Episode #54: Male Fertility Health
With Becca Romero
What you’ll learn in this episode
In this episode, we’ll dive into the crucial topic of male fertility because, after all, starting a family is a team sport! Just because you have PCOS doesn’t mean the dad-to-be can’t optimize his fertility too. Joining me to cover this important topic is special guest Becca Romero. What to expect and provide valuable insights on male reproductive health.
Becca Romero is a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist and founder of the online fertility nutrition clinic, Little Life Nutrition. Becca specializes in fertility and helps couples who are experiencing fertility challenges using the power of nutrition and lifestyle changes. While practicing at her local clinic in Chicago, Becca started to notice how after making positive diet and lifestyle changes her clients who were struggling to conceive were able to get a positive pregnancy test.
Working with women to improve fertility quickly became a passion of hers and her practice, Little Life Nutrition was born. Her goal is to help couples improve their fertility by improving their overall health so they can create the family they have always dreamed of.
Harmful Lifestyle Factors
We’ll explore the lifestyle factors that can negatively impact sperm count and quality. From environmental toxins to poor diet and habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, we’ll uncover the culprits that may be affecting your fertility. By understanding these factors you can optimize your reproductive health.
Improve Male Fertility
But it’s not all bad news! We’ll also share lifestyle factors that have been shown to improve sperm count and quality. From adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine to managing stress and getting enough sleep, you’ll discover actionable steps your partner can take to enhance fertility. Whether it’s incorporating specific nutrients into your diet or practicing stress reduction techniques, you will learn strategies to boost your chances of conception.
By tuning in to this episode, you’ll not only gain a deeper understanding of the importance of male fertility but also learn how to take proactive steps towards optimizing your reproductive health as a couple. Whether you’re on a journey to conceive or simply want to educate yourself about male fertility, this episode will equip you with valuable knowledge and practical advice.
Let’s Continue The Conversation
Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.
So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com
Let’s Continue The Conversation
Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.
So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com
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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here
We spend a lot of time here on the PCOS Repair podcast talking about female related fertility issues. But today I’m really excited to have a colleague here in the fertility space and today we’re going to be talking together about the male aspect of fertility and how you can assist your partner in boosting his fertility health and some really important things to consider along your fertility journey as a couple, as you become parents or as you grow your family and how you can get your partner involved in healthy living changes that are not only going to assist you and support you, but also optimize his form quality as you take on this fertility journey together. I’m super excited to welcome Becca Romero. She is a licensed dietitian and a certified nutrition specialist and the founder of an online fertility nutrition clinic, Little Life Nutrition. Becca specializes in fertility and helps couples who are experiencing fertility challenges using the power of nutrition and lifestyle changes. While practicing at her local clinic in Chicago, Becca started to notice how making a positive impact on diet and lifestyle helped her clients who were struggling to conceive so that they were able to get a positive pregnancy test. Working with couples to improve fertility quickly became a passion of hers and is how her practice, Little Life Nutrition, was born. Her goal is to help couples improve their fertility by improving their overall health so that they can create the family that they have always dreamed of. With that, help me welcome Becca Romero and let’s dive in.
You’re listening to the PCOS Repair podcast, where we explore the ins and outs of PCOS and how to repair the imbalances in your hormones naturally with a little medical help sprinkled in. Hi, I’m Ashlene Korcek and with many years of medical and personal experience with polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is my joy to watch women reverse their PCOS as they learn to nourish their body in a whole new way. With the power of our beliefs, our mindset, and our environment, and the understanding of our genetics, we can heal at the root cause.
Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast, where I’m super excited to have Becca here with me today. We’re going to shift gears a little bit and talk about the male factor fertility and things that we can do to help our partners optimize their fertility and sperm quality while we are going through our lifestyle adjustments or any medical treatments for fertility in regards to our hormone imbalance and so forth. Becca, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m very excited to have you here and have this conversation.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to speak on this topic because it’s something that’s not talked about enough, I believe.
I agree. Before we hit the record button, we were talking about sometimes, in fact, probably more frequently than we would like to admit, the focus gets put on the female. Especially if there’s a diagnosis of PCOS or endometriosis or fibroid or things that typically a female will go in and get worked up if there’s a problem getting pregnant and oftentimes, we don’t look at what we could do to optimize our male partner. Sometimes the doctor will ask them to come in and do a sperm analysis, but oftentimes not. Very little is talked about enough about what we can do to optimize the male side of fertility. So, Becca, you work a lot in the fertility department with lifestyle changes. Starting with a couple struggling to get pregnant, it’s been a couple of months, nothing’s happening. We’ve talked on other episodes of what we would do for a female, but what should we start considering for the male partner when it comes to trying to get pregnant when we’re struggling?
