Infertility: Tipping the Scales in Your FavourCutting calories and improving male fertility
Scaling back is never easy but recent findings show that, pound for pound, your body weight can really affect your fertility. Even in optimal circumstances, only 50% to 70% of sperm are healthy enough to fertilize an egg. Cutting back your caloric intake can significantly improve the quality of your sperm and your chances of a fertile future.
Healthy sperm are dependent upon so many factors. Exposure to chemicals, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and excessive heat can be detrimental to sperm. A poor diet low in folate, zinc, selenium, and vitamin C can also contribute to a low sperm count and function. Saying yes to a healthier lifestyle free of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs can greatly increase your sperm count.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. High-quality, healthy sperm are the result of a nutritious, well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Research has shown that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) have less seminal fluid and a higher abnormal sperm count compared to men with a healthy BMI. Research leader Dr. Ghiyath Shayeb from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland says, "We are pleased to be able to add improved semen quality to the long list of benefits that we know are the result of an optimal body weight." It is important for men who are trying to have a child with their partner to reach an ideal, healthy body weight.
What is your optimal weight? Men with a normal BMI range of 20 to 25 tend to have higher levels of normal sperm as well as higher semen output than men with higher BMIs. Having too little or too much body fat can alter the balance of reproductive hormones, which in turn can reduce your sperm count and increase the chance of abnormal sperm.
The good news? Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is completely in your control. The rewards? As you watch your waistline shrink, your sperm quality and count may also increase. It's that simple. Making healthier choices for yourself will have long-term healthy consequences for the life of your future family.
The first step in cutting back can be as simple as seeing your doctor or fertility specialist. Together, you can determine your weight-loss goals and how to reach it. To maximize your time, answer the questions in the Fertility Doctor Discussion Guide before your next visit. You can also figure out your body mass index (BMI) with our BMI calculator.
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