A French study has highlighted for the first time that it is not only women who experience a decline in fertility when over 35 years old. Men in this age category are more likely to have a greater rate of DNA damaged sperm contributing to fertility problems such as the inability to conceive or a later miscarriage. The researchers are urging doctors and patients to consider the age of the father when considering assisted reproduction.
Many times it is women who seek pre-conception treatment however 50% of fertility problems relate to males, demonstrating that fertility is not only a women's issue. There are many pre-conception therapies available to assist both males and females to increase their fertility.
All males and females will benefit from a (preferably organic) varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, good quality proteins and fats from nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish. Where the diet is lacking, a good quality multi vitamin should be considered. Maintaining a healthy weight (neither under nor over weight), enjoying moderate exercise and feeling emotionally well also have a positive effect on fertility. It is important for males to pay particular attention to reducing their alcohol intake as alcohol is a male reproductive tract toxin.
Men who are over 35 years old or have poor sperm counts or motility may need to consider additional support. Supplementation with zinc, selenium and vitamins B12 and C have all shown positively in studies in the areas of improving sperm count, and mobility, and protecting sperm DNA from oxidative damage.
Where no major cause of infertility has been identified with either partner, then it may be that the couple is sub-fertile. This refers to both partners having some slight reproductive dysfunction that does not appear to cause a problem individually but considering the couple's reproductive health together reduces their chance of conception and producing a healthy baby. If a sperm count or motility problem has been identified, or the couple is sub-fertile, the male partner would be advised to seek natural fertility therapies such as supplementation, herbal medicine or acupuncture, in addition to the female.
A pre-conception consultation is an ideal way to identify any lifestyle, dietary or other factors likely to impact on fertility and implement a plan to address them. Natural therapies in pre-conception care place importance on improving the health of the future parents (reflected in better quality eggs and sperm) contributing to a healthy baby.
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