Yes, absolutely. That’s a great question. I think really we’re looking at the male partner and their overall health is super important. Like you said, oftentimes the male partner doesn’t get a full evaluation. This is something that I see a lot with my clients is the female has gone through extensive testing, but the doctor has never suggested that their partner get a sperm analysis or look at the state of their health at all. Sometimes they do, but oftentimes they don’t. I think it’s important to, even if you’re not having fertility struggles or if you are having fertility struggles, to just get a sperm analysis done just to see where you’re at baseline and see if there’s any improvements you can make. But we have to remember that making a baby is a team sport, and it’s not just the female that comes into play when we’re dealing with having a baby. The male partner’s sperm health has a big impact on the pregnancy outcome. There are a few studies that talk a little bit about how the sperm health can impact during the term and things of that nature. It’s very important to get a baseline of what sperm health looks like and there’s this concept going around in the fertility space. There’s a book called the Fifth Vital Sign that’s more geared towards women’s health and fertility. But I think that’s something to think about for men as well. So if the man’s health is not optimal, that can often mean that their sperm health isn’t optimal. Sperm health can be a vital sign, too, for the health of the man. Just getting that analysis and looking into what can be done to improve sperm quality and just getting a good idea of where we’re at there can be a good first step in thinking about, do you have an optimal diet and lifestyle already? And if the answer is no, then what can we do to help improve that diet and lifestyle, which will in turn improve the quality of the sperm?
In your experience, where is the best place for people to ask for that? Because I think sometimes as women, we see our family med that they actually probably could direct the couple better towards getting a sperm analysis. But if you’re talking to your OB GYN, they don’t work with men. How would you suggest as a female getting that information of where should your partner go to get a sperm analysis? Yeah.
That’s a great conversation to have. You can definitely have that conversation with your OB, gy, and say, I would really like my partner to get a sperm analysis. What is your suggestion? Or you can also, hopefully, your partner will have a general practitioner where they’re getting your lead physicals and can ask that doctor for… Sometimes the general practitioner will be able to order that test, but getting that suggestion or referral from your general practitioner, sometimes a urologist if you have urologist, but typically your general practitioner can help facilitate getting that testing done and there are a few at home tests that you can do. I don’t necessarily recommend them just because you want somebody to interpret the data for you and you don’t want to get that data and be confused on what the next steps are.
Exactly. I think sometimes it’s more comfortable to do that test in the comfort of your own home. Some offices will send the test home with you and then have you send it back in immediately. The shelf life on that type of test is short. Getting it to the lab, different locations of wherever you’re located in the world are going to have different options. That’s why we’re hedging a little bit but you should feel very comfortable asking any health practitioner where they would recommend getting started with asking or being referred to for that a test.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely not something to be shy about, just because it’s not suggested by your health care practitioner doesn’t mean you can’t advocate for yourself and ask for that test to be done.
100 %. Like Becca said, this is something that you’re going to want some interpretation for, you’re going to get a bunch of weird numbers and although there’s usually a reference range, you’re going to want someone who sees these regularly to give their input. Having your physician order it or having an expert physician in that, that’s what they specialize in, order it’s going to be very helpful for you. You get this test order, and I would recommend requesting this before your doctor starts you on any medications and so if you’re going in and they’re recommending something like Clomid or Letrozole, the other thing that I would highly recommend is if your doctor is recommending starting you on Clomid or Letrozole or some fertility type of medication. Prior to starting that, this is a really good time to advocate for where should your male partner get tested? Because while you may be ready, and we’ve talked about this in other episodes, but while you may be ready to go on an infertility medication, you’re going to go through side effects. There’s going to be things involved with that and if it was me, I would just want to make sure that everything was as good as it could be with my male partner prior to going down that path. Would you agree, Becca?
Absolutely, I would agree. That’s an amazing point because as a woman, you don’t want to go through having to take a medication or even a procedure before you know that the sperm isn’t impacting what the issue is. You don’t want to take any medications or go through something that you don’t have to go through before you can rule out that, like sperm quality isn’t an issue. It’s a really simple thing, too. When we think about fertility struggles that are female factor, there are a number of different reasons. You could be having struggles as a female, but with the male partner, it’s a little bit more straightforward. It’s like, we’ll look at the sperm and there’s a few different things we can do. It’s simple. Whereas, like, infertility testing for females can be a lot more expensive. There’s a lot more options or reasons why there might be an issue. It’s a very simple thing to look at to make sure we’re good to go in that department.
