By Breea Johnson, MS RD LDN
Nutritionist, Pulling Down The Moon

As a nutritionist, I mostly consult with women who are undergoing fertility treatments or trying to conceive naturally. Quite often, one of my clients will ask “My husband has been told he has poor sperm quality, what should he eat and what vitamins or minerals should he take?” They know it’s important for their husbands to also jump on the nutrition bandwagon (and they could often use the moral support) – but just like fertility nutrition for women, fertility nutrition for men can be quite a confusing topic. Just searching “sperm quality” on Google leads to over 6 million websites with information ranging from specific vitamins and herbs to take to enhance sperm quality to “shocking” news articles about how increasing fruit and vegetable intake can improve sperm quality. It can be so overwhelming (and sometimes ridiculous) that many men just tell their wives, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” Thus, their frustrated wives turn to me.

Like female infertility, male infertility is also on the rise, worldwide. Similar factors of trying to conceive at older ages, being under high stress, smoking, obesity, poor nutrition, chemical toxicities and genetic predisposition are also being correlated with poor sperm quality. Even further – sperm quality is affected by oxidative stress (from low antioxidant intake), inflammation (from high sugar, high processed fat diet), and some specific nutritional deficiencies. And there’s even some research now linking poor sperm quality to increased miscarriage and poor IVF outcome rates.

The topic of sperm quality often gets lumped together; it’s rare where I see a case where the overall sperm quality is poor. It’s more common to see “poor morphology” or “low concentration” or “low motility” or a combination of two. So, even if a man is advised to take some supplements to help sperm quality, are they the right supplements to help with their specific sperm quality issue? And are they prescribed at a therapeutic dosage so that it will have an impact on sperm quality? Utilizing nutrition to improve sperm quality can do wonders – but utilizing the “most effective” nutrition is absolutely essential.

So, what’s a guy to do? Start by improving diet with a focus on minimally processed whole foods – the ones loaded with nutrients. Reduce exposure to chemicals and pesticides – learn the Dirty Dozen and avoid household chemicals. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake. Take a high-quality Multivitamin to cover baseline nutrition. Don’t start training for a marathon or the Tour de France – make sure you aren’t overtraining and incurring increased oxidative stress. Learn how to reduce and balance stress – try weekly massages or walks with your wife. You can also meet with a nutritionist that specializes in fertility to learn about specific nutrients and recommended dosages to help with sperm quality focusing on low concentration, morphology, and motility.

Undergoing fertility treatments can be frustrating and trying – for both people involved. While a woman undergoing fertility treatments due to her partner’s poor sperm quality may have some resentment, most men often feel helpless in the outcome. Since up to 50% of infertility is related to male infertility, it’s important for the guys to play their part and take charge of their nutrition, not only to support their partners in this journey but to also have a beneficial impact on a successful pregnancy.

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