Is fat killing men’s sperm count?

2013Jan24_MensFitness_AIf you are a would-be dad then next time you chow down a greasy burger you might want to think about how it might be reducing your chances of having a family. Could a diet rich in saturated fats be reducing a man’s chance of enjoying fatherhood? According to one recent study it just might do and in recent years there has been a greater emphasis on male infertility and possible factors which reduce sperm count or cause sperm to be less than productive.

Many couples are leaving starting a family until later than they did a few years ago. In 1990 more teenage women were having babies than females over 35 in the US but this has changed and the older first-time mom statistic is growing with dads following suit too. Along with this, fertility seems to have become a more talked about issue, and this is especially true perhaps because there are more and more solutions to pregnancy problems. With medical hope on the horizons, many couples fight infertility rather than simply settle for barren years ahead.

40% of fertility problems are male related
While most women who want to get pregnant often have an encyclopaedic knowledge of diet, supplements and lifestyle changes that might be necessary, men often play a more passive role. Many men want to have children of their own but anecdotally at least it is women who talk more openly about wanting to be pregnant and have children. However, in something like 35-40% of cases the problem lies with the male and not the female.

Lower concentration and lower sperm count
In this latest study, a group of 701 Danish men who were around 20 years old and undergoing medical checks for the military, were asked about their diet and had their sperm counts checked. Those with a diet higher in saturated fats had a 38% lower concentration of sperm. 41% of members within this group also had a lower sperm count. The results were still higher than the World Health Organization’s definition of what would constitute male infertility problems. which is over 15 million per milliliter of semen. However, if the link between a fatty diet and sperm can be made it is a trend worth taking note of.

Exercise and diet for faster sperm?
Lifestyle does seem to impact the quality and amount of sperm, with one study suggesting fruit can make sperm faster and other research looking at how exercise might help sperm get to where they want to go in a quicker way too. Other research has looked at how grains might result in not just a higher concentration of sperm but greater spontaneous and active movement too.

Sperm count dropping?
More research is needed to really see not only what diet, nutrition and exercise links exist when it comes to sperm levels and how ‘fit’ they are. It would also be useful to understand if results can be reversed, sped up or enhanced with more exercise and a better diet. Whatever the reasons there is evidence that sperm count across the world is steadily decreasing. A recent study in Scotland found that over 20 years sperm count had gone down by 25%. In France, one study between 1989 and 2005 revealed an average of a 2% decrease each year from 74 million to 50 million sperm per milliliter.

Men’s magazines may highlight the beauty of having a buff body but exercise and diet could influence the possible future of a man’s genetic pool too. And for those men who already have kids or perhaps are not too worried about fathering offspring? Diet and exercise are still important too!

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