Your partner gets tested, things are pretty good, but maybe not great. Where do we start in optimizing from a lifestyle standpoint? What are some really big things that we would want to make sure? These don’t have to be lifelong, but during that phase of life where you’re trying to start a family or extend your family, what are some big things, Rebecca, that you would recommend men consider removing or focusing on as they try to optimize their fertility?
Yes, that’s a great question and bring up a good point because while implementing some of these things can be healthy and really focusing on your diet, just regardless of your fertility goals can improve your health, this is one of the most important times to really focus on your health and your nutrition and your lifestyle because that can have an impact on your future children and the quality of your sperm. Well, hopefully you will choose to implement some of these things just as overall healthy diet and lifestyle changes. This is the time that it’s most important to do so. I typically recommend if you can do this, if you can really focus on your diet and lifestyle for a little longer, that’s great. But it takes about three months or about 90 days for sperm to regenerate or to see a positive change in your sperm quality. Let’s say you do get that sperm analysis done and things are looking okay but not great like you said, we can have an impact on that sperm quality in about 90 days is what research typically shows. I think the first thing you really want to focus on is your diet and just getting in a healthy diet can have a major impact on sperm health. There are a lot of different nutrients in the foods that we’re incorporating that can have a positive effect on sperm quality. First of all, I like to suggest getting in a well round diet and not necessarily excluding any food groups. A lot of times when we think about going on a diet, we’re thinking about, should I do Keto? Should I do paleo? Should I do some very specific diet? Which sometimes those diets tend to cut out specific food groups, but we really want to focus on getting a variety of different foods, getting a variety of different nutrients. Not necessarily the time to try any crazy crash diet or anything like that. It’s more about optimizing your nutrients and getting abundance of nutrients versus that restriction. I like to recommend just really focusing on getting a variety of different types of proteins, healthy fats, and different types of carbohydrates, focusing on mostly whole foods. What I mean by whole foods is we’re thinking of things that for the most part don’t come in a package that don’t have a nutrition label, or if they do have a nutrition label, they have single ingredient.
Let’s say we’re getting brown rice, for example, that’s going to come in a package most of the time. But if you look at the ingredients on that package, it’s just going to say brown rice. You’re going to understand what that is, where it came from, and it’s a single ingredient food. So really focusing on single ingredient foods, focusing on getting your foods from the perimeter of the grocery store. Those fruits and vegetables and vegetables, the butcher, things like that, and really just focusing on those single ingredient foods, whole foods versus processed foods, which would be something like when you look at the ingredients label, there’s going to be a lot of different ingredients in them. So let’s say a muffin, for example, you’re getting a muffin and it has flour and sugar and eggs and maybe some other fillers and things like that that you’re not necessarily sure where they came from. Really focusing on those more whole food ingredients versus those things that had to go through a processing to get to your plate, if that makes sense.
With the processed foods, I know for female fertility, I don’t spend as much time talking about male fertility, but do the additives, preservatives, and so forth. I know of some that affect sperm quality. Have you read any recent research that are showing them being problematic to sperm quality?
Yeah, I haven’t necessarily seen any recent research to say that they have a negative impact on sperm quality but those types of foods tend to just be less nutrient dense and don’t give you the biggest bang for your buck where they don’t have a lot of nutrition in them and so you’re maybe filling up on foods that are less nutritious and not necessarily getting in the vitamins and nutrients that you need and I’m sure maybe there are some studies that show some of those things having negative impact on sperm quality. Not sure of any recent research, but there are a few. I can touch on a few other things like pesticides and things of that nature that do have more recent research to show negative impact on sperm quality.
Right. And a lot of the packaged processed foods you’re going to find in your grocery store are going to have those in it because they’re not made with organic ingredients.
