Infertility is an issue that affects one in six couples at some point, whether they are trying for their first baby or a sibling for one they already have. The causes affect, almost equally, both men and women.
There are many aspects of modern lifestyle that are believed to contribute to the problem of low fertility or infertility. A poor diet is a key one, as is taking products to enhance body image and excessive use of technology. These can all have a negative impact on the production and efficacy of sperm and may lower your chances of conceiving naturally with your partner.
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Anabolic Steroids and Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) can have a serious impact on fertility and their use is by no means limited to professional athletes. Men who wish to build muscle sometimes resort to choosing this path in their pursuit for the ‘ideal’ body, rather than working harder for similar results through training and a good diet.
Steroids can not only reduce your sperm production, they will also shrink your testicles. Yikes! Mr. Munner, Consultant Urologist and male infertility expert from the Harley Street Fertility Clinic comments: “These drugs impact on fertility by tricking the brain into believing the reproductive organs do not need to produce testosterone. Consequently, testosterone levels in the testicles are very low compared to the rest of the body, where levels will be normal or above average.
“As a result, the follicle stimulating hormone will not be released and this combination will cause the testicles to reduce in size and produce a minimal amount of sperm, if any.”
Steroids also have a variety of other unpleasant side effects, from acne and baldness, to ‘roid rage’ and strokes.
Mr Munner continues: “Withdrawal symptoms after stopping the use of steroids will include a loss of energy as the testosterone level around the body plummets, causing a low sex drive and tiredness.”
However, the good news is, the effects can be reversible, though this will depend entirely on the length of time a person has been using the drug and the strength of the dose.
Sometimes, sperm will become present within ejaculate three months after stopping the use of steroids but in heavy users sperm counts may take several years to return to normal. Medical help can be sought to improve sperm production, so it is worth visiting your doctor or a fertility specialist to help guide and support you when trying to start a family. Most of all, think twice before embarking on the steroid journey.
Did you know that the heat from a laptop can reduce a man’s fertility levels? If you commute and use your computer on your lap, it’s time to think again.
Mr Muneer explains: “There is some evidence to show that the heat produced from a laptop can cause the tails of sperm to curl around the main body, thus reducing their swimming capabilities and creating a slower-paced movement towards the egg.
“However, when the heat is removed, the sperm will improve in quality again. This problem of exposure to heat can also affect chefs, who are subjected to high temperatures within their working environment.”
There has also been some research into the effect of wireless technology on the quality of a man’s sperm. Researchers from the Nascentis Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Cordoba, Argentina and the Eastern Virginia Medical School, found that the motility of sperm was reduced and its genetic make-up altered when exposed to higher temperatures and when Wi-Fi was introduced.
In comparison, sperm kept at the same temperature that was not subjected to Wi-Fi fared far better. This research was completed in artificial settings, so further investigations need to be carried out but it is certainly something to bear in mind when trying to conceive.
A poor diet and lack of physical activity can have a big impact on your chances of conceiving naturally. Improving your diet will not only increase the possibility of a natural conception but can also help those undergoing fertility treatment, allowing the drugs to work more effectively as the body is in a healthier position.
Nutritionist, Neema Saviddes from the Harley Street Fertility Clinic says: “A low or high Body Mass Index will prove to be a barrier when trying to conceive, so addressing any weight issues is a must. A few simple dietary changes can have a significant impact on the quality and quantity of your sperm and help you to improve any underlying problems.”
There are certain foods that can be introduced to improve the quality of sperm produced. These include:
- Zinc: a key nutrient for the production of sperm which boosts motility and removes oestrogen from the body, which is liked to a low sperm count. 30-50mg recommended daily amount – found in turkey, chicken breasts and nuts.
- Selenium: Essential for sperm formation and testosterone production. 200mg recommended daily amount. Found in Brazil nuts, fish eggs, mushrooms.
- Vitamin B12: Increase sperm count and mobility. 1000mg recommended daily amount. Found in yoghurt, eggs, fresh salmon and beef.
- Vitamin C: Improves viability of sperm and neutralises the effects of toxins. 1000mg recommended daily amount. Found in kiwis, oranges, red peppers, cabbage and asparagus.
- Vitamin E: Improves mobility of sperm. 200mg recommended daily amount. Found in almonds, avocados and tomatoes.