomboni P, De Leo V. Treatment with carnitine, acetyl carnitine, L-arginine and ginseng improves sperm motility and sexual health in men with asthenopermia]. Minerva Urol Nefrol. 2010 Sep;62(3):213-8. Italian.
4) Zhou X, Liu F, Zhai S. Effect of L-carnitine and/or L-acetyl-carnitine in nutrition treatment for male infertility: a systematic review. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16 Suppl 1:383-90. Review
5) Abbasihormozi S, Kouhkan A, Alizadeh AR, Shahverdi AH, Nasr-Esfahani MH, Sadighi Gilani MA, Salman Yazdi R, Matinibehzad A,


The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.