You bring up a really good point. It’s actually frightening. I paid attention a couple of times where we’re just busy or we’re traveling, what my family eats in a day and how much of the standard trying to be healthy on the go food has almost zero nutrients in it. When you go through and you’re like, Even a sandwich, I fit one piece of lettuce in there. There was maybe a little sandwich, meat, and cheese, and a tomato, but a very small amount of real food and a lot of it is just fillers when you look through the ingredients and not a lot of real high quality nutrients if you really added up the vitamins and antioxidants that you’re really getting in that a diet. On that note, what specific nutrients would you really point out as being important to make sure you’re getting? I know you want to get a well rounded, if you spent it well rounded, whole foods, lots of nourishment. It’s not about a specific diet, are there specific nutrients or antioxidants that you would recommend being as really important?
Absolutely. So there is some research on specific nutrients that have a positive impact on sperm quality, just to name a few. Vitamin C is really at the top there. Vitamin A, Phthalenium and Zinc are the ones that come to top of mind. So I know when we think about those nutrients, I’m sure we’ve all heard of those nutrients, but just thinking about foods that you can get in your diet that contain those nutrients. So vitamin C, we’re thinking about the classic examples like oranges, right? But thinking about whole foods versus something like an orange juice, just incorporating something like a whole orange. Red peppers are extremely high in vitamin C and strawberries, things like that. We think about that, we’re also thinking about foods that have a lot of color to them. So they’re bright, beautiful colors and vitamin A, we can get vitamin A from things like meats. So red meats are a good way to get to get vitamin A, anything that’s that yellow or orange in color, sweet potatoes, carrots, things of that nature with Selenium, really thinking about nuts and seeds, so Brazil nuts are a really good one there and then with zinc, oysters are an amazing source of zinc and nuts and seeds are also a really good source of zinc. Those are some just foods to mention, to really think about starting to incorporate in your diet. But you mentioned antioxidants. So I think this is something, a really important thing to talk about and something that’s really important to incorporate. With antioxidants, I know that’s a word we might hear a lot when you read things online about diet. Antioxidants are really great for our health. What are some foods that incorporate antioxidants? Antioxidants, we might think of red wine and things like that. When we think of antioxidants, that’s not necessarily the thing we want to go for when we’re trying to conceive or thinking about sperm health. With antioxidants, we want to think about anything that has a bright and beautiful color. I know I mentioned with the vitamin C-rich foods, those are all beautifully colored orange and yellow and red colors. Any fruit, vegetable, or even a food that has a bright color to it is typically going to contain some level of antioxidants. A good way to put that into practice, something I like to tell my clients is whenever you’re having a meal, make sure you are incorporating something that has a bright color to it.
You are mentioning with your sandwich, sometimes when we’re busy, we’re going for convenience foods and things like that and if we look at the breakdown of what your meal is, let’s say you have a sandwich with some meat on there, and you said maybe you like a lettuce or tomato or something like that, the bread is this white color, the meat is more like a brown color. Those have a place in our diet, but we’re really missing those antioxidants there. So maybe thinking about adding a side of blackberries or something like that just to get that bright color and another way to think about antioxidants and what they can do is things that when you cut them up and put them on the counter, they’re not going to go brown really quickly. So another good example I like to use is while a banana is a healthy food and it’s a fruit and something we can incorporate into our diet that’s going to be beneficial. It’s not necessarily something that’s super high in antioxidants. So if we compare a banana to something like a strawberry, so let’s say we take our banana, peel it, cut it up, put it on the counter, and then forget about it for maybe 10 minutes and come back, we might see that banana start to become brown and that is a sign of oxidation. When we think about the term antioxidant, we’re thinking about something that’s against oxidation and so when we have a fruit or a vegetable or food that’s bright in color and it can sit out on the counter for a little while and not necessarily change its color, look brown in any way, that’s a food that we can consider to be high in antioxidants and that’s something that can fight any damage going on in the body and can help protect sperm from being damaged in any way from any type of environmental oxidation or environmental stress or stress from our diet, things of that nature.
That’s a really good segue into what are some of the things that, like oxidative stresses, that can have a very negative impact on male fertility?
Thinking about diet, things that can cause oxidative stress are alcohol intake. That’s something that I think is really important to look at when you’re thinking about conceiving is, are you somebody who’s drinking alcohol on a regular basis? How can we cut that back? That’s something that can cause oxidative stress in the body. Having alcohol is definitely a big one. Another cause of oxidative stress in the body is something called excess omega 6 fatty acid. This would come from oils that were used in cooking or even transfats, things of that nature. Oils that are processed at a high heat can be inflammatory for the body and can cause oxidative stress. We’re thinking about fried foods, things of that nature. When you think about how a french fry is made, it’s typically heated at a really high heat with oil, that heating process can definitely cause those oils to become damaged and can cause that oxidative stress in your body. So that’s something to think about, like limiting fried foods and foods with oils that are heated at extremely high heat and typically fried foods are the biggest offender there.
