About one in five couples are having trouble getting pregnant in the U.S. and one of the main causes is poor sperm quality, low count and low motility. If a man has lower than 15 million sperm per mL, of semen, that is considered low count. But does that mean the couple has to resort to TESE or some other procedure right away? For some couples, yes – get checked out after trying to conceive for 6 months with no pregnancies, and get a full female and male workup, including a DFI test, which will let you know way more information that just a standard (SA) semen analysis. For some men and couples TTC (trying to conceive), they may have some issues with borderline low quality or count, but that can be shifted in your advantage with lifestyle and dietary changes.
Once you get a male factor infertility work up, the best thing you can do is start taking an antioxidant. Sperm is particularly vulnerable to free radical damage, otherwise known as oxidative stress. These free radicals are unstable molecules which may cause cellular destruction, and high levels endanger sperm function and viability. What causes oxidative stress and free radicals? Toxic chemicals at work or in the home, or pollution, poor health and body function, and poor nutrition. Since semen normally contains antioxidants to protect sperm against free radicals, if this natural defense system is impaired, sperm can start dysfunctioning on many levels, and either prevent a couples from conceiving, or the couple might get pregnant, but have a miscarriage.
The first solution? removing the causes of free radical damage. What chemicals are you exposed to at work? Do you sleep with a printer in your bedroom? (The printer ink can interfere with spermiogenesis). Do you keep air-cleaning plants in your home? Do you use a lotion that has questionable chemicals or ingredients in it? And, what are you putting in your body? Take a look at the things in your life that may be causing these issues.
Second step involves consuming more antioxidants. What foods help your sperm and have these? Tomatoes, lentils, nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds and walnuts, and berries like blueberries and pomegranates, and of course plenty of water. What to cut out of your daily eating habits? Soda, aspartame and anything overly processed.