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The world is experiencing an epidemic of poor sperm health. Latest statistics show average sperm counts have dropped worldwide by a staggering 60% over a period of 40 years 1.
Sperm are obviously crucial for fertility. Although with each ejaculation, millions of sperm are released, only a tiny percentage will complete the arduous journey to reach an egg. So, having plenty of sperm and ones which are fast, strong swimmers will maximise the chances of conception. Some sperm lack enough energy to swim well or have structural abnormalities like wonky tails, meaning they stand little hope of fertilising an egg.
It can be extremely distressing when a couple experiences difficulties in conceiving, but often male fertility can be overlooked. In this blog, you’ll learn how to keep your sperm healthy, plentiful and strong. This way they will have the very best chance of winning gold in the race to an egg.
Testosterone, the major male hormone, is needed for sperm to be produced. Many aspects can impact the amount of testosterone being made. These include ongoing stress, poor sleep (testosterone is produced while you’re asleep), too little exercise, and even pesticides, found on non-organic foods.
Men naturally produce oestrogen, too, although this hormone is more usually connected with women. However, if its levels climb too high, this can lead to low testosterone, because they have a kind of see-saw relationship. Excess oestrogen can be caused by a sluggish bowel or poor liver function, as these interfere with the natural detoxification of the hormone.
Alcohol consumption is also linked with high levels of oestrogen, as is an accumulation of fat around the belly. This encourages extra oestrogen to be produced. Excess weight and especially this stubborn belly fat in turn interferes with your body’s use of insulin. This causes metabolic diseases such as diabetes in the long term, and in the short term decreases testosterone production. Finally, environmental chemicals, particularly substances released into food and liquid from plastics, will boost men’s oestrogen levels.
Men who eat lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates have been found to have lower sperm counts. Meanwhile, certain nutrients are needed to produce healthy sperm. These include zinc, found in shellfish, pumpkin seeds, chicken, beans, and lentils, and vitamin E, from nuts, seeds and avocados. Also important is Vitamin D, realistically only available in any amount from sunshine and supplements.
Meanwhile, hormones work better if you have a good intake of healthy omega 3 fats. This means oily fish like salmon and mackerel along with walnuts, some eggs and seeds including flax and chia seeds.
Finally, co-enzyme Q10, an antioxidant produced in the body, is needed to provide sperm with enough energy to swim to an egg. It’s worth remembering your production of co-enzyme Q10 naturally decreases as you pass your 30’s. So, a supplement may be sensible if you are looking to maximise your fertility.
One of the most exciting discoveries in the field of nutrition and health is around the microbiome. These are the bacteria hitching a ride with you through life inside and on your bodies. Natural health therapists have known for years that these bacteria are incredibly important, affecting wellbeing in numerous ways. But it’s only relatively recently science has caught on. Nowadays, new research is published almost every week containing incredible discoveries about the microbiome and its wide-ranging effects.
One recent study looked at the semen microbiome, as each sperm has a bacterial population all of its own. It was discovered that the more of a specific type of bacteria called Lactobacillus iners contained in the semen microbiome, the less mobile the sperm 2. The researchers wondered whether this imbalance was contributing to localised inflammation in the sperm, causing them to be poor swimmers.
Science doesn’t yet know exactly how these bacteria can impact sperm, but what is known is that within all your body’s microbiomes, balance is key. Ideally, there will be a wide range of bacteria, without one particular species dominating. All your body’s microbiomes influence each other, and the bacteria in your gut microbiome have far-reaching effects on populations of bacteria elsewhere in your body. So, it pays to ensure your gut microbiome is healthy, in turn causing your semen microbiome to be in the best shape.
If you would like to find out more about maximising your sperm health using nutritional, dietary and lifestyle measures, our experienced practitioners are only too willing to guide you. They will take a detailed case history to establish your personal imbalances which may be contributing to poor sperm health and fertility. If appropriate, they’ll suggest functional tests to peek into your body and establish, for example, whether your hormones are out of balance or your microbiome is in poor health.
Do you need personalised natural support to improve your sperm health? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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