By: Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Chavi Morawiec
Most of my baby bearing years (as per medical studies), I thought I was infertile. Like many women, I thought there was something wrong with me. I used to have a highly stressful life- work, home etc. My Doctor kept asking me to reduce stress and eat healthily. It was always ME who went to the Doctors, ME who improved my diet, ME who tried to meditate. We never looked at my partner. Unless you go to a fertility clinic, which you’re referred to after 1 year of trying; your partners’ health is not discussed in major detail. There is so much focus on women’s issues that, sometimes, we forget men can have health concerns too. That’s so unfair for men. Stress affects everyone right? It is not gender-biased and hence we need to ensure men, too, are also taking care of their health in every way possible.
To couples out there who are as confused as I was then, I want to say it that Male Infertility is common and, in fact, on the rise. But there is help and information available to you. Today we look at some facts from the nutrition angle.
Overall, one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues, one-third by female reproductive issues, and one-third by both male and female reproductive issues or by unknown factors. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth and found that 7.5% of men visited a fertility clinic at some point in their lives. Of those who sought help, 18.1% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility issue (1). Though hormonal and genetic disorders may play a role in male fertility, improving diet may strengthen male sperm quality.
Nutrition and pregnancy expert Bridget Swinney, MS, RD, LD, author of Eating Expectantly, says, “I think people first think of the physical causes of male fertility rather than something simple like diet. Everyone I speak to on this topic is very surprised that a dad’s diet could really improve or hamper the likelihood of conception.”
WHAT ARE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTERS
Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are interesting chemicals because they can mimic hormones. EDs can change hormone creation (synthesis), transport, binding, and breakdown. And even very small amounts can have an influence on male testosterone levels, thyroid, ADHD leading up to infertility.
The most common endocrine disruptors are:
- PCBs and dioxins. Found in: Pesticides.
- Flame retardants. Found in: Plastics, paint, furniture, electronics, food.
- Dioxins. Found in: Meat.
- Phytoestrogens. Found in: Soy & other foods.
- Pesticides. Found in: Food, water, soil.
- Perfluorinated chemicals.
- BPA (bisphenol A)
PESTICIDES ARE KILLING US
Studies have confirmed that pesticides, xenoestrogens, and heavy metals, negatively impact sperm quality and life cycle. Several studies since 1970s show that exposure to pesticides had detrimental effects on semen quality, affecting both sperm count and sperm motility and morphology. A study done by Chiu YH, Afeiche MC, Gaskins AJ, et al. concluded “there was an inverse relationship between intake of high pesticide produce and semen quality. On average, men in the highest quartile of high pesticide produce consumption had 49% lower total sperm count, 32% fewer morphologically normal sperm and 29% less ejaculate volume. High pesticide produce consumption was also significantly associated with lower total motile count and lower total normal count (3).”
Bridget Swinney, MS, RD, LD, author of Eating Expectantly warns “Men should be particularly cautious in the child-bearing years about handling chemicals and also to be careful of environmental chemicals they come into contact with, like cleaning, body care products, air fresheners, and plastics that come into contact with food.”
MINERALS AND MORE
A study done by Marathwada Agricultural University, Parbhani, India found that after the spraying of pesticides, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium contents were found to be decreased remarkably in plants. When thinking about male fertility, Zinc tops the list of mineral needed. Zinc does not only help fight off invading bacteria and viruses; it has also been shown to play a key role in regulating sperm count and quality. Zinc also enables the male body to produce testosterone.
Another key vitamin that’s crucial for sperm quality is Vitamin C. Oxidative stress is known to reduce fertility along with cause an array of diseases. A study in infertile men showed that taking 1,000-mg vitamin C supplements twice a day for up to two months increased sperm motility by 92% and sperm count by more than 100%. It also reduced the proportion of deformed sperm cells by 55% (2). There are so many more that are needed by the body make healthy sperm.
HOW DO I MAKE A CHANGE?
Connect with a medical Doctor and get the help you need. However, as a Holistic Nutritionist, I would say eat organic as much as you can. By eating organic products, you ensure to provide your body with absorbable nutrients that enable the body to perform optimally. Along with that, work on reducing other toxins exposure, add daily movement, and focus on stress reduction to protect the quality of your sperm health.
Have a question for me? Send it to me at email@example.com. I would love to connect.
Chavi Morawiec is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto. She regularly contributes Alternative Health articles to The Bloom Living Blog and our social media channel – @bloomorganicbazaar. She is on Maternity leave at the moment and will resume taking in new clients in March 2019.
- Anderson JE, Farr SL, Jamieson DJ, Warner L, Macaluso M. Infertility services reported by men in the United States: national survey data. Fertil Steril. 2009;91(6):2466-2470.