Over the last 50 years, men have experienced a drastic fall in sperm counts – up to 50% – leading to increased rates of infertility, defined as the failure to achieve pregnancy after regular unprotected sex for at least a year.
“Primary” infertility means failure to achieve a first pregnancy, and “secondary” infertility means failure to achieve a subsequent pregnancy.
Primary infertility is an extremely common problem, affecting more than 1 in 7 (15%) of couples trying for their first baby.
Many different factors can influence male fertility, including:
Hormonal imbalance: a deficiency of the male sex hormone testosterone can reduce fertility. Imbalances may occur due to problems with making testosterone in the testicle, or with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus in the brain, which control testosterone production.
Overproduction of prolactin (hyperprolactinaemia), a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, may also reduce fertility.
Imbalances in male hormones can be picked up with a Testosterone-specific test, or a Complete Male Hormone Panel. Once detected, Smart Nutrition can devise you a personalised plan to optimise testosterone levels and fertility.
Nutritional deficiencies: deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals can compromise fertility. Zinc, for example, is a very important mineral in relation to both male and female fertility: it’s necessary for sperm production and plays a part in sperm count, motility and morphology.
A NutrEval Test gives a comprehensive overview of your current nutrient status and can be used to target key problem areas that may be hampering your efforts to conceive.
Environmental factors: pesticide and organochloride exposure, exposure, non ionising radiation, xenooestrogens and heavy metals can all impact sperm count, motility, morphology and overall fertility. Eradicating any sources from your diet and removing heavy metals from the body if necessary can all help to improve your chances of conception.
A Hair Mineral Test is a great way of assessing levels of toxic metals such as lead, mercury, aluminium and cadmium – all known to affect fertility. It also assesses your levels of beneficial nutrients including zinc (the fertility mineral) and selenium (important for protecting the DNA of sperm).
Unhealthy body weight: we all know the importance of maintaining a healthy weight for our body size and shape, and this plays a significant role in fertility.
The body needs to be the right weight in order to produce the appropriate amount of hormones to regulate sperm production. If we are overweight or underweight, our body can start to experience problems with these natural fertility cycles, impacting fertility.
Gaining or losing weight at a sensible rate with the help of Smart Nutrition can help to correct these problems. Please use the button at the bottom of the page to find out more.
Oxidative damage: oxidative damage is caused by free radicals, highly reactive molecules species which can cause damage to sperm, reducing its quality and therefore fertility.
Free radicals are made in the body and are produced by our environment – they’re present in pollution, alcohol and cigarette smoke. Normally the body has very good mechanisms for mopping them up before they do us any damage, but constant exposure to high levels can overwhelm the body’s defence mechanism.
If you’re concerned about your exposure to free radicals, an Oxidative Stress Test assesses the oxidative stress your body is under.
Alcohol, smoking, caffeine and marijuana: smoking, caffeine, alcohol and marijuana can all decrease sperm count, make sperm more sluggish and increase the number of abnormal sperm. The more you smoke, drink and consume caffeine, the less likely you are to conceive.
Smart Nutrition can support you with the process of giving these substances up, using diet and supplements to support your body and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Medical conditions: undescended testes, infection, some medications, varicoceles, obstructions and STDs can all impact fertility.
It’s worth getting checked out by your GP or specialist if you suspect any of these might be affecting your ability to conceive.