Trying to conceive a baby? Congratulations! This is a very exciting time for you and your partner. As a Fertility Coach, I am here to guide you through the process of optimizing your fertility, to fulfil your dream to become Parents.
Whether you’re just starting your TTC journey or have been trying for years, you probably assume that any delay in conceiving is caused by female factors. As a Fertility Coach, I estimate that 50% of infertility cases (1 in 8 couples in the USA) are male related. This is why, from the first visit, I always involve men in my practice… as well as women, of course.
There are many different factors that contribute to male fertility and sperm quality.
Before we dive into my top tips, I want to clarify that I strongly believe every individual and every couple is unique, with very specific conditions, needs and circumstances.
This is why I specialize in highly personalized fertility programs, as there’s no “one size fits all”. Having said that, all my programs and recommendations have some common denominators, which will give you a good place to start.
My top Tips To Optimize Male Fertility
1. Eat well…
Boost your vitamin, antioxidant and mineral levels through diet and supplements. The single most important thing you can do to enhance sperm quality is to improve the nutritional density and quality of your food. Scientific research shows that men with a diet higher in antioxidants tend to have improved semen parameters -such as sperm count and motility- and are more likely to produce sperm with the correct number of chromosomes. The name of the game is a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and bright colors, since they are typically higher in antioxidants.
Ensure you have lots of green leafy vegetables in your diet (kale, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, bok choi…), other non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, cucumber, eggplant, onions…) and red fruits (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…). Taking a daily antioxidant supplement containing a combination of vitamins and antioxidants will also help you improve sperm quality. Make sure your supplement includes vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B12, zinc, folate and selenium. Additionally, you might want to consider adding a supplement of CoQ10 – a vital antioxidant molecule found in every cell in the body – in the form of ubiquinol (the usual recommended dose is 200mg per day). Research shows that CoQ10 is linked to higher sperm count and better motility, as it is a key component of energy production.
Eat clean: you are what you eat. In order to boost your sperm quality, you want to maximize the quality of your food; up nutrients and lower health disruptors.
I highly recommend all my clients, male and female, to minimize processed and refined foods and steer clear on anything high in trans fats, anything fried or anything high in sugar. If possible, always pick the cleanest food you can find: organic, grass-fed, free-range, GMO-free, additive-free, preservative-free, no added hormones. Stick to simple ingredients and avoid anything you can’t pronounce.
Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol intake is known to increase oxidative stress throughout the body. Some studies have reported a link between even moderate alcohol consumption by men and reduced fertility: reducing sperm count, sperm motility and fertilization rate. I won’t stop you from having the occasional glass of wine but if you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, you might want to skip it.
Stay hydrated. About 60% of your body is made up of water. For men, dehydration can lead to decreased sperm quality and less semen volume. Drink at least 3 litres (100oz) of fluids during the day to hydrate your body, promote toxin flush and a healthy semen volume. My favourite options are water (filtered, if possible), herbal tea and occasional freshly squeezed (or cold-pressed) juices.
2. Limit your exposure to toxins…
Limit your exposure to environmental toxins. 80% of infertile men suffer from oxidative stress. Environmental toxins often cause increased oxidation by compromising the activity of antioxidant enzymes, along with other negative effects on sperm quality. The worst offenders for sperm quality are phthalates and BPA, since they are endocrine disruptors. Phthalates are a group of chemicals called “plasticizers”: they are used in personal care products, laundry detergent, soft plastic and many other products. Higher phthalate levels have been linked to lower levels of testosterone and other hormones involved in male fertility. In order to decrease your exposure to these chemicals, choose personal care products (shampoo, shaving cream, deodorant) labeled as “phthalate-free”, avoid fragrance (in cologne or detergent), minimize the use of vinyl/PVC in your home and eat less processed food packaged in plastic. BPA (Bisphenol A) is the other male fertility’s big enemy, since it’s a hormone disruptor known to mimic the effects of estrogen.
In studies, higher urinary BPA levels have been linked to lower sperm count, poor sperm quality and DNA breakage in sperm. BPA is commonly found on the coating of paper receipts, reusable plastic food storage containers and canned food. Luckily, you can easily reduce your exposure to BPA by using class or stainless steel food containers, selecting canned food labeled “BPA-free” and handling paper receipts as little as possible (and washing your hands right after). Even though phthalates and BPA are very clearly linked to poor sperm quality, I also advice my clients to minimize exposure to chemicals known to have general toxic effects, such as insect sprays, pesticides, formaldehyde and garden weed killer.
Last but not least, please use a water filter to reduce the amount of lead and other heavy metals in your water.
Keep your distance from cell phones. Research has shown that the use of cell phones decreases sperm count, motility, viability and morphology. The radiofrequency electromagnetic waves emitted by cell phones are thought to damage sperm through heat and oxidative stress, and are aggravated by physical proximity. Therefore, when possible, keep your cell phone out of your pocket.
3. Manage your stress levels….
Practice deep breathing. We all know that high stress levels compromise all body functions. This is no different for sperm quality. Stress can trigger oxidative stress (physiological stress on the body caused by damage from unneutralized free radicals), which reduces semen quality. Research links high levels of stress with lower percentage of sperm motility and a lower percentage of normal morphology sperm.
Deep breathing is an easy, great way to manage stress levels. At least twice a day, set aside 5 minutes to breathe deeply. Inhale as deep as you can (blowing up your belly like a balloon), pause when you’re full with air, exhale slowly (deflating your belly). Take at least 20 deep breaths in a row.
4. Keep your energy flowing…
Practice physical exercise, in moderation. Research shows that moderate exercise can boost sperm count and enhance sex drive. I always tell my clients to do what they like best. As a yoga teacher and enthusiast, I always recommend yoga as your fertility ally: it allows you to reduce stress, disconnect, calm your mind and promote better energy flow.
5. Be mindful of your temperature….
Stay cool. Research has shown that elevated temperatures compromise sperm quality. Avoid sitting all day, taking hot baths or showers and wearing tight-fitting underwear.
6. Sleep well…
Aim for at 7 to 8 hours or uninterrupted sleep per night. Your body needs enough uninterrupted sleep time to restore and optimize body functions, including your reproductive system. The majority of daily testosterone release happens at night, which is why sleeping too little or too much can affect male fertility.
According to research, the “sweet spot” appears to be 7 to 8 hours per night. Switch off wifi and other electromagnetic waves, wear comfortable and lose clothes, keep a cool temperature, get cozy and enjoy your beauty sleep.
Your health and your future baby will thank you!
Last but not least, stay positive. I know how much of a rollercoaster the TTC journey can be, so please be patient and trust that everything will turn out just fine.
If you need help, come find me at @soniaribascoach and soniaribas.com and, together, we’ll
create a powerful program to conceive and meet your baby very soon.