Updated 4/21/17. This post contains affiliate links.
This post isn’t something that normally would have been on my radar, but when I found myself researching ways to boost my husband’s swimmer supply and the health of his swimmers, I wished there was a single post I could easily reference. When I didn’t find everything I was looking for in a stand-alone article, I decided to just write one!
Before I get into the list, here are a few things that are very important to know about swimmers:
- They typically regenerate in count on a 42-76-day cycle, so sometimes you may not notice a change in motility or morphology month-to-month because they could be from the same pool. I’ve heard to give three months between testing, just to be safe. We started paying attention to swimmer health two months before our first IUI.
- When collecting a sample for an analysis or IUI, the sample starts out thick and is supposed to thin out after 30 minutes. If it doesn’t, it could be a sign of low testosterone, dehydration, or an infection. When you go for your initial analysis, your doctor will bring up the consistency of the sample and if it’s normal or not.
- The concentration of swimmers increases on a 3-5-day cycle, so giving 3-5 days between intimacy is essential to keeping the count and motility in good standing for an IUI.
- 30-40% of couples who struggle to conceive have male factor infertility issues, including low count and motility.
Okay, so now that we have some basic information out of the way, here are some natural ways to increase his fertility, and why.
1. Drink lots of water
Dehydration can directly affect the thickness of the swimmer sample. This was one of the first things I researched when my husband was tested and the comment was made that his sample was not thinning out as it should. In terms of how much water is needed, I’ve heard that it’s recommended that men should take their body weight, divide it in half, and that number equals how many ounces of water are needed per day. So a man who weighs 160 lbs should be drinking 80 oz of water per day. To make it easy, here is a BPA-free, 24 oz water bottle option that has a dial on the top of it that you can turn each time you fill up the bottle.
2. Take a good multivitamin
Just like women should take their prenatals well before conceiving, men should take a good multivitamin for their swimmer health. There are many options out there, so just choose one that you find easy to swallow and easy to tolerate. I have found a lot of conflicting information on the different brands out there. I think the real key is to just find something you can tolerate and pair it with a good diet.
3. Avoid soy
Soy is a known hormone disruptor, so it’s very important to avoid it at all costs. This one is really hard for us because we LOVE edamame, and we don’t drink a lot of milk so soy milk has been an easy alternative in the past. Instead, we make sure we consume almond milk or coconut milk, and we leave the soy milk on the shelf. We try to consume edamame sparingly, even though it’s a favorite food of ours and a great source of protein. It’s just not worth it when babies are on the brain…
4. Avoid excess heat
A hot shower probably won’t hurt anything as long as it’s quick, but when trying to conceive, it’s best to avoid a hot tub at all costs. Extended periods of direct heat is detrimental to swimmer health and production.
5. Avoid free radicals
I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent on this one. Apparently, swimmers are extremely susceptible to damage caused by free radicals. I had to dig into what exactly free radicals are, but basically they are unstable molecules that cause damage, and lots of it when exposed to them consistently. Free radicals are in cigarette smoke, alcohol, air pollution, fried foods, processed foods, and pretty much anything that contains high amounts of bad fats and oils. While it can be tough to avoid air pollution, I’m so thankful we live out in the country where the air is cleaner in general (except during tobacco crop season when the tobacco barns are smoking – gag me). We make a point to avoid coming in contact with 2nd hand and 3rd hand smoke as much as possible. 3rd hand smoke is extremely toxic, so even if you don’t smoke but you hang around someone who does, keep in mind that their habit is still directly affecting you, even if they don’t smoke around you. That tar is on their clothes and in their hair – it’s going to transfer to you if they touch you. If they smoke in their house at ALL, and just don’t when you’re there, it’s still all over their furniture, the walls, their drapes, their blankets, their cabinets, everything. Just keep that in mind and avoid it if you’re serious about protecting swimmer health.
6. Let it hang
There just isn’t a graceful way to explain this one. Ladies, explain to your men that now is the time to toss out those tighty whities and opt for boxers. Men, you’re strangling your swimmers. They need a little freedom.
7. Maca Powder
I’ve talked about maca powder many times before and have even taken it over extended periods of time myself in the past. Many women know that maca is great for ovarian and uterine health, but for men, maca has been linked to improving swimmer volume, count and motility. This was a big one for us. I’ve also read some conflicting information online on whether or not it helps balance testosterone in men (low testosterone = a big cause of poor swimmer health). One study suggested there was no hormone changes in the men tested, and there are other articles online that suggest it does. Knowing that it is recommended for swimmer health across the board, we figured it can’t hurt. It is recommended that men take 1,000 to 3,000 mg of maca powder per day. My husband started out on 1,000 and worked up to 2,000.
This is an amino acid that increases blood flow. For women, it’s important for uterine health. For men, it’s important for the swimmers! It’s said to improve motility and overall swimmer health after 6-8 weeks of consuming. As previously mentioned, swimmers are on a 42-76-day regeneration cycle, so it makes sense to expect 6-8 weeks before seeing results. My husband took 1,000 mg.
9. Zinc & Selemium
I know these are technically two separate items, but I keep seeing them side-by-side in research and a lot of foods contain both. Zinc and selenium are the #1 and #2 items I come across when researching swimmer health. Apparently, they are both linked to improving the form, function and quality of swimmers. Zinc is already in a good men’s multivitamin and is easily found in foods, so I personally don’t think an extra supplement is necessary unless your doctor advises it. Some foods high in zinc and selenium include oysters (#1 – zinc), brazil nuts (#1 – selenium), shrimp/crab/lobster, beef, lamb, cashews, pumpkin seeds, turkey and mushrooms.
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important vitamin that helps keep swimmers from clumping together. Vitamin C in the body can be destroyed by smoking and overheating (remember #4?). Some foods that are high in natural vitamin C include strawberries, citrus, spinach, kiwi, and broccoli. Extra vitamin C is easy to get into your diet, but be careful. Too much vitamin C can also upset the stomach…
These are just the top 10 recommendations I came across after hours of researching. If you have something to add, please leave a comment and let me know.