It’s not only your eggs that matter when talking about fertility, but your partner’s sperm too. We were pleasantly surprised when we found research about nutrients that aid both female and male fertility.
Fertility – Nutrition for Egg and Sperm Health
If you and your partner have been planning to have a baby for a while, but you’re just not falling pregnant, you might start asking some questions about fertility. Are your eggs healthy, or are your partner’s swimmers up to the task? Falling pregnant is a 2-player game after all, so we’re tackling the problem on both sides.
Although we all (hopefully) know the basic mechanics of everything involved in falling pregnant, there are two key components to kick-off the process – the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm. The sperm needs to make the relatively long and arduous journey to the egg that is ripe and ready for fertilisation. The video below covers the whole fertilisation process in full detail at a cellular level magnification.
Fertility itself is an extremely broad and daunting topic to explore.For the purposes of this article we’re taking a look at two specific and prevalent aspects associated with fertility. One relates to future Mothers and the other to future Fathers for you to consider as a starting point, if you’re struggling to conceive.
Release the Egg
When trying to conceive, the first thing you might start paying closer attention to is your menstrual cycle and thereby your fertile time. Being in tune with your body can definitely help you to conceive, but sometimes that’s not enough.
You might assume that if you have a regular period it also means that you are ovulating during your cycle. But, this isn’t always true. Sometimes you might have what’s known as an anovulatory cycle, where you don’t actually ovulate (release an egg). During a menstrual cycle, the body goes through many complex hormonal changes in the lead-up to ovulation, when a mature egg (ovum) is released from the ovary. After ovulation, the empty egg follicle, now called a corpus luteum, produces the hormone progesterone – important during the early phase of a potential pregnancy.
But if conception doesn’t occur during that cycle, the corpus luteum starts to break down and it stops producing progesterone, which then consequently triggers the start of a period.
During an anovulatory cycle, a woman doesn’t ovulate – no egg is released. A woman who isn’t ovulating isn’t able to fall pregnant. Anovulatory cycles are a lot more prevalent than one might think, with an estimated 30% of female infertility cases being attributed to anovulation.
But Can They Swim?
The viability of your eggs during ovulation is just one half of the conception story. Your partner’s sperm still needs to make the arduous journey to the ovum before fertilisation can take place. “So what exactly does healthy sperm entail”, you might ask.
Sperm health depends on various factors, including quantity, movement and structure:
- Quantity: Your partner is most likely to be fertile if his ejaculate — the semen discharged in a single ejaculation — contains at least 15 million sperm per milliliter. Too little sperm in an ejaculation might make it more difficult to get pregnant because there are fewer candidates available to make it to the end of the journey and fertilize the egg.
- Movement: To reach and fertilize an egg, sperm needs to move a lot — wriggling and swimming (a process called motility) through a woman’s cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. Your partner is most likely to be fertile if at least 40% of his sperm are actively moving (high motility).
- Structure: Normal sperm have oval shaped heads with long tails – the perfect aerodynamic shape to propel them efficiently. This is referred to as the sperm morphology. While sperm quantity and movement are the most important factors of fertility, the healthier your partner’s sperm, including normal shape and structure the more likely he is to be fertile.
So How Can He Train Efficient Swimmers?
Unlike Olympic athletes, sperm cannot actually be trained to win the race. But they can be given a helping hand by maintaining basic healthy habits such as exercising regularly, managing stress levels in a hectic lifestyle and eating a healthy diet or topping things off with good supplementation where necessary.
If you and your partner are currently going through the emotional roller coaster of trying to conceive, we trust that this article has given you hope and new options to look at. We wish you well.