by Kevin B. Doyle
If you're thinking of starting a family or have been trying a while, you might be wondering about the health of your partner's sperm.
A comprehensive sperm analysis checks the semen for quality, quantity of sperm and checks how well the sperm move.
If your test results show a problem, your doctor or urologist will suggest additional tests or treatments to help egg meet sperm and get a baby on board.
Once a physical problem has been ruled out, you can take simple steps to increase your chance of making healthy sperm. Managing stress, stopping smoking, watching your weight and getting exercise all are thought to promote to optimal sperm production.
Conception Diet for Guys
Is there a correlation between a nutrition and male fertility? Some experts believe that a healthy diet equals healthy sperm. Others, like Dr. Kaufman, Baylor-All Saints endocrinologist disagree.
"The extremes like malnutrition and obesity can impact fertility but there are no science to back up the theory that what a man eats and what a man drinks impacts his sperm," Kaufman says.
A recent study, led by Professor Jill Attaman of Harvard Medical School, suggests that diet, particularly the amount and type of fats could affect sperm quality.
In a small study, researchers found that men in the highest fat intake group had 43 percent lower total sperm count and 38 percent lower sperm concentration than men in the lowest fat intake group. They also noticed that men eating the most saturated fats had lower sperm count and those eating the most omega-3 fats had slightly more sperm count. Attaman suggests further research to confirm the findings.
Nailing Down Specifics
A healthy conception diet provides omega-fish oils, protein, vitamins and minerals needed for sperm development. What's missing also contributes to healthy sperm. Try to limit saturated fats, refined grains and processed food that might expose you to hormone-mimicking chemicals.
Plan your menus around:
- Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- More seafood and vegetable proteins
- Healthy oils from plant sources (omega-6)
- Healthy fats from cold water fish (omega-3)
- Whole grains, nuts, seed and legumes
Super Foods for Healthy Sperm
While research doesn't clearly tout specific foods as sperm-builders, we've put together this list that won't hurt and might help.
• Salmon is loaded with omega-3s and protein. Healthy fats appear help build healthy swimmers.
• Tomatoes contain the anti-oxidant rich lycopene. It's said to improve prostate health and might reduce risk of prostate cancer.
• Melons, especially watermelons and other fruit are high in potassium and lycopene.
• Yogurt and other dairy products add calcium and potassium to your diet and might lower blood pressure and open up artery flow.
• Berries might be another word for anti-oxidants! These beneficial tidbits help prevent damage from environmental pollutants. They're also high in vitamin C that seems to help improve sperm quality.
• Chili and other dishes made from beans or legumes are mineral powerhouses. They add protein to your diet without saturated fats and help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
• Oatmeal is high in fiber and said to lower cholesterol. When you eat it for breakfast, you might skip the food high in saturated fats which can impact sperm production.
• Sunflower and pumpkin seeds contain selenium, zinc and vitamin E, said to improve count and motility.
Have you heard of specific foods that you should or should not eat while trying to conceive?
- Mayo Clinic. (December 16, 2010) Healthy Sperm: Improving your fertility. Accessed April 4, 2012.
- Attaman, J, et al. (March 13, 2012) "Dietary fat and semen quality among men attending a fertility clinic". Accessed April 5, 2102.