Spring is the perfect time to set out your plans and priorities for the months ahead. For those trying to have a baby, pregnancy will always be top of the list, and there are many things you can do to help improve your chances of success, even if you’ve struggled in the past. For men, the quality of your sperm is paramount, and this is determined not only by simple markers such as the number and movement of sperm but also the levels of DNA damage. Sperm DNA quality has a big impact on fertility. Research has proven that high levels of sperm DNA damage affects the chances of getting your partner pregnant, as well as the likelihood of miscarriage and can even predict the chances of success with fertility treatments including IVF and ICSI. Now is an ideal time to take your fertility into your own hands and make simple lifestyle changes that could improve the quality of your sperm DNA, giving you the best possible chance of having a baby soon.
This is the time of year when New Year’s resolutions start to slip, so if you need added motivation to keep eating more healthily, taking more exercise, drinking less or quitting smoking, then make a note that sticking to all of these lifestyle choices will improve the quality of your sperm DNA. What could be better motivation than knowing that your commitment to living a healthy lifestyle could significantly improve the quality of your sperm DNA and increase your chances of a healthy baby!
Here, Lister Fertility Clinic and Examen bring you top 5 tips to help improve your fertility:
1. Understand your starting point. Standard semen analysis is not enough to tell you if your sperm DNA is damaged. Examen’s research shows that 80 percent of the men attending fertility clinics who had normal sperm counts showed high levels of sperm DNA damage using the Exact test. A recent joint study conducted by Examen and the Lister Fertility Clinic demonstrated that the technology behind Exact tests improves the diagnosis of unexplained infertility and the prediction of the outcome of both ICSI and IVF. It’s therefore important to get tested and understand the condition and quality of your sperm.
2. Eat a balanced diet, high in antioxidants. Sperm DNA damage is caused by oxidative stress which produces free radicals which can break DNA strands. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help to limit the presence of free radicals and reduce sperm DNA damage. You can also consider taking nutritional supplements as part of your healthy lifestyle. As part of its holistic approach, the Lister also offers its patients the opportunity to discuss nutritional needs with a dietician, as well as working closely with specialist fertility nutritionists such as Melanie Brown.
3. Quit Smoking! Smoking is detrimental to health, including your fertility. Tobacco contains over 4,000 ingredients and lots of them are toxic to sperm including cyanide, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium and ammonia! Smoking produces lots of free radicals which, as mentioned above, cause damage to sperm DNA. It has been shown that smoking over 20 cigarettes a day reduces sperm count and motility, so quitting smoking could save your sperm from harm and significantly improve your chances of getting your partner pregnant. Visit NHS Smokefree for tips and support to help you quit.
4. Drink less alcohol. Drinking more than 2 pints of beer or 1 large glass of wine a day increases your risk of infertility. Try to limit your intake as much as possible. Remember, UK guidelines say that when trying for a baby, men shouldn’t drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a week.
5. Get more sleep. Many men in their thirties and forties are working really hard and sleep is the first thing to suffer. Sleep plays a key role in protecting male hormones and sleep deprivation can cause the immune system to overreact and attack sperm. Stress can also limit sperm production and getting more sleep is one way to combat stress. Try to get 7 hours restful sleep and leave your phone (and Netflix) outside the bedroom!
Everyone’s fertility journey is different but give yourself the best possible start this spring by making a few simple changes that could bring you one step closer to getting your partner pregnant and becoming a dad.
For more information on how we can help you understand and improve your fertility call The Lister Fertility Clinic or visit the Examen website.
By Mr James Nicopoullos, Clinical Director at the Lister Fertility Clinic and Prof Sheena Lewis, CEO of Examen.
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