Updated: Apr 9, 2022
One of the really common questions I get asked is something along the lines of:
'if I am a girl, and my partner is keen to have a baby, but not at all keen to see a dietitian, or do any of the recommended ‘prep’ work before our IVF cycle - what can I easily add to the weekly grocery shopping, and onto the household menu that might have an impact on the sperm quality (and therefore on our results)”
and the answer?
Now obviously there is a whole lot behind this…
is a ‘good’ semen analysis actually indicative of a ‘GOOD’ semen sample? (no)
Is a ‘good’ or ‘average’ semen analysis enough to ensure ‘good’ fertilisation? (also no)
Once the eggs are fertilised, the sperm’s job is ‘done’ (also NO!)
Even though the semen analysis results come back 'normal' - there are there some things you can’t SEE in a semen analysis.... and those things can seriously impact results…
When we first look at the semen analysis, we're looking at 5 main factors:
Motility (and progressive motility)
(if you want to read more about semen analysis - head HERE )
The truth is that the ‘normal range’ for semen analysis has changed SIGNIFICANTLY over the last 20 years I’ve been looking at results... and even MORE over the last 40 years. The 'acceptable' ranges have dropped significantly, to the point that some have started to question whether the current ranges actually ARE fertile or not?
The thing is, as long as there are SOME sperm there, then there is the possibility of pregnancy, and it could happen next month... or it could take years. The fewer normally shaped, swimming sperm that are there, the longer it's likely to take....
So it stands to reason that if we can improve some of these parameters (concentration, motility and morphology), perhaps we can speed up the time to conception?
Then of course, there are aspects to a semen analysis that we can’t SEE, but that play a really important role in fertilisation and also in embryo development… (and, scarily, in childhood HEALTH!)
We know that embryo development after day 3 relies on the COMBINATION of the genetic material from both the egg and the sperm. Before this point, the genetics of the sperm aren't all that important and any problems prior to this are most likely to be attributed to the egg genetics (the embryo is relying solely on the information and energy supply of the egg up to day 3).
But after day 3, the genetics of the sperm become more important and if embryos stop developing at this stage, it could be due to Sperm DNA fragmentation - one of the aspects of sperm health we can't assess on a semen analysis...
And there are a LOT of things that could be contributing to this… a whole bunch that we really can’t have an impact on (like childhood testicular trauma, genetics and previous exposures to nasty chemicals), but a few that we CAN have an impact on… most of which start with DIET and LIFESTYLE!
It’s not rocket science - if your man loves a beer, smokes, eats lots of takeaways and processed foods and spends most of his day sitting down… well, none of that is going to have a good effect on his swimmers…
But if he leads a ‘generally’ healthy lifestyle, home cooked meals from fresh produce, plenty of water, a bit of movement each day and keeps the beers to the weekends (and doesn’t go crazy!) - all of that will have an effect on how those swimmers function (which is the bit we can’t see on a semen analysis)
And if you can easily add a handful of nuts each day - even BETTER!!
Want to talk more about your semen analysis and the things you can do to improve it? Head here to book a discovery call