dads-health-just-as-important-as-mums-for-healthy-babiesThe preconception health of men is just as important as women’s despite the societal focus having been more on the female’s fertility health to-date.

We are now well aware that sperm quality impacts fertility, and the lifestyle choices men make for up to three months prior to conception can have an impact.

For almost a generation there has been emphasis on needing super-fast “Formula 1” sperm to make a baby, with the theory that the first sperm to reach the egg must be the best quality. However, we are now aware that a good sperm count and motility, does not necessarily mean good quality sperm.

The process of maturing sperm occurs in cycles, taking roughly three months, with several hundred million sperm reaching maturity daily. This process, called spermatogenesis, is important to understand because what you eat, drink and your general health for up to three months prior conception or fertility treatment can make a difference to the quality of the sperm produced on the day.

The most common factors recognised as having a negative effect on sperm quality are: diet; lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs; medical conditions like obesity and diabetes; environmental factors like exposure to chemicals, toxins and heat; recent illness (prior, during or after 3 months of treatment) resulting in high fevers; body mass index (BMI); age; and genetics.

These factors put a large strain on the body, whether they cause changes to the hormone balance in the testes, or filter through the bloodstream, supplying a contaminated food source to developing sperm cells. This can result in harmful free radicals being produced which attack otherwise healthy molecules and can lead to poor quality sperm being produced.

Poor sperm health has been linked with reduced fertilisation rates, poor embryonic development, miscarriage, and birth defects.

So how do we reduce free radical damage?

Positive healthy changes to diet and lifestyle with the support of antioxidant nutritional supplementation have been proven to increase fertilisation and blastocyst development.

Antioxidants have been shown to support the body by helping to neutralise free radicals, preventing them from further damaging the tissues of the body. There are many sperm health supplements on the market containing antioxidants so look for products with the recommended male fertility antioxidants for best results. Remember to consult with your GP or a specialist for advice and guidance.

Making the right choices about your health in the lead up to conception will help towards giving you a better chance of conceiving and of quality DNA is being passed on for generations to come.