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Diet, Nutrition, & Lifestyle Factors

It is important to remember that dietary and lifestyle changes, including the addition of vitamins and minerals take around 3 months to have a full effect upon sperm and egg health. Sperm development takes a minimum of 90 days before it is considered mature enough and ready for ejaculation.

Male Factors and Advice

Fruit and Vegetables
It is advisable to try and move towards organic fruit and vegetables in order to avoid the damaging effects of pesticides on sperm production and morphology and egg health.
Increasing consumption to 5-6 portions a day will ensure a diet rich in anti-oxidants. Include whole grains, nuts and seeds in the diet including the following:

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pecans
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts

Try Cutting down on red meat consumption and include more deep sea fish (not farmed) and organic poultry. If it is difficult to avoid red meat it is best to try and ensure that is this is organically reared.

Stress Stress unfortunately has a major impact upon male fertility health, affecting sperm production, morphology and motility, as well as all the other well known detrimental effects. Please take the time to read the research information on stress and the impact on fertility.

Exercise It is best to avoid heavy, strenuous exercise. Bicycling is one activity that may affect sperm counts. The constant bumping of the testes, combined with the added heat generated from sweating in the scrotal area may contribute to diminished sperm counts. If the man’s sperm analysis is fine, then by all means enjoy the daily bike rides. But if the sperm count is marginal, it’s one you may benefit from avoiding.

It is therefore advisable to try the following:

  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • T’ai Chi
  • Yoga

Heat The testicles are designed to be outside of the body to ensure that they are 1.0 degree lower than normal body temperature. This is the perfect temperature for efficient and healthy sperm production

Try to avoid

  • Hot baths
  • Saunas and steam rooms
  • Heated car seats

Wear

  • Boxer shorts

It is suggested that until you achieve the pregnancy you desire you may want to avoid anything that causes the sperm to get too hot. And remember that it may take 2-3 months after reducing such exposure for a new generation of healthy sperm to mature.

Caffeine
Whilst there is conflicting research on the implications of caffeine and how it affects the sperm (please refer to research added), caffeine may unfortunately have a detrimental effect on sperm motility and their ability to move, and in extreme cases it may cause complete immobilisation of sperm, therefore it is advisable to avoid if possible. Caffeine is not only found in coffee, tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks, but it is often hidden in many other substances
It is suggested to gradually reduce this from the diet in order to avoid toxic withdrawal headaches

Alcohol
This is the most socially acceptable ‘drug’ and is used more and more to manage stress levels in today’s society. Yet it is possible it may have a devastating impact upon sperm morphology and motility

It is therefore beneficial to reduce intake to 4-5 units per week, ideally of red wine and avoiding beer altogether. Beer tends to be contaminated with chemicals that may be detrimental to sperm health

Tobacco
Men who smoke often have lower sperm counts, poor motility and higher numbers of malformed sperm. Nicotine may also interfere with absorption of vitamins and minerals, causing increased free-radicals, which is damaging to the developing sperm cells and therefore may increase the likelihood of DNA fragmentation

Laptops Computers/Mobile Phones
The radiation and heat transmitted by mobile phones is known to interfere with sperm production. It is best to ensure that you are not carrying a mobile phone in your trouser pocket or working with a laptop computer on the lap

Antibiotics/Anti-Depressants/Beta-blockers
Many of the above prescribed medications may interfere with the production of healthy, functioning sperm. Therefore if you have to take prescribed drugs it is always advisable to refer back to your GP.

St John’s Wort/Echinacea/Gingko Biloba
All of the above may affect sperm quality and their ability to penetrate the egg and so are best avoided if there are fertility difficulties

Male Vitamin/Mineral Recommendations
Recommended: Solgar or Lamberts

  • Multi-Vitamin – StrongStart for Men
  • Vitamin B Complex – usually a B50 will be sufficient
  • Zinc – 30mg
  • Co-Enzyme Q10 – 10mg
  • Garlic – 1650mg
  • Vitamin E – 400iu
  • Vitamin C – 1000mg
  • Vitamin D – 1000iu
  • Lycopene – 1200mg
  • L-Arginine – 500mg
  • L-Canitine – 500mg

These doses are therapeutic rather than maintenance
The above supplements may be beneficial for males with low sperm, poor motility / morphology. Certainly for all men it is advisable to take a good Multi-Vitamin.
Arginine is considered a nonessential amino acid, yet it may help a number of men with a low sperm count. Specifically studies have shown that taking an oral dose of 4 grams a day of pure powered arginine dissolved in water can markedly increase sperm count and mortility in some men.
It is important to remember that everything a man does on his own will probably not be reflected in the ejaculate for two to three months as it takes time in order for newly created sperm to reach maturity.

