You’ve tried it all. You’ve eliminated caffeine from your life, cleaned up your cleaning products, and added a healthy dose of vitamin D to your diet. But you still haven't conceived.
I’ve seen many women struggle with fertility issues. The good news is that I've also seen many successfully conceive once they adopt the right food and lifestyle habits to balance out their endocrine systems. But for some women, getting their hormones in check doesn’t seem to be enough. Their cycles are stable, their energy is optimal—and yet they still can’t get pregnant.
Which raises the question: Could it be a problem with their partner’s fertility?
Three Factors That Can Hurt Male Fertility
We often get caught up in the importance of female fertility and forget to acknowledge the profound role men play in the baby-making game. But there are plenty of things that can potentially stand in the way of a man’s successful fertility and (thankfully) also plenty of things a man can do to increase his odds of becoming a dad.
Just as women face environmental pollutants and dietary obstacles, men deal with endocrine disrupters, too. Some of these roadblocks may surprise you:
1. Low testosterone
We often talk about hormonal imbalances and how they apply to women, but men can get off track too. If your man is moody, overweight, or simply not interested in sex, he may have too much estrogen and too little testosterone.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone that both men (and to a certain extent, women) need to stay physically and sexually strong. If something disrupts the body’s natural healthy levels of this hormone, symptoms like fatigue and even depression can arise. Not to mention, depleted testosterone and elevated estrogen can severely affect the quality, mobility, and motility of a man’s sperm, compromising conception even further.
2. An unbalanced gut
You’re probably familiar with the importance of gut bacteria and how a microbiome disruption can be at the root of many health issues. But you may not know that it can wreak havoc on hormones, as well. We require a delicate balance of gut bacteria in order to stay healthy, and when bad bacteria outnumber the good due to a poor diet or too many antibiotics, that delicate balance can be disturbed.
One consequence of an unbalanced microbiome is the possibility of micronutrient malabsorption. When a man can’t get access to the vitamins and minerals necessary to support proper hormonal production, problems will inevitably arise, and this, of course, includes reproductive problems as well.
We know that pesticide-filled produce can harm sperm count. But even if they’re dutifully eating an organic diet, men could still be exposed to pesticides in unexpected recreational havens, such as the golf course.
Even if your guy has never picked up a club, he may still be exposing himself and his hormones to the same kinds of pesticides if he ever does lawn work or doubles as your in-house, ant-killing exterminator. While more research in this area needs to be done, frequent exposure to those chemicals could mean increased fertility challenges.
How to Enhance Male Fertility
While there are a lot of factors that can potentially stand in your man’s way of helping you conceive, there are also many ways you can both counteract some of the damaging factors. Here are just a few ways to turn things around:
1. Consider supplements.
Food is my favorite way for both men and women to get the right nutrients for their hormonal health—but sometimes supplements can provide a much-needed boost.
For men specifically, zinc and selenium are important fertility factors, and research shows selenium supplementation can improve semen quality while zinc plays an important role in modulating testosterone levels. Studies also suggest that B vitamins are important for sperm count and motility as well as the synthesis of testosterone.
2. Take a probiotic.
Taking a high-quality, anti-inflammatory probiotic can re-establish good gut health and rebalance bacteria.
3. Avoid pesticides when possible.
If golf is your partner's favorite pastime, he may want to reconsider or at the very least take a long break. But it’s important to avoid all known areas teeming with pesticides. Your guy should consider avoiding doing any yard work, insect extermination, or other household chores that involve synthetic, toxic chemicals. He should also make sure the kitchen is stocked with organic produce, meats, grains, and seeds.