Want to make a baby, but can’t? You’re not alone. Infertility affects 10-15%
of couples in the United States, and that percentage is steadily rising. When the cause of infertility lies with the male partner (about 30% of cases), it is usually due to poor sperm health
. But there’s good news: sperm health can be drastically improved with simple diet and lifestyle changes.
Sperm count and motility are affected by heat, toxins
, hormones, stress, sleep and weight; even cellphone
use and TV watching
have been implicated as factors in declining sperm health.
Toxins are one of the toughest categories of sperm-blockers to avoid, because they're hidden everywhere, from pesticides and heavy metals in your food to plastics and prescription drugs. Eliminating them all may not be possible or realistic, so just control whatever you can. Eat organic to avoid pesticides, and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, which contain antioxidants that help fight free radical damage. Aim to consume low-mercury seafood like crab, oysters, and salmon. Don’t forget that avoiding toxins also means cutting out those that we willingly choose to consume, such as alcohol, tobacco, and over-the-counter or recreational drugs.
Testosterone, the hormone that drives sperm production and health, can be compromised by too much estrogen in the system. Hormones in meat and dairy foods, drinking water, plastics and even the phytoestrogenic effects of soy foods
may contribute to an excess of estrogen in men. Eating organic or hormone-free animal products, filtering your tap water, and using glass containers for water and leftovers may help men avoid the hormone imbalance that can lead to sperm degeneration.
In addition to following the above guidelines, men may be able to improve sperm health in the following ways:
- Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to combat stress.
- Sleep at least eight hours a night in complete darkness.
- Limit cell phone use and carry your cell phone away from your body.
- Avoid excessive heat in the pelvic region (hot tubs, tight underwear or tight pants).
The importance of nutrition in fertility preparation program is also paramount. Foods containing Vitamins A, C, and E, selenium and zinc can be of great benefit to naturally boost sperm quality. Giving the body a 6-12 month period to detoxify and restock vital nutrients through a whole food diet is crucial to sperm health, and will help increase the odds of conception.
Men don’t have to overhaul their lives in order to improve their fertility; small changes can make a big difference over time. By taking these baby steps towards better sperm health, men may soon witness baby steps of another kind.
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