Roughly one-third of infertility can be attributed to problems with the male. An even higher percentage can be attributed to both partners being sub-fertile. What are the known things can reduce male fertility?
We know that birth defects, cancer treatment, and some childhood diseases can reduce a man’s fertility, but since no one has control over these events, we dug a little deeper to look for things that may reduce fertility that you do have control over. Check out these 4 surprising things that can reduce male fertility.
1. Antacid Medication
A large study (1.5 million patients) found that the use of common antacid medications—proton pump inhibitors—lowered the total motile sperm count in study participants. Specifically, researchers found that the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) in the period between 12 and 6 months before semen analysis was associated with three times higher risk of lowered total motile sperm count adjusted for age and other medication. The sperm count of men who used PPIs during the 6 months immediately before the semen analysis was not statistically significantly lowered. You should talk with your doctor before making any changes to your medication, including PPIs, whether prescription or over the counter.
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Recent research found that lack of sleep was a bigger factor in reducing male fertility than age or alcohol consumption. Specifically, they found that poor sleep habits were associated with low testosterone levels in men.
The study looked at serum testosterone levels for 2,296 males 16 years of age or older. The researchers looked at several factors including the self-reported amount of sleep, age, and alcohol consumption. The average age of study participants was 46 and the average amount of sleep was 6.86 hours. The study found serum testosterone levels decreased by:
Age: 0.49 ng/dL per year of age,
Sleep: 5.85 ng/dL per lost hour of sleep, and
Alcohol consumption: 2.99 ng/dL per each unit increase in alcohol consumption.
Robert Brannigan, MD, a member of American Society’s of Reproductive Medicine Board of Directors, remarked:
“Reduction in testosterone level can have deleterious effects on a man’s health beyond his fertility and sexual function. Testosterone is essential for good metabolic function and decreased levels of the hormoneare associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Low testosterone can contribute to fatigue and depression, as well. A balanced diet and a healthy sleep routine are interventions a man can take on his own to help keep his T levels stable.”
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3. Soft Drinks/Sodas/Colas
Scientists have found that drinking one liter of soda a day could reduce sperm count by 30%. The scientists ruled out caffeine as the cause for the lower sperm quality, but because the consumption of soft drinks and fast food is often linked, they couldn’t rule out that the overall poor diets of the men rather than the soft drinks alone cause the decrease in their sperm count.
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4. Trans-Fatty Acids
In our everyday life most of us don’t give a lot of thought to what sperm are made of, but in case you are wondering the human sperm has a high concentration of fatty acids- especially the sperm head. This has led researchers to investigate if the fat content of a man’s diet would impact sperm quality. It turns out that dietary fat consumption does affect sperm quality.
Research has found that sperm quality is positively influenced by dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and negatively impacted by elevated saturated or trans fatty acid concentration.
The following foods are naturally high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and thus are encouraged:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, oysters, sardines
- Flaxseeds, Chia seeds
Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are not naturally occurring; they are created through a manufactured process known as “hydrogenation” where hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to form a semi-solid product. They are primarily found in processed food and usually listed on the ingredients list as “partially hydrogenated oils. They are often used in restaurants for deep-frying food because oils with trans fats can be used many times in commercial fryers, and the concentration of trans fats in these oils increases slightly each time they are used.
The good news is that the FDA banned the use of trans fats in food starting on June 18, 2018! The bad news is that products manufactured before this date can still be distributed until January 2020, or in some cases 2021. Also, food manufacturer’s are allowed to still use very small amounts of partially hydronated oils in their products after that date.
We can’t list all the foods that contain trans fats, but you should read food ingredient labels and avoid foods that list partially hydrogenated oils. Pay particular attention to the following products that may still contain trans fats.
- Vegetable shortening
- Microwave popcorn
- Fast food french fries
So there you have it — 4 things within your control that may affect male fertility.
What do you think of this list? Are there changes you can make today to positively impact your fertility? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.