With research showing that up to 60% of infertility may come down to the man in the equation, Patrick provides a man’s guide to making super sperm. We look into why preparing for conception is just as key for men as it is for women, as well as what you can do to ensure your sperm is on form.
The modern man
Sperm can take up to four months to develop, so with the decline in semen quality in the past few decades, it is important to understand the reasons why the modern man is worse off than his counterparts 50 years ago:
Overuse of stimulants
According to the World Health Organisation, every person over the age of 15 will drink, on average, 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year. Alcohol is toxic to the male reproductive tract and a lifestyle of heavy drinking and smoking depletes the body of key nutrients, especially B vitamins, that are vital to reproductive health. Coffee is also bad news: the higher the coffee consumption, the lower the sperm quality.
Exposure to chemicals
The modern man is exposed to environmental chemicals on a daily basis in paint, plastics, food packaging, pesticides and cosmetics. This is significant because these chemicals are not only associated with declining sperm count and quality, but in some cases, have even been related to testicular cancer. Where total avoidance to these chemicals is not possible, minimising exposure to them can help.
Lack of Zinc
Zinc is a key nutrient in sperm development and conception. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the sex glands of the male and in the sperm itself. Around 1,4mg of Zinc is lost with each ejaculation; it is thus key to ensure, as a man, that you keep your Zinc levels up. Zinc deficiency can result in late sexual maturation, small sex organs, infertility and even damage to the testes. Zinc works best with B6 so boosting levels of both these nutrients can increase male fertility.
Maximise your fertility
Patrick recommends the starting point for boosting male fertility is to avoid coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and exposure to any suspect drugs or industrial chemicals for at least four months before you want to conceive. Nutrition also plays a huge role in conception, so be sure to eat regular sources of the following key fertility nutrients.
- Zinc – found in oysters, lamb, nuts, egg yolks, rye and oats.
- Chromium – rich in wholemeal or rye bread, potatoes, green peppers, eggs and chicken.
- Vitamin B6 – found in cauliflower, watercress, bananas and broccoli.
- Essential fats. Seeds are a great source of these as they also contain Omega 6 and Vitamin E, which are proven to increase fertility.
- Vitamin C – protects the sperm from damage and improves sperm mobility. This is found in carrots, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, oranges, strawberries, lemons, blueberries and kiwis.
- Vitamin A – essential for making the male sex hormones, so be sure to eat more animal and vegetable foods such as liver, cod liver oil as well as carrots, sweet potatoes and apricots. However, this nutrient is also dependent on Zinc to be properly utilised by our bodies.
In addition, Patrick suggests boosting your intake of antioxidant nutrients by aiming to eat at least five portions of different coloured fruits and vegetables, plus nuts and seeds daily as well as supplementing your diet with a daily multivitamin and mineral formula. PATRICK HOLFORD ADVANCED OPTIMUM NUTRITION® provides a combination of various vitamins and minerals to supplement your daily diet.