Want To Support Egg and Sperm Quality?
Infertility usually comes to mind relating to a woman who is unable to bring a child in full-term, or unable to conceive. But infertility isn't always on the woman's side. Men have a significant role as well in terms of the woman not being able to get pregnant OR STAY pregnant. And, it's actually more complex than just the sperm counts and quality. There is evidence that blood sugar, insulin, and homocysteine levels in the male partner can impact pregnancy outcomes!
When couples consult the average doctor regarding fertility, the woman will take on all the diet and lifestyle changes to get pregnant. When couples want to have a child and are struggling with it, they both have a role to play to achieve the kind of fertility (what I call FertileAF) that would enable them to get pregnant and have a healthy baby quickly. Couples must work hand in hand to get there.
So let's get FertileAF from both men and women shifting their lifestyle together.
For the Male partner:
a) Keep it cool. There is a reason why testicles are outside the body. In order to produce the best quality sperm, testicles must be cooler than the rest of you or slightly below body temperature.
b) No smoking. Smoking reduces your fertility. And, smoking is really not a good thing for your overall health. It has been shown to reduce sperm count, motility, and morphology in over 1000 studies!
c) Too much alcohol could affect your fertility. Alcohol can also affect counts, motility, and morphology. However, an occasional drink has not shown to be detrimental.
d) Recreational Drugs. Most recreational drugs can damage your sperm quality and reduce male fertility. These include Cannabis, Cocaine, and anabolic steroids. Avoid these types of drugs if you're trying to have a baby.
e) Medicines. There are some prescription medicines that could potentially affect male fertility. For example, some chemotherapy medications could either temporarily or permanently affect your fertility. Long-term antibiotics have a negative effect but the effect can be reversed 3 months after stopping the medicine. Many more medicines impact the male factors, so make sure to check with your doctor.
f) Maintaining an ideal weight, balanced diet, and regular but not over-exercise is essential for keeping your sperm in good condition. For men, intermittent fasting has been shown to have beneficial effects on weight management and testosterone levels. When it comes to diet, it is important to optimize your diet for your body. There is no one-size-fits-all!
g) Severe stress may limit sperm production and lower your libido. Lowered sex drive, often connected to decreased testosterone will have a sperm count lowering effect.
Now, let's tackle the egg quality and what women can do.
a) Follow the recommended diet. This may sound hard but it's only in the beginning. Diet is a foundation for optimizing fertility. It should help lower inflammation and hence support good egg quality.
b) Get enough high-quality sleep. Sleep is a colossal part of a healthy lifestyle. But did you know that sleep is directly related to egg quality and fertility? While we sleep, our body produces melatonin which helps repair and heals the body. Optimal sleep supports nourishment of the reproductive organs to develop high-quality, healthy eggs.
c) Improve blood flow. Oxygen-rich blood flow is vital for the health of the eggs. Blood flow could be improved by staying hydrated.
d) Fertility Supplements. Choose only the right supplements for you. You don’t need every “fertility supplement” and overloading the body with supplements can do more harm than good. Also… quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to supplements. There are many supplements touted for fertility such as CoQ10, DHEA, Acetyl - L Carnitine, Alpha lipoic acid, green tea, Maca, Vitex, and more! In my decade and a half of experience, I have never met a single woman on the fertility track that needs more than a few of these targeted therapies. It’s ideal to customize a plan, as I have seen many women take supplements they don’t need, only for that to be harming their fertility. For example, DHEA can lower egg quality if taken at the wrong dose or when taken unnecessarily.
e) Stop Smoking. Smoking has zero health benefits and is extremely detrimental to fertility, specifically egg quality. If you smoked in the past, know that it can take a time to recover egg quality-- get some support to optimize faster!
f) Maintain an ideal weight. Maintaining your ideal weight is good for your fertility. Being underweight and being overweight works against conception and pregnancy.
g) De-stress. Stress could produce hormones like follicle-stimulating hormone and cortisol which affect egg quality and egg production. Engaging in meaningful activities like spending time with family and friends (sans alcohol and smoking) could be ideal in boosting your overall health. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and acupuncture have shown positive benefits for relaxation and fertility.
It’s okay to ask for support, instead of trial-error. This will often get you there faster, and it’s definitely not a sign of weakness.
It’s important to assess your partner’s health and get them on board -- it’s having an impact on time to conception, as well as pregnancy outcomes.
There’s lots of free information out there, make sure it applies to you and your journey. Not everything is relevant for everyone.