What question with that? There are certain types of oils that are typically less healthy and then ones that are typically more healthy and there are some that you can have that you can heat a little bit higher than others. What are some of the ones that would be the most healthy for men to be cooking with during a period of… Like you said, we want our general health to be good all the time. But if you’re trying to be extra careful during a 90 day period to really boost that sperm count and quality, what are some of the best oils to be cooking with during that period?
Great question. Oils that will have a higher smoke point, so they don’t oxidize at that higher heat. They still might if they get too hot. But typically, the ones that are safer to cook with are going to be things like avocado oil, coconut oil. I also really like to recommend butter for cooking because it’s delicious and it has the high smoke point and if you get a nice grass-fed high quality butter that’s going to have a lot of wonderful nutrients in there, too. And coconut oil, I’m not sure if I mentioned that one. Coconut oil. So the top ones I recommend, avocado oil, coconut oil, and butter for cooking at high heat at home are all great options.
And the problem is that when you eat out, they are not usually using these. They’re usually using some not great vegetable oil such as canola oil or something similar to that.
Right. Yes, absolutely. And that’s a great point, too. If you’re a family that eats out a lot, or if you’re going into the office, then you’re going out to eat with your coworkers every day, that’s something to think about is doing an analysis of how often are you eating out and typically, you’re not going to be getting the most high quality oils when you’re eating out. Even if you’re ordering a salad or something like that, that’s a great option. But typically, they’re using some of these oils that can be a little bit more inflammatory in dressings and things like that. Just doing an analysis of how often you’re eating out. You obviously want to go out and have meals out with friends and family and things like that, but just thinking about that in that time when you’re thinking about trying to conceive, trying to limit the amount of times that you’re going out to eat when possible because you just can’t necessarily control what type of oils they’re using. Typically that can eating out. There’s a lot of fried foods involved and things like that. So just doing a little analysis on that and making sure you’re not getting those inflammatory oils in places that you might not necessarily be thinking about.
Alright. So I had interrupted you on that side note, and you were talking about the different types of food related oxidative stresses and then we’ll get to the other oxidative stresses as well.
Yeah. Those oils are definitely one to look out for. Then another thing that I think is important to talk about is transfats. This is something that’s not as common as it used to be because there’s been a lot of regulations on artificial transfats. We used to be using a lot of like, I can’t believe it’s not butter and things of that nature, which I fortunately are less common these days because there’s been a lot of information that’s come out on how those things aren’t beneficial for our health. But it is important to read the ingredients on foods that you’re buying. A good example of this, I recently had actually a few clients bring this product to my attention. We talk a lot about making sure you’re getting adequate protein intake and things of that nature. There’s a tortilla that is a tortilla, it’s like tortilla is with added protein, and it sounds really healthy, but it’s more of a processed food. So when you really look at the ingredients, that has something called a hydrogenated oil in it, which is a trans fat and so that’s something that you want to look out for. Just if you are buying processed foods or foods in packages that may seem healthy because they have added spinach to them, or they have added protein to their tortillas and things of that nature, really want to do your research, look at the ingredients, and make sure that there’s not anything like transfats, which the code name for that is a hydrogenated oil. That’s something to look out for, something that can cause oxidative stress in the body as well and then I would say the last one is just making sure you’re avoiding high intake of sugar. Things like sodas, candies, things of that nature, things that have a really high sugar content are going to cause oxidative stress in the body as well.
Awesome. Outside of diet, what lifestyle adjustments or things to do and maybe start with things not to do, and then we’ll get to the things to do outside of diet for improving male factor fertility.
Absolutely. It’s really important to know some of the things that are part of your lifestyle that could have a negative impact on your fertility. The first one being tobacco use or smoking cigarettes, using e-cigarettes, things of that nature. That’s something going back to oxidative stress in the body. That’s something that can cause major oxidative stress in the body. There are numerous, numerous studies to show that tobacco use, smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes can cause sperm damage. That’s something that we truly, truly want to avoid in that period where you’re preparing for having a baby, trying to conceive. Tobacco use is definitely one of those things. On that same note is marijuana use as well. If your partner is smoking marijuana, that’s definitely something that can impact fertility. I know there’s a lot of medical uses for marijuana and things of that nature, but being mindful of the way that it’s being delivered into your body. Typically, that action of smoking is going to cause oxidative stress in the body. So marijuana use is definitely something to avoid in that period of trying to conceive.
