Here’s how supplements can support sperm health
True story: “male factor” (a.k.a., a sperm issue) is a contributing cause in about 35 to 50 percent of infertility cases. Also true: We rarely focus on the sperm side of the equation—especially when it comes to prenatal vitamins.
Unlike eggs, where only one matures per month, sperm is continuously being produced and replenished. Like, millions per ejaculate. That means that swimmers are very sensitive to stressors such as smoking, but thankfully, very receptive to the good stuff, too.
We know that more micronutrients in seminal fluid (think: zinc, selenium, DHA, folate and vitamins B12, C and E) means higher quality sperm. Unfortunately, modern diets often fall short, but that’s where a prenatal for men can play backup. Here, we break down four major ways that supplements can improve fertility for people with sperm.
It takes two to make a baby.
When it comes to conception, the sperm and egg play equally important roles—they each provide half of the DNA needed to make a baby. It takes about 75 days for sperm to mature (some studies suggest even more), and all vitamins and minerals are needed along the way for healthy swimmers. That’s why it’s a good idea for people with sperm to add a daily supplement to their routine three months before they start trying to conceive.
Sperm can use a little extra protection.
Sperm are teeny compared to eggs (the largest cell in the human body!), which makes them more vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies and toxicity. Toxins are everywhere in our environment (air pollution, pesticides and medications) and many are known to wreak havoc on sperm’s DNA. That’s where antioxidant supplementation comes in—it can help protect against this damage. For example, Vitamin C has been inked to improved sperm parameters and a decreased risk of birth defects.
You need well-rounded sperm for fertilization.
When we think of “healthy sperm,” there are a lot of measures on the scorecard. The key sperm parameters that play a role are how many (count), how they move (motility) and how they’re shaped (morphology). All of these are important for fertilization, and the right nutrients can help your swimmers reach their peak. For example, zinc’s concentration in the prostate, testicles and sperm cells is ultra high, but it’s a mineral that our bodies can’t produce or store. So, you’ll want to take a prenatal for men with zinc. It’s needed for testosterone production, testicular growth, sperm production, motility, semen volume and also reduces excess estrogen.
Miscarriage rates are linked to sperm health.
A 2019 study looked at couples with recurrent pregnancy loss and found that their sperm’s oxidative stress was four times higher than the control group’s, and that DNA fragmentation was two times higher. (A quick primer: Oxidative stress happens when your cells don’t have enough protection from unstable atoms called free radicals. This leads to DNA fragmentation, AKA the breakdown of genetic material—something a fertility clinic can help assess.) The good news is that antioxidants such as zinc, selenium, CoQ10 can all help lower oxidative stress and DNA fragmentation, and it’s easy to get your daily dose in a prenatal vitamin for men.
Want to get started? Get your daily dose of nutrients—including zinc, selenium, vitamin C and more—in The Essentials for Males and The Powers for Males. Take our quiz to find out which male prenatal vitamins are right for you.