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How Men’s Damaged Sperm Could Play Significant Role in Recurrent Miscarriage

Repost from theconversation.com

It’s an unfortunate fact that one in four pregnancies will end in a miscarriage, typically within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In most cases, this will be a single, one-off event with the underlying biological cause unknown. However, around 1% of couples will suffer the agony that is recurrent miscarriage.

Recurrent miscarriage is typically defined as the loss of three or more pregnancies in a row. As the mother carries the pregnancy, the traditional belief has been that the underlying cause of miscarriage resides with her. But maternal factors such as hormone imbalance or an inability for the womb to support the pregnancy only account for about half of recurrent miscarriages. It’s clear, then, that other unknown factors apart from maternal health play a significant role in miscarriage risk. This lack of understanding has lead researchers to investigate whether the quality of a father’s sperm may be involved.

Healthy fathers, healthy sperm

Before becoming pregnant, many women will assess and modify their current lifestyle choices, for example drinking or smoking less, in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy. But the health of the father at the time of conception is one factor that is often overlooked. We now know that the quality of a man’s sperm is directly linked to his health.

Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, stress – and even the type of underpants he wears – can all affect the quality of a man’s sperm. One of the biggest factors affecting sperm quality is obesity. In many countries, while rates of obesity have been increasing, male fertility has been declining. Studies in both men and mice show that sperm from overweight males are less motile, are less likely to fertilise an egg and are less likely result in a healthy birth.

Sperm DNA fragmentation

The prime goal of sperm is to fertilise the egg and pass on the father’s genes to the next generation. It is therefore essential that the DNA contained within the sperm is not damaged or fragmented. Studies have shown that factors such as poor diet, being overweight, smoking, infection and pollution all increase how fragmented the DNA is within sperm. As sperm cannot repair their damaged DNA, high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation is viewed as a leading cause of infertility in men.

Researchers now believe that high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation are also linked with increased risk of miscarriage and a recent study demonstrated a link between sperm DNA fragmentation and recurrent miscarriage.

Researchers from Imperial College London studied the quality of sperm in men whose partners had suffered with recurrent miscarriage. They then compared those sperm with sperm from men whose partners had not experienced miscarriage. They saw that sperm DNA fragmentation levels were twice as high in men whose partners suffered with recurrent miscarriage than in the control group.

The researchers also found that the levels of a group of molecules called “reactive oxygen species” were four times higher in men with DNA damaged sperm. Reactive oxygen species are produced naturally by every cell, and small amounts are necessary for male reproduction. However, at higher concentrations, reactive oxygen species can damage sperm cells and their DNA.

Winner shows spunk, but trouble may be down the line. Piya Kunkayan/Shutterstock

The researchers also noted that the men whose partners suffered from recurrent miscarriage were also heavier than the control men as well as older. Recently, there has been a lot of interest in the relationship between a father’s age, the quality of his sperm and the health of his offspring. As men produce sperm throughout their lifetime, the belief has been that age does not affect a man’s fertility. However, recent studies have suggested that a father’s age at the time of conception might affect the health of his children.

Some studies have shown that for men over 40, there is an increased risk for miscarriage, rare birth defects, autism, schizophrenia and some types of cancer such as leukaemia. Studies in mice and humans also suggests that poor paternal diet (too much or too little) can influence the long-term health of offspring, increasing their chances of developing obesity, diabetes and/or heart disease.

The link between a male’s health and well-being of a male and the quality of his sperm is now well established. It is also becoming apparent that sperm quality influences a range of factors including a man’s fertility, the likelihood of him becoming a father and even the long-term health of his children. However, more research is needed to understand the links between the health of a father, the quality of his sperm and the well-being of his offspring.

Much of the fundamental research to date has been conducted in animals. As such, it is vital that we now establish whether the same effects are seen in humans. What is clear though is that both prospective parents in couples who intend on becoming parents should assess their current lifestyle habits to maximise their chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Additional Resources

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Ever wondered why men produce so much darn sperm, especially if only one of them will ultimately fertilize the egg? There are millions of sperm in normal ejaculate because it increases the likelihood that one will reach the egg and seal the deal. It begs the question, what exactly happens on the journey to the egg?

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

Men really do benefit from specialized nutrition in the form of a prenatal vitamin that’s formulated to support sperm health. Here’s what that looks like, and how specific nutrients can impact a man’s fertility health before fatherhood.