You mentioned smoking it, but I believe also just consuming it in any form is probably…
Yes, consuming it in any form. It’s definitely going to be more harmful if it’s smoked. But just the use in general is something to avoid.
That one’s been known to have a definite impact on sperm. There’s not a lot of research on it yet because it’s all fairly new. Have you heard anything about the use of CBD? I have heard a.
Little bit about it. It seems mixed, the research. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything super glaringly obvious about it.
I haven’t heard a lot of… I mean, I don’t think there’s a lot of research on it because it’s a fairly new thing on the market that people are using in larger quantities and then there’s different applications of it, of course, how much would be absorbed if you’re using it topically versus taking it orally. My OBGyn, one of my best friends who’s an OBGyn, she has some significant concerns about it for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. But again, OBGyn, she doesn’t work with the men as much. So I didn’t know if you’d heard on that before.
That’s definitely something to look into and I think it’s just best to if you’re unsure, it’s best just to avoid and just because it’s not worth it. If there’s something where you have to question it, I think the overall general theme would be to just avoid it because you never know. If you find yourself questioning, is this safe? It’s probably best just to avoid it overall.
Well, I think that’s a good general rule is what we’re trying to say here is there’s a lot of these health lifestyle adjustments that would be amazing to do all the time. But during a time, especially if you had your sperm analysis show any sign of there may be some factor coming from the male side of not being able to conceive, taking at least 90 days and then even a little bit longer if it’s still taking a little bit longer to get pregnant. So maybe you would say, okay, my female partner is going to go on clomid or letrozole and let’s give this 90 days to see how far the male factor can get things really improved and optimized and then from there, hopefully, things move along quickly and you don’t have too long, but keep it at that optimal pace for a while. Then you don’t have to stay at maybe that aiming for perfection. We can’t live aiming for perfection, but if we do our best during this period of life, it can really decrease the stress of trying to conceive and I think that it can be something that can be really bonding in that we’re in this together as compared to it putting all of the weight on one person.
And a lot of these lifestyle changes that we’re talking about are equally beneficial for both partners, which is also nice. It’s not like you’re supposed to do this and then you’re supposed to do that, and there’s no crossover. They really crossover quite nicely.
On that line of things that you would be doing specifically in this window of time, you had mentioned before we hit record, a couple of things that aren’t necessarily unhealthy but you may want to avoid during this time of trying to conceive for the male partner.
Yes, absolutely. I think this is an important conversation to have because I don’t think it’s as well known as like, we know that smoking tobacco is probably not the best idea and smoking marijuana might not be the best idea but there are a few things that could be healthy otherwise in a period that you’re not trying to conceive. Some of those things incorporate heat. What we want to avoid for the male partner is having the scrotum being exposed to excess heat and that’s something that can cause sperm damage. Sperm are very delicate and if there is excess heat in that area, then that could be damaging to the sperm. Some of those things to think about are if you’re somebody who likes to use a hot tub, that is something that might not be the best idea when you’re trying to focus on your sperm health because that is increasing sperm temperature and that is something that can definitely damage sperm. Another thing is using sauna quite often. So if you’re somebody who likes to go to the gym and sit in the sauna after you work out, something to really try to avoid during that period, because again, that’s raising your whole body temperature, and that’s something we want to try to avoid. Another thing that we might not necessarily think of when it comes to increasing that temperature is using laptops. If you’re somebody who likes to sit on the couch and use your laptop, you have your computer on your lap and sometimes that computer can really heat up and cause an increased temperature in that area as well. So making sure you’re using a laptop desk or just putting it on the coffee table, something like that, making sure you’re not having that direct contact with laptops and then another thing, too, is just biking a lot is something that can cause increased scrotal temperature as well and compression in that area as well. So if you’re doing a lot of peloton riding and things like that, not something you need to completely avoid, but maybe something to not do every single day. That can definitely cause a little bit of damage as well.
Those are things where you could try to increase the airflow with fans, air-conditioned area that you’re in, more ventilated clothing, maybe less thick type of biking pants or shorts to help optimize that. But just things to keep in mind, especially… And you can take it into consideration with exactly what your specific analysis showed and to what degree you’re trying to improve things. Exercise is good, mix it up, maybe don’t do that one every day.