Female Factors and Advice

Fruit/Vegetables and Water

In order to ensure your fertility health is at its optimum and your chances of miscarriage are reduced it makes sense that your diet is providing the best nutrition
Eating 5-6 portions of fruit and vegetables each day is a sensible approach – a good idea are soups packed with vegetables as an easy way of consuming them. Smoothies are great too particularly if using the whole fruit.
Try to cut down on red meat consumption and include more deep sea fish (not farmed) and organic poultry. If it is difficult to avoid red meat it is best to try and ensure that it is organically reared.
Increasing your intake of water in the second half of your cycle is extremely beneficial. The endometrium requires good blood flow, which will be difficult if you are dehydrated. It is usually recommended taking smaller amounts of water, hourly, to ensure constant hydration

Stress
Stress has a major impact upon the menstrual cycle, causing irregularities and in extreme circumstances cessation of ovulation. It can cause enormous difficulties with conception and is thought to be a contributory factor in miscarriage, once again please take the time to read the research information on stress

Exercise
Many women now spend considerable amounts of time at the gym, or running, too much exercise may have an impact upon fertility and ovulation.

It is best to avoid or reduce the following:

  • Running – Strenuous
  • Gym – Excessive

Why not try:

  • Brisk walking for 30 minutes several times a week
  • Yoga
  • T’ai Chi

Caffeine
Caffeine is thought to be linked to chromosomal abnormalities and miscarriage and may lengthen the amount of time it takes to conceive. It is not only in coffee, tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks but also hidden in many other substances
It is suggested to gradually reduce this from the diet in order to avoid toxic withdrawal headaches

Alcohol
The effects of alcohol upon pregnancy and the developing baby are very well documented, and may increase the chances of still-births, miscarriages and abnormalities. There is a possibility it may also have a direct impact upon the quality of the egg
It is therefore advisable to reduce to the occasional glass of wine, preferably organic if possible.
Tobacco
Nicotine as well as being highly toxic is thought to reduce blood flow and these two things in themselves are often a good enough reason to stop smoking. Alongside which it may have a direct impact upon fertility and increase the chances of miscarriage, still births and abnormalities

Computers/Microwaves/Mobile Phones
Low level radiation is not something we want to expose delicate developing cells too. It makes sense to keep exposure to a minimum, taking regular breaks if working at a computer every day, avoiding micro-waved food and keeping mobile phones in handbags and not trouser or skirt pockets

Prescribed Medication
Many prescribed medications interfere with female fertility. Therefore if you have to take prescribed drugs it is always advisable to refer back to your GP.

Female Vitamin/Mineral Recommendations
As with male supplementation it is important to ensure that all vitamins/minerals are of the best quality.

  • Multi-vitamin – Lamberts StrongStart MVM
  • Vitamin B Complex – usually a B50 Complex
  • Zinc – 30M
  • Selenium – 200mg
  • Co-Enzyme Q10 – 200mg
  • Essential Fatty Acids – Omega 3, 6 and 9’s
  • Vitamin C – 1000mg
  • Vitamin D – 1000iu
  • She-Oak – Dosage 7 drops morning and evening. Add Flannel Flower after 6 months if not pregnant

She-Oak is an Australian Bush Remedy and the founder Ian White carried out some research with women with unexplained infertility using She-Oak. Of 25 women, 23 conceived within a 6 month period of taking the remedy. It works on the deep seated emotional reasons that are so much a part of fertility issues and therefore is often recommended to clients
In the case of women that have experienced a miscarriage taking a Vitamin C supplement may also be beneficial.

Details on She-Oak
She-Oak is an essence which is very beneficial in overcoming imbalances and bringing about a sense of wellbeing in females. It will benefit women who feel distressed about infertility. It removes those personal blocks that prevent conception. She-Oak can also be used in conjunction with Flannel Flower which will help remove karmic patterns hindering conception. The fruit of this tree is very similar in size to a woman's ovary. This Essence was made from the female tree of the species.

Negative Condition: • female imbalance • inability to conceive for non-physical reasons

Positive Outcome: • emotionally open to conceive • female balance

Stockists: www.nealsyardremedies.com – Tel: 0845 262 3145 - £8.96 + VAT
As a practitioner I am only able to advise on supplements and nutrition, if there is a medical condition and daily medication has been prescribed as a result, I must stress that you check with your GP before taking any supplements suggested.

Additional Advice
Strong healthy sperm can survive for at least 3 days and sometimes up to 7 days, in good fertile cervical mucus. Clients are advised to ‘make love’ three times in the week leading up to ovulation, this should be more than sufficient to ensure that sperm are ‘in situ’ and ready to fertilise the ovum once it has been released. This helps to alleviate the pressure of timed love-making and help to put back some of the ‘magic’ that should be associated with creating this new and wonderful life
However, I would advise that in situations where the male has issues with sperm to ensure that ejaculations are kept to a maximum frequency of every 48 hours. For men with marginal counts this may be all that is necessary to bring it up to normal.

Positions during intercourse
Although no definitive studies appear to have been done, there is considerable speculation that it if the man has a marginal sperm count, the best position for intercourse is the traditional missionary position. This allows for deepest penetration, and will thus deposit the sperm closest to the cervix. Some clinicians also believe that if your cervical fluid is not that fertile, or the sperm quality marginal, it may be advantageous for you to remain lying down for up to half an hour in the basic position in which you had intercourse. The theory is that this will help assure the sperm time to travel up.
Low levels of Vitamin D can also have an impact on the outcome of IVF; Vitamin D boosts levels of progesterone and oestrogen, thus improving the likelihood of a successful conception.
It is suggested you have your levels of Vitamin D checked at the Zita West clinic, details of which can be found on their website, please follow link. Zita West is also able to carry out AMH testing (egg reserve testing).

Stress & Fertility