• Katie Psarou

Should I be taking supplements for my sperm?



This week is national fertility awareness week. The focus is to spread the awareness of fertility issues that many couples face. Currently 1 in 6 couples will experience fertility problems, with one third of those accountable to men only.

Infertility in men is assessed by semen analysis, most commonly the sperm count (that is the number of total sperm), the shape of the sperm (looking at the head, neck and tail of the sperm) and how well the sperm swims. One other aspect that may also be assessed is the genetic material within the sperm referred to as DNA fragmentation. If the genetic material within the sperm are damaged then this can have real impact on whether the sperm can fertilize the egg and therefore whether couples are able to conceive.


Image by Thomas Breher from Pixabay


Although the scientific community understands very little about the biology of the sperm, there is an ongoing search for appropriate fertility treatment (whether IVF, ICSI, medications or supplements and lifestyle changes including diet). Couples would like to know what is the best treatment for them in order to help them conceive and have a baby in their arms.


Supplements for women

One of the common questions that I get is about supplements. We know that there are supplements recommended to women when trying to conceive. They include:

  • Folic Acid is essential for the baby’s brain development and to reduce the risk of neural tube defects) and

  • Vitamin D is required to absorb and utilise calcium in the body. Women require vitamin D to meet their own requirements prior to pregnancy as well as sufficient levels to build calcium stores for the baby to develop bones early in the pregnancy


What is the role of supplements in mens infertility?

But what about men? Do men need to take supplements when they are trying to conceive? And do they need to take supplements if they found issues with their sperm?

There is a plethora of supplements marketed for men’s fertility. Many of them contain a combination of vitamins and minerals, yet there is no consistency in the ingredients nor in levels of specific nutrients amongst supplements (Martins da Silva, 2019).

The most common nutrients in supplements which have also been found in healthy semen include:

· Vitamin C

· Vitamin E

· Carotenoids

· Folate

· Zinc

· Selenium

· Carnitines


Adequate levels of these nutrients potentially can help many couples to conceive (Smits et al., 2019), although further research is needed to ensure that correct and adequate supplementation will help to bring a baby home!


You may be tempted to buy these fertility supplements, but before you do just consider?

Do I need to take any of these supplements?

Am I currently deficient in any of these nutrients?

Will I be taking adequate amounts or overdosing?

Are they of good quality?

Will they improve my fertility?

How many supplements do I need? And how long do I need to take them for?

How do I know if I am getting the right nutrients or the right amount?

Can I afford them?

Can I improve my fertility by simply improving my diet?

There is an increasing evidence of the role of the diet in fertility. Unhealthy dietary patterns can negatively impact overall fertility, for example eating too much red and processed meat, or lacking in essential fatty acids or eating high sugary foods or snacks (Skoracka et al., 2020).

Fertility dietitians are unique in this field. They assess whether your diet contains sufficient nutrient levels through food sources and advise you how best to improve your diet and your daily nutrient requirements. They can also check that, if you do require supplements, these are tailored to you and meet your individual vitamin and mineral requirements, without overdosing and causing you any unnecessary harm or discomfort.

If you are unsure how to improve your fertility, if you feel confused about supplements and whether you are getting the correct dose, or you want to assess your diet and check whether you meet your daily needs, then book an appointment with me. My service for couples fertility includes a detailed dietary analysis report, in which I assess the most common nutrients linked to fertility. I am here to support YOU in your journey to your perfect little bean!


References:

1. Martins da Silva, S. J. (2019). Male Infertility and antioxidants: one small step for man, no giant leap for andrology? Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 39(6), 879-883. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2019.08.008

2. Smits, R. M., Mackenzie‐Proctor, R., Yazdani, A., Stankiewicz, M. T., Jordan, V., & Showell, M. G. (2019). Antioxidants for male subfertility. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3).

3. Skoracka, K., Eder, P., Łykowska-Szuber, L., Dobrowolska, A., & Krela-Kaźmierczak, I. (2020). Diet and Nutritional Factors in Male (In) fertility—Underestimated Factors. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(5), 1400.

Disclaimer:

The purpose of Sensible Nutrition Solutions is solely educational and to provide general information and advice based on current scientific evidence. The information available on the site is not a substitute for professional medical or specific dietary assessment, examination, diagnosis and treatment. If users have specific conditions that may be of concern, they should seek personal and clinically informed advice and assessment from a Registered Dietitian or other registered health professionals. The owner of this website is a UK registered dietitian with the Health and Care Professions Council and a member of the British Dietetic Association. The aim is to use scientific knowledge, clinical skills and expertise as a dietitian in an accurate and professionally responsible manner. This means any information provided in this website will not be false or misleading.

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Email: snsdietitian@gmail.com

Location: Cheshire, United Kingdom