top of page

Why a "Normal" sperm analysis isn't necessarily optimal for fertility...

When it comes to trying for a baby, majority of the emphasis is placed on the woman. Perhaps this is because the woman then goes on to carry the pregnancy so it's assumed she's the only one that needs to be in tip-top health! However the truth is that 50% of the fertility picture is male factor related. Not recognising this is a completely missed opportunity in optimising reproductive health and could be a crucial piece of the puzzle that speeds up your time to conception drastically.


The easiest way to see how your male partners sperm health is looking is to get a simple sperm analysis test completed (with your fertility specialist or your GP). Sometimes you are told nothing more than your result was normal, while other times you may get a more detailed report indicating key areas that could be improved e.g. sperm count, motility, morphology, etc.


While it's great to hear that your sperm analysis result is considered "normal", it's important to know that this doesn't always equate to optimized fertility. It's also important to consider what parameters are evaluated in a sperm analysis and what yours show, the importance of assessing DNA fragmentation, and how nutrition and lifestyle interventions can improve sperm health, even in cases of seemingly normal results.



Understanding "Normal" Sperm Analysis Results:


I recommend to all couples who are struggling to conceive to consider a sperm analysis test. It's a simple, free way to assess sperm health and helps us to pinpoint specific areas for improvement through nutrition. It also could save months and months of wondering why falling pregnant is taking so long if it does turn out to be male factor related infertility and something we could potentially fix quite easily through diet changes!


In New Zealand, sperm analysis results are typically assessed based on reference ranges established by local laboratories. While these reference ranges may vary slightly between labs, a "normal" sperm analysis result generally includes parameters such as sperm count, motility, morphology, and volume. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines "normal" parameters as a sperm count of at least 15 million sperm per milliliter, with at least 40% of sperm showing progressive motility.


Importance of Comprehensive Sperm Analysis:


While a "normal" sperm analysis result may meet the established reference ranges at your local lab, sperm health encompasses more than just meeting minimum criteria. Factors like DNA fragmentation, oxidative stress, and sperm vitality also play crucial roles in fertility and embryo development. DNA fragmentation, in particular, refers to damage to the DNA within sperm cells and is often overlooked in standard sperm analyses- so make sure to ask for this test to be completed too if you're considering a sperm analysis.


It's also important to know that sperm is very vulnerable to oxidative stress and your sperm analysis results can change drastically every 3 months depending on your diet and lifestyle. So if you get a "normal" sperm analysis back this isn't a licence to go and binge drink or indulge in weeks of unhealthy foods- this would all contribute to a rapid decline in your sperm health.



The Role of Nutrition and Lifestyle in Sperm Health:


Research has increasingly highlighted the impact of nutrition and lifestyle factors on sperm health and fertility outcomes. Even in cases where sperm analysis results fall within the "normal" range, adopting dietary and lifestyle interventions can significantly improve sperm quality and optimize fertility.


Here are some key dietary changes supported by research:

  1. Healthy Diet Patterns: Adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats has been associated with improved sperm parameters [1].

  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, has been linked to higher sperm count, motility, and morphology [2].

  3. Antioxidants: Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, selenium, and zinc play a crucial role in protecting sperm cells from oxidative damage. Studies have shown that supplementation with antioxidants can improve sperm quality and pregnancy rates [3].

  4. Limiting Alcohol and Caffeine: Excessive alcohol intake and caffeine consumption have been associated with decreased sperm quality and fertility [4].

  5. Paternal diet and mental health of future children: The impact of the male diet before conception can of course impact on our chance of pregnancy and time to conceive, but it can also influence the mental health of our future children. One study found that greater alcohol consumption in men preconception contributed to a higher risk of future children developing anxiety and depression. (5)


Summary:


If you've received a "normal" sperm analysis result then don't let this stop you from making effective, impactful changes to increase your chances of falling pregnant and experiencing a healthy pregnancy and future baby. Research shows that even with a "normal" sperm result, we can still improve sperm health further to propel your chances of conceiving faster through simple nutrition and lifestyle changes.


If you are wondering where to begin then make sure to download my FREE male fertility checklist. This outlines all the most impactful things that you could be doing to boost your chances of pregnancy through simple, evidence backed steps.


References:

  1. Salas-Huetos A, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. Dietary Patterns, Foods, Nutrients and Male Fertility Parameters: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies. Hum Reprod Update. 2017;23(4):371-389.

  2. Safarinejad MR, Hosseini SY, Dadkhah F, Asgari MA. Relationship of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids with Semen Characteristics, and Antioxidant Status of Spermatozoa: A Prospective Study of 90 Men. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2011;9:112.

  3. Tremellen K. Oxidative Stress and Male Infertility – A Clinical Perspective. Hum Reprod Update. 2008;14(3):243-258.

  4. Ricci E, Al Beitawi S, Cipriani S, et al. Semen Quality and Alcohol Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Reprod Biomed Online. 2017;34(1):38-47.

  5. PMID: 35087204


Comments


bottom of page