Emma's Top 5 Tips for Preserving Male Fertility


Male fertility has significantly declined in the past 20 years, and recent research has therefore highlighted the importance of preserving male fertility. Frankly IT'S ABOUT TIME; I have been waxing lyrical about this for many years (see our male fertility programme


). Of course men play a vital role in producing babies! Yet so often it falls to the woman to make all the changes and drive the mother ship.  The problem with most medicine is that unless they have a solution to a problem it tends to ignore it. But there are solutions;  diet and lifestyle play important roles in male health and fertility. There is evidence that specific nutrients support fertility. Good sperm health includes count, morphology (structure) and motility (movement). There also needs to be good levels of semen to transport and provide energy for the sperm. It is generally said that sperm takes 90 days to mature but it is closer to 2 ½ months. Sperm develops in the testicles for 50-60 days and are then excreted into the sperm-maturing tube, the epididymis, to complete their maturation for another 14 days. These healthy habits are also beneficial for the development and future health of the baby as the genetic material in sperm reflects exposure to stress, nutrient deficiencies and environmental toxins. These are my top 5 tips for looking after the sperm in order to protect male fertility.

  1. Avoid Too Much Heat: Research demonstrates that heat impacts on semen quality so it is important to keep the testicles cool. This is why nature has designed them to hang in sacks outside of the body so they keep cool. Using laptops directly on the lap, becoming over heated through excessive exercise, sauna’s, external heat sources such as ovens, hot baths and car seats, all cause problems to sperm quality. Male chefs, for example, have a high incidence of infertility since their testicles are exposed to a constant heat source. Tight underwear and prolonged periods spent cycling may also cause problems with sperm

  2. Avoid Too Much Partying:Drinking too much alcohol, smoking weed and taking cocaine can all impact on male fertility. An observational study of the alcohol intake of 1221 Danish military recruits published in the BMJ suggests that moderate alcohol intake of at least five units every week is linked to poorer sperm quality. Marijuana has a negative impact on sperm production and makes it less mobile (in other words it gives you lazy sperm). Although short-term cocaine use can increase libido, long-term users report a decrease in sexual function, including difficulties in maintaining an erection and ejaculating

  3. Prevent Exposure to Environmental Toxins- Don’t Breath in Toxic Fumes:Studies from the Czech Republic (2000) demonstrated that men living in areas with high air pollution have a larger percentage of abnormal sperm, decreased motility and DNA fragmentation. In other words their sperm was damaged even at the level of the DNA. Other studies in this area confirmed these findings. One study showed that DNA seemed to be a major issue and was often damaged even when other aspects of the sperm looked ok. Since most clinics or GPs do not measure DNA damage it is important for men living in highly polluted areas to consider that even a normal semen sample does not tell you about the DNA damage. Toxic Household Products; Avoid Soft Plastics and Use Natural products at home where possible. Bisphenol A (BPA) for example, found in plastic and food packaging, is an endocrine disruptor shown to decrease both sperm quality and sexual function, as well as being associated with chromosomally abnormal oocytes and recurrent miscarriage. Replace plastics in the kitchen with glass and other products that do not contain BPA’s

  4. Don’t Save Sex Just for Ovulation:This is a common mistake in couples trying to pinpoint the ‘fertile window’. They wrongly think that by having sex at ovulation they will increase their chances. This is flawed, as although it is important to have sex at ovulation it is as important to have regular sex throughout the month. This is because the sperm needs to be as potent as possible. If it has been sitting around all month just waiting to be ejaculated at ovulation then it may have passed its ‘sell by date’ (so to speak). There is also evidence to suggest that couples that have regular sex outside of the fertile window are more fertile. The only time this may not be true is when the man has a very low sperm count (i.e not much sperm). In which case there is some evidence to show that saving sex to ovulation maybe of benefit.

  5. Include these Nutrients to Improve Sperm Quality:Ensuring that these key nutrients are a part of your diet is vital for keeping the sperm healthy. Omega-3 long chain fatty acids are critical to turning dysfunctional round-headed sperm into strong swimmers with cone-shaped heads packed with egg-opening proteins. These can be found in oily fish or marine plant based supplements. Walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds can also provide short chain omega-3 fatty acids that have a limited conversion to long-chain fatty acids in the body. A lack of folic acid can also be linked to sperm abnormality studies show, sources of this can therefore be found in green leafy vegetables; broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts etc. liver, chickpeas and brown rice. Zinc, found in oysters, lentils, pumpkin seeds, chicken, seeds, nuts and cocoa, has been shown to increase testosterone levels, sperm count and sperm motility. Carotenoids are also excellent for improving the quality of sperm and can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, avocados, red peppers and dried apricots. Drizzling good quality cold pressed oils on cooked vegetables and other dishes increases absorption.