WHAT IT IS: Male infertility is any condition that interferes with a man’s ability to get a woman pregnant.
YOU ARE AT INCREASED RISK IF YOU
• are overweight
• have an endocrine problem (such as diabetes mellitus, or a thyroid disorder or have a hypothalamic disorder)
• have had cancer, cryptorchidism, varicocele, physical groin injury, hydrocele, or the mumps
• have testicular factors, such as genetic defects on the Y chromosome and chromosomal abnormalities
• have posttesticular causes such as infection (for example, prostatitis), obstruction, retrograde ejaculation, or a hypospadia
• have oligospermia (you produce few sperm) or azoospermia (you produce no sperm)
• have asthenozoospermia (you produce a normal number of sperm but they have poor motility)
• have taken anabolic steroids, cimetidine, spironolactone, sulfasalazine, or nitrofurantoin as your medications
• have celiac disease
• experience impotence
FOODS TO INCREASE
• Lean beef, wheat germ, oysters, and dark-meat turkey. These foods all have zinc, and a zinc deficiency can cause a decreased sperm count. Men put on a zinc-restricted diet of less than five milligrams daily for up to forty weeks had a decreased sperm count, but this normalized within twelve months when they ate zinc-rich foods.
• Tomatoes and tomato-based foods, because of their lycopene content, in theory only. Thirty men were given thousand micrograms of lycopene supplements twice a day for three months. Two-thirds had increased sperm counts by the end of the study. Free oxygen radicals are a major cause of male infertility, and lycopene squelches free radicals.
• Foods high in vitamin C, in theory only. They increase sperm count and motility, perhaps by reducing oxidative stress. Infertile men given one thousand milligrams of vitamin C twice a day had their sperm counts increase by an average of over 125 percent.
• The Mediterranean diet. It improves impotence and erectile function in men with metabolic syndrome.
• Organic foods, so that you are not exposed to some synthetic chemical pesticides. Men who are exposed show damaged sperm and a prolonged time to first pregnancy.
FOODS TO AVOID
• Alcohol. It decreases sperm count and motility, and the more you drink, the more the count and motility decrease.
• Coffee. An Italian study showed that the more coffee men drank, the greater their risk of sperm that do not work. Even having just one cup a day has a negative effect.
• Mercury-containing fish (such as shark, swordfish, marlin, king mackerel, tilefish, or albacore tuna). In one study, mercury concentrations were found to be significantly higher (40 percent) in the hair of subfertile males, who had 4.5 parts per million, than fertile males, who had 3.9 parts per million. Vegans who had not eaten fish for the previous five years had only 0.38 parts per million.
TOP CHEFMD-APPROVED RECIPES
• Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Morsel Salad
• Sardine and Arugula Salad with Ratatouille
• Toasted Walnut and Creamy White Bean Pitas
WATER-COOLER FACT: Stress has been shown to decrease the quantity and motility of sperm—so meditate, do yoga, or relax with friends.