Read More

Shilajit is finally getting the credit it’s due, and we’re proud to point out that our proprietary formula was the very first to include this powerful Ayurvedic compound. Here’s why shilajit is rapidly becoming the darling of the male fertility world–and what you’re missing if you’re skipping it.

Read More

Ever wondered why men produce so much darn sperm, especially if only one of them will ultimately fertilize the egg? There are millions of sperm in normal ejaculate because it increases the likelihood that one will reach the egg and seal the deal. It begs the question, what exactly happens on the journey to the egg?

Read More

Just as women’s bodies need to be prepared for pregnancy, men’s bodies need to be ready to contribute healthy sperm for conception. Nutrients are the foundation that support the normal structure and function of sperm and men's fertility health. Taking Beli’s male prenatal supplement is a proactive way to strategically fuel your body to optimize fertility contributing to your overall chances of conceiving and supporting a healthy pregnancy.  

Read More

A shot to the balls may be played for laughs on screen, but testicular impacts really aren’t a joke. Worse case scenario, getting hit in the balls can affect fertility thanks to complications like sexual dysfunction, low testosterone and other issues. Let's discuss.

Read More

With the New Year upon us, there are all kinds of articles and videos making the rounds with predictions of the Zodiac signs most likely to get pregnant in 2024. But here at Beli, we take a much more scientific approach to conception. Here are the top eight things people will do to get pregnant in 2024.

Read More

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Read More

When it comes to becoming parents, good habits really will take you where you want to go. Now, new science is giving us insight into exactly how long it takes to form those good habits. We're breaking down all the ways you can build healthy habits to boost your chances of conception. Think of it as life-hacking, but for grown-ups.

Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

You’re clear on the mechanics of making a baby, but how much do you really know about conception and fertility? There are a lot of wild stories, downright falsehoods and notions that are actually rooted in a kernel of truth out there. In the interest of sticking to the facts, we’re debunking 15 of the most common myths about conception and fertility.

Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

Heard the one about ice baths and testosterone? Spoiler: there's little to no research behind that idea. Here’s what to know about cold plunges and male fertility, according to the research, plus where you should really focus your efforts if you’re trying to improve sperm health.

Read More

As a society, we’re an impatient bunch, and that applies to pregnancy, too. The second you decide it’s time to try for a baby, you’re ready to see those two pink lines. If you’ve recently tossed the birth control and you’re wondering how long it should take to get pregnant, here's what to know.

Read More

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Read More

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Read More

A few years ago, the keto diet was all the rage—a high-fat, low-carb way to shed pounds quickly. While it’s lost a bit of its luster, as all diet trends do, interest in the keto diet remains. Specifically, those hoping to become parents wonder whether following this way of eating could support fertility. Is a diet high in fat and low in carbs the answer? It’s possible. Here’s what to know about the keto diet and whether it might help support fertility.

Read More

When you’re pregnant, of course, you’re told to limit your caffeine consumption. But what about when you’re trying to conceive? Can too much caffeine affect your chances of conception as a couple? It's a good idea to cut back—which means you need to be really clear about sneaky sources of caffeine in your diet.

Read More

Here at Beli, we’re staunch advocates of supporting men's fertility health in anticipation of fatherhood. In fact, our men’s prenatal vitamin, Beli Vitality for Men, is actually our flagship product. Today, we’re diving into the obvious and unexpected benefits of prenatal vitamins for men, starting with what actually happens when you start taking them.

Read More

Forbes Health recently reviewed our men's prenatal vitamins and we love author Leigh Weingus' take: "Beli Men Vitality Multivitamins first caught my eye because while I often see supplements that claim to improve fertility outcomes for women, I rarely see the same thing for men." We hear you, Leigh! Check out the full review here and read on for some highlights.

Read More

Everyone responds to supplementation (not to mention pregnancy!) differently, which is one reason that how you feel isn’t a clue into whether or not your prenatal vitamin is actually working. Instead, you need to be confident about the prenatal vitamin itself, and there are a few things you’ll want to look for.

Read More

We’re back with our second post in our “It Starts With The Sperm” mini series on the key roles sperm plays in conception, pregnancy and baby, and this time, we’re talking DNA. When it comes to male fertility, it’s not enough to have a high sperm count and top marks for motility and morphology. Without low levels of DNA fragmentation, a man’s fertility—along with his ability to successfully conceive with a partner—is affected.

Read More