Male Fertility may be improved by dietary supplements
All too often it is the women who is expected to make all the dietary and lifestyle changes when planning a pregnancy but with a worldwide decrease in fertility rates the evidence would suggest that the man also need to make these changes, not only to help improve fertility but even more important the correct development of the child. As Infertility is a problem of global proportions, affecting on an average 8-12% of couples worldwide and low sperm count (Oligozoospermia) is one of the main causes of male infertility
It is well known that in order to prevent miscarriages and birth defects mothers need to get adequate amounts of folate in their diet. And animal research has found that folate intake is also important for fathers as well. Although in Australia folic acid is added to a many foods, high fat diets and fast foods may interfere with folate metabolism that may result in inadequate boll folate levels(1).
The authors of the study found that along with the developmental map, the sperm also carries a memory of the father's environment and possibly even of his diet and lifestyle choices.
Other studies have found that lifestyle and income can have an effect on DNA mutations. One study found that when examining DNA mutations in the children they were more frequent in the group with low income fathers than in the group of high income fathers(2)
It would appear that the fathers diet is related to sperm quality and mobility and in particular dietary antioxidants play an important role. Dietary carotenoids b-carotene, lutein and Lycopene may have a positive impact on semen quality and, in the case of lycopene, better sperm morphology(3)
Another study examined the nutritional supplements with antioxidant activity (L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, fructose, citric acid, selenium, coenzyme Q10, zinc, ascorbic acid, cyanocobalamin, folic acid) in primary infertile patients with idiopathic astenoteratozoospermia. The authors of this study concluded that the complex of these nutrient given as a supplement can improve the most important parameters of sperm quality(4).
Further research into the positive effects of antioxidants on male fertility was a meta-analysis of 34 controlled trials(5) involving couples undergoing assisted reproductive methods including in vitro fertilisation and sperm injections. Again it was found that most of the men in the studies had low sperm counts or low sperm motility.
Those men taking a range of oral antioxidants including vitamin E, L-carnitine, zinc and magnesium had a statistically significant increase in live birth rate when compared with the men taking the control and a statistically significant increased pregnancy rate compared to controls(5).
The herb Tribulus terrestris may also help improve low sperm count (Oligozoospermia) which is one of the main causes of male infertility. Tribulus has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of male sexual and fertility disorders, and in a resent double bind placebo controlled trial Tribulus terrestris was found superior to placebo in improving sperm count(6)(7)
The data are supportive of the need for a male reproductive supplement in conjunction with lifestyle changes to help improve sexual health and fertility.
1. R. Lambrot, C. Xu, S. Saint-Phar, G. Chountalos, T. Cohen, M. Paquet, M. Suderman, M. Hallett, S. Kimmins. Low paternal dietary folate alters the mouse sperm epigenome and is associated with negative pregnancy outcomes. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3889
2. J. O. Linschooten, N. Verhofstad, K. Gutzkow, A.-K. Olsen, C. Yauk, Y. Oligschlager, G. Brunborg, F. J. van Schooten, R. W. L. Godschalk. Paternal lifestyle as a potential source of germline mutations transmitted to offspring. The FASEB Journal, 2013
3. Zareba P, Colaci DS et al. Semen quality in relation to antioxidant intake in a healthy male population Fertil Steril. 2013 Dec;100(6):1572-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.08.032. Epub 2013 Oct 2.
4. Busetto GM, Koverech A et al. Prospective open-label study on the efficacy and tolerability of a combination of nutritional supplements in primary infertile patients with idiopathic astenoteratozoospermia. rch Ital Urol Androl. 2012 Sep;84(3):137-40
5. Antioxidants for male subfertility , Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jan 19;(1):CD007411. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007411.pub2.
6. Thirunavukkarasu M Sellandi et al. Clinical study of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in Oligozoospermia: A double blind study AYU (An international quarterly journal of research in Ayurveda), Year 2012, Volume 33, Issue 3 [p. 356-364]
7. Singh S, Nair V, Gupta YK. Evaluation of the aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus terrestris Linn. in sexually sluggish male albino rats J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Jan;3(1):43-7. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.92512.
The information given by Naturopath Russell Setright in this article is for general educational purposes only and not for the treatment of any disease or condition. Always see your Healthcare Practitioner for any suspected disease accident or condition and follow there expert advice.