Male Fertility – Naturopath’s Perspective.
For many couples, the dream of falling pregnant and then 40 weeks later delivering a healthy bundle of joy, can be a heart breaking struggle with 1 in 6 couples in Australian experiencing sub fertility. Attention is often focussed on the health and fertility of the female partner, but it is important to consider the health both partners. In 50% of infertility cases, a male factor is involved, either as a primary problem or in combination with a problem in the female partner.
This is why a Naturopath will work with both partners in the pre conception period to improve male and female fertility and support epigenetic factors for both partners that may affect foetal growth and development.
What is Naturopathic Pre conception Care?
The Naturopaths Preconception care protocol is designed to ensure adequate supply of all those nutritional factors essential for healthy sperm, ova and foetus. It is also designed to ensure an absence of those factors known to compromise general health or be harmful to foetal development.
How long will it take?
Sperm take up to 116 days to form. So, sperm expelled now have been exposed to toxins over the past 4 months. Similarly, ova can be susceptible to damage for 100 days prior to ovulation. So, preconception health care is usually undertaken ideally for 4 months before intended conception.
What is involved in Male Preconception care?
Sperm is a reflection of the overall health of a male. So a full health and diet and lifestyle assessment is the first step. Then a semen analysis can be performed to determine the viability of the sperm. A semen analysis will measure the number of sperm per millimetre (count), how well they move (motility) and the direction they swim (progressive motility) as well as their shape (morphology).There are many factors that can impact the health of the sperm and sometimes a small change in diet or lifestyle factor can be the difference between viable and non viable sperm.
The most important nutrients for sperm shape, motility and count are antioxidants such as selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E (which help neutralise free radical tissue damage from smoking, stress, poor diet etc) and zinc (oysters, pumpkin seeds). You should consult a Naturopath to determine if zinc and or antioxidant supplementation is appropriate for you.
A Naturopath will also take into consideration other factors of the male partner such as the hormonal status, stress response, heavy metal exposure and toxic load, immune function as well as lifestyle factors such as alcohol and coffee consumption, exercise and weight.
The typical Naturopathic preconception care protocol for the male will usually involve dietary and lifestyle modifications along with nutritional and herbal medicine to support sperm viability and healthy DNA turnover. It is important to remember that no two patients are ever the same and that you should always seek appropriate professional health care advice.