Men’s health and fertility

Are you one of those men that always skip doctor’s appointments? There is a common misbelief among men that they are healthier than women, stronger and always fertile! Well, that’s not scientifically correct, and we have numbers to showcase it. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, male factor infertility issues account for 40% of all infertility problems. So, male infertility is common, it can be curable and it is not something you should feel ashamed of.

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month and the week before Father’s Day (13-19/9) is National Men’s Health Week. The goal of these campaigns is to remind men to stay healthy, because men’s health and fertility may be linked in several ways. 

Have you taken your vitamins today?

D-aspartic acid (D-AA) is a form of aspartic acid, a type of amino acid that’s sold as a dietary supplement. It is mainly present in certain glands, such as the testicles, as well as in semen and sperm cells. Researchers believe that D-AA is implicated in male fertility where its levels are significantly lower in infertile men than fertile. A study in infertile men suggested that taking 2.7 grams of D-AA for 3 months increased their testosterone levels by 30–60% and sperm count and motility by 60–100%. Another study showed that taking 3 grams of D-AA supplements daily for 2 weeks increased testosterone levels by 42% However, the evidence is not 100% conclusive. Studies in athletes or strength-trained men with normal to high testosterone levels found that D-AA didn’t increase its levels further and even reduced them at high doses. 

You’re probably familiar with vitamin C’s multiple benefits. What you probably didn’t know is that antioxidant supplements can in some cases improve fertility too. Oxidative stress is when levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) reach harmful levels in the body. It happens when the body’s own antioxidant defenses are overwhelmed because of disease, old age, an unhealthy lifestyle, or environmental pollutants ROS are constantly being produced in the body, but their levels are kept in check in healthy people. High levels of ROS may promote tissue injury and inflammation, increasing the risk of chronic disease There’s also some evidence that oxidative stress and excessively high levels of ROS may lead to infertility in men. Vitamin C supplements are shown to improve semen quality too. A study in infertile men showed that taking 1,000-mg of vitamin C twice a day for up to 2 months increased sperm motility by 92% and sperm count by more than 100%. It also reduced the proportion of deformed sperm cells by 55%. Again here, the personalized medical advice for each individual case is essential in order to get the correct results. 

Another nutrient that may improve testosterone levels is vitamin D. A controlled study in 65 men with low testosterone levels and vitamin D deficiency supported this finding. Taking 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 every day for 1 year increased their testosterone levels by around 25% High vitamin D levels are linked to greater sperm motility, but the evidence is again inconsistent. 

Let’s get physical!

Men already care for their muscles, right? Regular exercise, besides the fact that it enhances the overall health, can improve fertility, testosterone levels, and semen quality. However too much exercise may have the opposite effect and lead to reduction of testosterone levels so balance is the key here. 

Chilling vibes

It is rather obvious that when a couple is trying to conceive, sex must be often -especially during woman’s ovulation-. This period, especially if you have already tried for a while, is accompanied by a lot of stress, which may cause dysfunctions, reduction in sexual satisfaction, and fertility issues. Researchers believe that cortisol may partly explain these adverse effects of stress. Prolonged stress raises levels of cortisol, which has strong negative effects on testosterone. When cortisol goes up, testosterone levels tend to go down. If the amount of stress is excessive there is suitable medication to help, but if we are talking about mild situations you can always treat it naturally. Take deep breaths, go for a walk, meditate, or whatever calms your nerves. 

Quit smoking and drinking

Yes you have been raised with the belief that strong men drink and smoke, but that’s not the case of healthy men. Smoking and drinking excessively are found to reduce fertility, and especially smoking around a newborn baby has been found to increase their chances of respiratory disease and cot death (sudden infant death syndrome).

Eat your veggies

Eating healthy and maintaining a steady weight is essential to keep your sperm in good condition. The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy diet you should:

  • eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
  • base meals on higher fiber starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
  • include some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks and yogurts)
  • eat beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein

Being overweight (having a body mass index above 25) may affect the quality and quantity of your sperm. Men who are overweight may have higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of testosterone than men at a healthy weight. This can cause low libido and decrease sperm count. 

Cool it off

Did you know that testicles are outside your body in order to have a cooler temperature to produce the best quality sperm? If you’re trying to conceive, taking a few simple measures to keep your testicles cool may help. For example, if your job involves working in a hot environment, take regular breaks outside. If you sit still for long periods, get up and move around regularly. Wearing tight underwear is also believed to increase testicle temperature by up to 1C. Although research has shown that tight underwear does not seem to affect sperm quality, you may want to wear loose-fitting underwear.

Seek professional help

There is a great possibility that no matter how careful you try to lead a healthy life, infertility will knock your door. There is no room for panicking though, because science nowadays does wonders. There are fertility treatments that can help a couple conceive -and specifically treatments for male infertility-, and why not perform one while visiting one of the top summer destinations worldwide? We are talking about Greece of course, where except for the numerous islands it can offer top-notch fertility clinics, low prices, good legislation and no waiting lists!

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