We know that fertility supplements are essential for any woman when trying to conceive, but one important aspect of any fertility journey that often gets overlooked are male fertility supplements. So, let’s dive into the research and see why a fertility supplement for fathers-to-be should definitely be on your radar!
Any couple who has gone through a fertility journey will know, there are many factors that come into play when giving yourself the best chance at trying to conceive. One important aspect in any journey that is most within our control is our diet – and that includes supplements as well! However, often, male fertility supplementation is overlooked!
I’m sure you’ve heard of fertility supplements that are specifically designed for women, however, one important aspect in any couple’s fertility journey that seems to get frequently overlooked is a fertility supplement for fathers-to-be.
I mean, you are one half of the baby-making puzzle at the end of the day! Let’s dive into what male fertility supplements are, what nutrients are important and the recommended time frame you should be taking them.
A quick 4-1-1 on male fertility supplements
As with fertility supplements for women, male fertility supplements contain nutrients known to be important in improving the likelihood of conceiving but also to ensure normal fetal development after conception, from a sperm health perspective.
You’ve probably seen these supplements pop up every now and again when you visit the chemist or pharmacy. They are relatively inexpensive and the majority you can buy off the shelf and therefore don’t require a prescription. All win-win’s if you ask me!
Why should I be taking one?
The current research shows that certain male fertility supplements, that contain the right nutrients, can improve sperm health (Salas-Huetos, 2018) . This includes improving the characteristics of your sperm as well as helping those little swimmers make their way to the all important egg!
It’s all in the ingredient list!
Now that we’ve walked through the in’s and out’s of what male fertility supplements are and why they could be a beneficial inclusion into your day, let’s dive into what you should be looking for on the ingredient list!
Antioxidants are a must have in any male fertility supplement! In a nutshell they are molecules that work to fight against free radicals and inflammation in the body. These are the guys that could potentially lead to damage of the delicate DNA that lives inside the sperm.
Free radicals, when in excess, can be harmful and have even been linked to male infertility through:
- Decreasing the ability of sperm to move independently and in the right directions (sperm motility)
- Causing changes in the shape of the sperm (sperm morphology)
- Causing changes to the sperm’s DNA (A Saleh & Agarwal, 2002).
As antioxidants work to fight against free radicals, it makes it a no-brainer to include these in a supplement aimed to improve sperm health!
The most common antioxidants you will see on ingredient lists are Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Lycopene and Coenzyme Q10. They have all been shown in the research to overcome the negative effects that free radicals can have on sperm (Nadjarzadeh et al. 2013, Ahmadi et al. 2016 & Nouri et al. 2019).
I’m sure you’ve probably heard me talk about Omega-3 fatty acids before and that’s because they’re a powerhouse nutrient group when it comes to fertility!
Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids, meaning we have to eat them in our diet as our body can’t make them. They have antioxidant properties (which we have already discussed is pivotal for sperm health) and help to decrease inflammation in the reproductive organs (Safarinejad, 2011).
Another important point to make about Omega-3’s is that they are part of the building blocks that make up sperm cells and studies have found that infertile men actually have lower levels of Omega-3’s in their sperm cells compared to men who are fertile (Safarinejad et al. 2009).
This again highlights just how important they are in a supplement!
Selenium is a mineral but it is also an antioxidant and has been shown to improve sperm health through its ability to fight oxidative stress (Ghafarizadeh et al. 2018).
Learn all about what key nutrients are required for optimal male fertility in my eGuide, Nutrition for Male Fertility, available to download today for just $19 AUD / $13 USD. Click here to grab your copy.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that has been shown to improve male fertility through controlling hormone production and improving sperm motility (de Angelis et al. 2017).
As with any fat soluble vitamin, any excess over what is required by the body will be stored and in some cases can lead to toxicity. It’s important to speak to your fertility dietitian to ensure the levels in your fertility supplement are in line with your current needs.
Zinc & Folic Acid
We all know that folic acid is the VIP nutrient when it comes to fertility as it is important for normal fetal development, especially in reducing the risk of neural tube defects (FSANZ, 2009). Zinc is also important for not only men’s overall health but also sperm function.
It is highly likely you’ll see these two ingredients in male fertility supplements as it was once thought they were beneficial both in our diet as well as in supplements aimed at improving fertility. However, new research has found they may not be as beneficial in this supplement form as we thought and that focusing on dietary forms of folate/folic acid and zinc is more the way to go (Schisterman et al. 2020).
Having them as part of your fertility supplement won’t cause any harm, however, it’s important to speak to a fertility dietitian to ensure the levels of zinc and folic acid in the supplement matches your individual needs.
Read more about what foods contain zinc here!
How long should you be taking a fertility supplement?
Ultimately, a male fertility supplement should be taken for at least 6 months before conception! Research has found that men who were taking a fertility supplement for 3 months saw less improvements in sperm health compared to those who were taking their supplement for 6 months (Salas-Huetos, 2018). I know, it may seem like a long time, however, these amazing nutrients need time to work their charms!
If you feel, as a father-to-be, you would benefit from a fertility supplement or just don’t know where to start, apply to work with me one-on-one today and let’s find a supplement regime that is tailored to you and your needs! If you just need help with supplements, you can book in for a supplement review here.