How to Optimize Sperm Health to Prepare for Fertility and IVF

If you and your partner have been trying to conceive without success for a while now, you’re not alone. The National Institutes of Health find that up to 15% of couples experience infertility after one year of trying to conceive. Infertility can be difficult, but seeking medical treatment for fertility is a hopeful step, one that is successful for most couples!

Whether your diagnosis is female-factor infertility, male-factor infertility, unexplained infertility, or a combination of factors contributed by both partners, strengthening your sperm health will play a vital role in increasing your chances of achieving successful conception.  

Sperm Quality

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Human Development estimates that only one in four men have optimal semen quality. The prevalence of less-than-optimal sperm is a good reason for all men to consider fertility health as a critical part of the pregnancy equation. 

There are many factors that can negatively impact sperm quality, and not all of them are in our control. However, recent studies have shown that significant improvement in sperm quality without medication is possible through key lifestyle and nutritional interventions. 

You may have several emotions as you prepare for, start, and complete an IVF cycle. Anxiety, sadness, optimism, and uncertainty are common. After all, IVF can take time, be physically demanding — and cost quite a bit — all for a chance at getting pregnant. It makes sense then, that the months leading up to your IVF cycle are very important for ensuring your body is healthy, strong, and fully prepared for this fairly intense medical process.

Read on for three science-backed strategies that can help to optimize sperm health (and, of course, work with your fertility doctor before making any big changes to your health and wellness routine). 

Here’s to your successful fertility treatment—and your future family!

When To Begin Optimizing Your Sperm Health

In short—start today! New sperm are born every day, and they have the best chance of maturing into healthy and effective cells inside a healthy parent environment. 

While some lifestyle interventions can take time to show results, the simple choices make each day can help you move closer to your goals of fatherhood and family. The evidence-based strategies described below, together with the fertility treatments your doctor recommends, can have powerfully positive results for your fertility. 

Whole-Foods Diet for a Healthy Weight 

Most of us already know that our habits of diet and weight are important factors of overall health. Now, new findings are causing doctors to counsel future fathers to manage weight with diet and exercise for the sake of the health of their offspring, too. 

Dietary interventions can vastly improve sperm quality measures for even the healthiest men. In one study, young healthy men who switched to a DASH diet, which includes whole grains, plenty of vegetables and fruits, quality meats and dairy, achieved significantly increased sperm counts and higher percentages of total motile sperm.

Men who are currently overweight or obese can benefit even more from switching to a high-quality, whole-foods diet. During the last several decades, a steady rise in average male body weight has coincided with a decline in overall male fertility. Researchers don’t think this is a coincidence: it’s likely that being overweight or obese contributes to male infertility. Being overweight affects male fertility by changing the endocrine system which regulates hormone production and sperm production. And male obesity is linked with an increase in systemic inflammation, causing an increase in reactive oxygen species that can fragment sperm DNA. The great news is that poor male fertility can be reversed by overweight and obese men who abandon the standard Western diet and adopt a whole-foods, plant-heavy diet such as the Mediterranean diet.

In study after study, men who enjoy higher-quality diets also have better semen quality. Making lifestyle changes is easier with a firm “why” in mind, and during fertility treatment, there’s no “why” more important than healing fertility health in order to welcome a little one.

Evidence-Based Vitamins for Sperm Support

For future fathers, nutritional deficiencies can put sperm health in jeopardy, increasing the risk of low sperm count, abnormal sperm morphology, low sperm motility, and even DNA damage. These markers of poor sperm health can lower your odds of successful conception during fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF. And even for couples who do conceive, poor sperm health can increase the likelihood of miscarriage and birth defects. 

The bright side is that nutrition is in your control, and science has your back!

Numerous studies have shown that when men who are struggling to conceive supplement with a combination of high-quality antioxidants, their sperm quality parameters improve, resulting in a successful pregnancy rate of up to 41% above couples in which the man does not supplement. 

Beli for Men is an innovative prenatal and preconception vitamin formulated with a laser-focus on fertility. Beli contains evidence-based levels of nutrients that can help raise sperm counts, improve sperm quality, and protect maturing sperm against DNA damage.

It’s common for fertility doctors to recommend a host of vitamins for sperm support, but it’s difficult to keep track of 10+ supplement bottles! Beli for Men keeps it simple with a single multivitamin. 

Two capsules of Beli for Men each day contain the nutrients needed to help:

  • Increase sperm count with vitamin B-12, CoQ10, l-taurine, and zinc
  • Protect sperm while they grow with selenium, zinc, CoQ10, l-carnitine, and active methylated folate
  • Improve sperm morphology with active methylated folate, vitamins B-6 C, D, E, l-arginine, and zinc
  • Increase sperm motility with vitamins C, D, CoQ10, n-acetyl-l-cysteine, and zinc

Beli for Men is also the only male prenatal to include shilajit, an all-natural, antioxidant-rich medicinal substance created by the slow decomposition of plants in mountain ranges such as the Himalayas and the Chilean Andes. Ayurvedic practitioners have long used shilajit to promote energy and stamina, mental clarity, and male virility and fertility. Western science confirms the effectiveness of shilajit for fertility support, too: Male infertility patients showed significant improvement in total sperm count and motility, along with an increase in serum testosterone, after taking shilajit for 90 days. 

Male fertility is a cycle of continuous regeneration. New sperm are created every day, and each new cell goes through a journey of around three months to prepare for conception. Nourishing your fertility health with the evidence-based nutrients your body needs can make a measurable difference in markers for sperm health like improving your sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology, and healing DNA fragmentation within the sperm. 

Start taking Beli for Men each day three months before starting fertility treatment, and rest assured that you’re providing your body with the micronutrients needed to fuel stronger sperm.

Ease Toxic Stress 

Chronic stress impacts almost everyone at some point, and its harmful effects hit men the hardest. For men, too much stress can cause high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Toxic stress also wreaks havoc on hormones, leading to reduced sperm quality and even infertility. When men experience stress over the long term, chronically elevated cortisol levels have a strong negative impact on testosterone levels. Studies show that spermatogenesis, the ability of the testes to create new sperm, is severely inhibited when testosterone secretion varies too much or dips too low. 

For your fertility’s sake, it’s time to take action to help you de-stress. Psychological stressors lurk everywhere, and fertility treatment is a particularly stressful time for many couples. The first step is to spot where stress shows up in your life. Take note of the situations where you’re extra irritable, or you notice your stress manifesting physically as a clenched jaw, elevated pulse, or upset digestion. Once you spot the stressor, you can find healthy outlets to help you cope.

The strategies you choose to help you manage stress can be simple, like taking a walk or jog when you feel stress coming on, or calling a trusted friend. Complementary alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, and mindfulness meditation have all been correlated with improved stress management, better sperm quality, and more favorable pregnancy outcomes for men going through fertility treatment. 

Every day that you move more, eat nutrient-rich whole foods, take your prenatal, and pause to ease your stress is a day that helps prepare your body to pass on a strong legacy. You’re going to be a great dad!

Additional Resources

Special thanks to Becca, a fertility dietitian at Little Life Nutrition, for today's post! Becca is passionate about helping moms and dads-to-be uncover the root cause of fertility challenges, using nutrition, lifestyle, and functional lab testing to optimize her clients' chance of getting pregnant — a true "no-stone-left-unturned" approach. Here, she shares five ways to boost fertility naturally.

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