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The Father's Role in Fertility & a Healthy Pregnancy

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 2 views
by Jan Roberts B.Pharm (Hons) Dip. Clinical Nutrition

An easy conception, healthy, full term pregnancy, short straightforward labour, long term breast feeding relationship and a child free of any metabolic, immune, neurological or digestive disorders are now the exception rather than the rule with practitioners constantly required to treat the many and various faces of compromised reproduction. But whether dealing with infertility, recurrent miscarriage or preventing the birth of another child with a problem, the father’s role in promoting truly health reproduction is often overlooked!

While sperm health is only one of three factors (egg & womb being the other two) sperm are actually more vulnerable than eggs - they are smaller, more exposed and develop entirely within their present environment. Some studies indicate that as much as 75% of infertility may be due to the male, with men at least 50% responsible for the health of the baby and the pregnancy. More specifically, leukaemia, asthma, bronchial/respiratory issues and mental development/disease are all linked to the father. It has been demonstrated that there is a 10-fold increase in testicular cancer for offspring of men exposed to organic solvents and a higher rate of respiratory disease, including asthma, particularly associated with the father smoking before conception. Miscarriage rates are closely linked to health/morphology of sperm with a study carried out in Karolinska, Stockholm showing 14% abnormal sperm = 14% miscarriage, 43% abnormal = 83/84% miscarriage. Half the miscarriages in the study were due to the male.

Sperm abnormalities have a number of causes, with environmental factors high on the list. Australian Research Council’s Centre for Excellence in Bio-technology and Development is currently conducting research into effect of pollutants such as fertilisers, pesticides, cigarette smoke, medical drugs and organic solvents on declining male fertility rates, and the health of children (and grandchildren). Since men are more often in toxic occupations, professional advice must include compliance with all protective measures, perhaps even move to a safer work environment.

Both toxic exposure and infection have been associated with DNA fragmentation in sperm. Not apparent in standard semen analyses, a separate test, Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) is required to show DNA damage. TZI (Teratozoospermia Index) is a better gauge of overall health of total sperm population than percentage of perfect sperm. TZI, requiring specialist technology, gives average number of abnormalities per sperm. Aim for index < 1.6. If index >1.8 there is a significant increase in miscarriage risk and lower conception rate. Other potentially detrimental factors include exposure to heat and pressure e.g. wetsuits, saunas, spas, tight pants and bike riding.

Treatment for the prospective father should involve detoxifying liver herbs, methyl factors and robust antioxidant supplementation. Zinc, Selenium (both rich in semen to protect the sperm) CoQ10 and Lipoic Acid (also provide mitochondrial support for aging effects and motility). In addition to reducing environmental toxicity, the men’s part of the bargain includes an organic, wholefood diet, no alcohol caffeine or cigarettes, regular exercise, reduced stress and sex on a daily basis! While men may sometimes be reluctant to undertake preconception healthcare, the last recommendation usually gets them excited, along with the reminder that their commitment is undoubtedly the greatest gift they will ever give their children.

Jan Roberts B.Pharm (Hons) Dip. Clinical Nutrition
Platinum Health
PO Box 580 
Mosman NSW 2088
P: +612 8206 1828 F: +612 9280 0042 M: +61 421 598 371
Skype: janroberts