The following article has been submitted by Francesca Naish from Natural Fertility Management:
Super Sperm and the Mighty Minerals
One in six couples is infertile. In 40 per cent of cases the problem rests with the male, in 40 per cent with the female, ten per cent with both partners, and in a further ten per cent of cases, the cause is unknown.
One in 25 males has a low sperm count and one in 35 is sterile.
Fertility issues can often be left in the hands of the female partner, but it is actually critical that men address their role in conception too. Even with issues such as miscarriage, it is equally vital to support the health of the male partner as well. Whilst there are many specific herbs and nutritional supplements that can support male fertility, two of the key minerals when it comes to male fertility that can not be overlooked are zinc and selenium.
Sperm are actually more vulnerable than eggs to toxic exposure and nutritional deficiency. Unlike eggs, which are safely cocooned within the mother’s body and are only vulnerable during maturation, sperm are generated wholly during the preconception period, and therefore exposed to any physiological or environmental hazards present at that time. Sperm are also smaller than eggs and are held outside the body, increasing their susceptibility.
Issues with sperm health can vary from poor sperm count, poor motility (movement), poor morphology (shape) to fragmented sperm DNA, and therefore treatment options vary as well.
However, once causes are identified and addressed, many of these issues respond well to natural treatments.
Nutritionally, zinc is of paramount importance for all sperm parameters, and has been shown to increase count, motility and morphology, as well as overall fertility1,2. Zinc deficiency is associated with reduced sperm numbers2 and testosterone levels, and men with normal concentration have higher levels of zinc than those with reduced numbers3. Zinc supplementation has also been shown to reduce the incidence of anti-sperm antibodies in semen2, thus improving motility.
Healthy semen is rich in both zinc and selenium, which is an essential source of antioxidant protection against free radical damage. Oxidative stress is devastating to all sperm parameters, including DNA fragmentation. Unfortunately zinc and selenium are two of our most common deficiencies in Australia and NZ, with our ancient soils (and a major cause of high incidence of asthma and allergy).
Selenium has been shown to have an effect on Leydig cells (which produce testosterone) and can increase the production of testosterone, and lead to improved sperm quality and all parameters4, has been shown to help prevent DNA fragmentation5, and has been associated with reduced miscarriage risk6 (and as I mentioned for which we always need to also treat the male).
If you are looking to start a family it is advisable to ensure that both partners are in excellent health and free of toxins. Arrange a thorough health assessment today by calling True Medicine on 07 5530 1863.
Please resist the temptation to self-prescribe as the form of minerals and supplements taken is vital to ensure success. At True Medicine we use only superior quality practitioner-only products.
1. Carpino et al, Molecular Human Reproduction 1999; 5(4): 338-41
2. Tikiwal M et al, Ind J Phys Pharm1987; 31:30-34
3. Danscher G et al, Int J Androl 1978; 1: 576-81
4. Akinloye O et al, Biological Trace Element Research 2005; 104: 9-18
5. Chi H J et al, Reproduction 2008; 23(5): 1023-8
6. Scott R et al, Br J Urol 1998; 82: 76-80