Don’t bike every day, things like that. And these are all like, like we mentioned, these are all healthy habits. Using a sauna can help increase sweating and detoxification. Biking is a healthy form of exercise, but just things we want to be aware of in this very delicate time.
I know sometimes weight becomes a conversation on the female side of fertility, and that can be a sensitive, frustrating topic, especially with PCOS. What about for the male side? Do you feel like being overweight or an unhealthy weight plays a part in male fertility?
Yes, absolutely. There are definitely some studies out there to show that obesity can definitely impact male fertility. Being at a higher weight than we would like, it can definitely impact your sperm health. It can definitely impact, like we were talking about, if you have excess body fat in your leg area, it can definitely increase temperatures and things of that nature as well. There are definitely some studies on that to show that an increased weight can have an impact on less from health in that way. But also just your overall health, if you are somebody who isn’t considered to be at a healthy weight, typically your overall health may be not the most optimal. I don’t think you need to lose mass amounts of weight to have a healthy lifestyle, but just really focusing on incorporating some of these healthy habits is something that can still have a positive impact on your weight and can also, as a side effect, help with that. I think focusing more on incorporating those healthy lifestyle factors and healthy diets and avoiding some of those things that cause oxidative stress that we talked about can have a positive side effect of losing a little bit of weight as well.
We said your biking wasn’t so great, but how would you say that fitness and workouts and exercising fits into male factor fertility?
Yeah, absolutely. Exercise is definitely something that can have a positive effect, it’s something that can just have an overall positive effect on our health. Having more of a sedentary lifestyle can have negative impacts on our health. We do want to incorporate regular exercise, too. Is that something that can help with maintaining a healthy weight and things of that nature? So regular exercise can definitely be helpful for an overall healthy body, healthy fertility, but we also don’t want to over-exercise. We want to incorporate a healthy, moderate amount of exercise, but something to consider too is over exercising sometimes can cause oxidative stress as well and that is something to consider, we don’t want to be over-exercising and making sure… If you are somebody that exercises a lot, making sure you’re staying nourished to refuel your body if you are doing a lot of exercise in general.
That’s a really good point. I think probably the average American or average person more and more as our societies get really busy are not necessarily over-exercising. There are definitely the few that are. So check in with your body if you’re getting overly fatigued or if you are constantly feeling like you’re needing to recover from a previous workout. But it’s really important to as we pull all this together, what I’m hearing you say is while fitness is important, while a healthy weight is important, we don’t want to go on a crazy, fast-paced increase in our exercise. We want to pace ourselves and gradually increase so that our body does it in a way that doesn’t stress ourselves out but we also don’t want to diet in a restrictive way because we want those nutrients and so while there’s a lot of talk right now in the diet industry of macro counting, I think, and I would like to know what your thoughts on this are, I think that that can be a really smart way to understand some of the food groups that you’re choosing. However, I think that with macro counting, a lot of people doing it on Instagram and what they’re showing in their meal plans include a lot of processed foods and they’re just focused on that nutrition label for their macros, meaning their protein and carbohydrate intake primarily and they’re not focusing on nutrients. Would you agree with that?
I would absolutely agree with that and that’s such a great point. It’s like there is this buzz around macro counting for weight loss and meeting your lean muscle mass goals and things of that nature and you can definitely achieve those things just by focusing on your macros. But is that really going to lead to the healthiest body? So if you’re not really focusing on more of those micronutrients as well, which is something that actually has the biggest impact on your sperm health is having those vitamins and minerals in your diet, that’s something you want to consider. If you’re having lots of protein, but it’s not necessarily a nutrient-dense protein, or if you’re hitting your carb goal, but it’s not necessarily a nutrient dense carb goal, you’re not going to really benefit your overall health and your sperm quality there. That’s something that, like you mentioned, if you’re just looking at nutrition labels and looking at those macronutrients and not necessarily those ingredients or what it actually contains and you could definitely hit macro goals, but you might not have the healthiest, most nutrient-dense diet.
That colorless sandwich that we were talking about might meet those macro goals, but you’re just out on all the nutrients. So I think it sounds like a lot of information, but basically what it boils down to is get moving at a healthy pace, increase slowly, don’t overstress your body, eat those whole foods and it doesn’t have to be massive changes. Small baby steps in this direction are going to make a big impact over 90 days.
