The best predictor of making a healthy embryo is having healthy sperm and healthy eggs. No surprises there! As sperm is half of the equation, you may be wondering “how can I increase the health of my sperm?” or “what can my husband do to improve our chances of conception?”
Well, there are proven ways to improve sperm health and two of the most effective strategies are with the right exercise and diet. Once again- it sounds pretty straight forward but how do you know if you are getting all of the micronutrients you need to make healthy sperm? How do you know if you are doing too much or not enough exercise?
Six months of moderate exercise in males with low sperm counts with or without low motility increased live birth rates by over 90%! The birth rate in men that did not exercise was 0%. That is correct. Every male wanting a baby should be physically active!
Adapted from data from Hajizadeh et al 2017
The key is getting the balance right though as too much high intensity exercise and many hours of cycling impair sperm health. If in doubt, keep your exercise at a low to moderate intensity and minimise your sedentary time. Remember that watching TV for more than 20 hours a week is associated with a huge 44% reduction in sperm quality and if your waist circumference is greater than 100 cm you are likely to have a 22% decrease in healthy sperm.
If you don’t get enough fruit, veg and wholegrains into your daily food intake you are 2.6 times more likely to have an abnormal sperm concentration and reduced motility. Aim for five serves of veggies a day, preferably non-starchy vegetables (no potato). One serve of veggies is equivalent to 1 cup of salad or ½ cup cooked non-starchy vegetables. For some this would be a huge increase in vegetable intake but with the right strategies you can incorporate some veggies at snack times and definitely in your lunches and dinners. A veggie packed stir fry for dinner anyone?