Absolutely. Yeah. And even just really focusing on adding a color to each of your meals can have that big impact and like you said, I think the overall theme is, oftentimes when we think about maybe losing weight, or that can equal being healthy, it’s more about the things that you want to incorporate versus the things that you want to restrict and adding more abundance to your meals and hopefully that’s encouraging to people to know that you don’t have to to restrict certain… You don’t have to restrict your foods or your diet to make positive changes. It’s more about adding nutrients, adding healthy foods to what you’re already doing.
Exactly. Just like take back to that gray-colored sandwich, if you just can add some color to your plate, even if that’s what you normally grab on your lunch break, adding, like you said, bell peppers and other things that have some vibrant color, blackberries or things like that, if you can pack some of that to go with it, that’s making a good step in the right direction.
Is there anything else that you would feel is really important for our listeners today to hear about in order to optimize male fertility?
Yes. I think one thing that we haven’t mentioned yet that I think is important to touch on is, and this is something that I feel like is relatively new in this space, but there’s a lot of research about different nutrients that can help improve sperm quality and while it is recommended typically for women to start taking a prenatal before conceiving, or hopefully you’re doing it a little bit before you conceive, but to start taking a prenatal when you are pregnant, there are now something called a men’s prenatal. I think this is really fun and important because it’s more of that team aspect. You both have to do things to prepare for a pregnancy. It’s like that team sport that we’re talking about. Men can do things too to help improve their fertility and make sure they have optimal nutrient stores and so something that is an easy thing to implement while your partner is taking their prenatal, you can take a prenatal too as the male partner and those are typically supplements that are well researched to have those nutrients that are going to help to improve sperm quality and it’s just like an insurance policy. We definitely want you to focus on your diet first, but having a vitamin, almost like a multivitamin that is more targeted towards improving your sperm health can be a really simple and easy way to optimize your male fertility.
Awesome. I’m glad you mentioned that because I meant to ask about supplements. That’s awesome. Thank you for taking that out.
Any other things that we haven’t touched on yet that we need to make sure our listeners hear today?
I think we hit on a lot of them. I will say I know this is a lot of information and it can be helpful to have a resource to go to if you maybe want to help your partner better understand what they need to be doing to help optimize their fertility. There’s a wonderful book that I like to recommend called Fueling Male Fertility. It’s a very short and easy read and it’s broken down into very simple sections. It’s not like this overwhelming diet book or anything like that so I think that’s a really great resource to point to, if you’re looking to get more information, if this episode is something that really picked your interest and you want to learn more, I like to recommend that book to my clients because it’s a very easy read, easy to digest information. It’s just a great resource to have.
Wonderful. Thank you for sharing that and then you also have a resource that you are willing to share with the listeners today about the foundations of fertility. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And of course, I will put the links in the show notes so they can easily grab that.
Wonderful. Yes, I have on my website, I have a free guide that you can download, it’s called the Fertility Foundations Diet Guide. It will put on a lot of the things we talked about today, different whole foods to incorporate an example of what a healthy fertility plate can look like for you and your partner. So it’s really relevant there. So it’s called the Fertility Foundations Diet Guide, and you can get that on my website.
Perfect, and I’ll link to it so they can easily find that and then where can listeners find you on social media if they want to connect with you or learn more about what you do and more about how to optimize both female and male fertility?
Yeah, wonderful. I own an online nutrition business called Little Life Nutrition. That’s my website is littlelifenutrition.com, my Instagram handle is just @littlelifenutrition. So if you want to connect with me, you can send me a DM on Instagram, or you can also head to my website, or there’s a link to email me there on my website as well. So you can connect with me either on Instagram or via email.
Awesome. Thank you, Becca, so much for joining us today. This was a really fun episode on an entirely different topic than I’ve spent a lot of time on before here on the podcast. I really appreciate you coming and sharing all of your great information. I know it’s going to be of a lot of value to the listeners today.
Awesome. Thanks so much for having me. I had a lot of fun chatting with you. Thanks so much for having me.
Alright, until next time. Bye for now.
Did you know that studies of PCOS epigenetics have shown that our environment can either worsen or completely reverse our PCOS symptoms? I believe that although PCOS makes us sensitive to our environment, it also makes us powerful. When we learn what our body needs and commit to providing those needs, not only do we gain back our health, but we grow in power just by showing up for ourselves. This is why I’ve created a guide for you to get started. My PCOS fertility meal guide can be found in the show notes below. I want to show you how to create an environment that promotes healing while still being able to live a life that you enjoy. This guide is completely free, so go get your copy now so that you can step into the vision that you have for your life and for your health.
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