Male Fertility and Estrogenics

Originally written by Marilyn Shannon

For far too long, male fertility has been overlooked. Yet when it comes to fertility, the man’s reproductive function is equally as important as the woman’s. While estimates vary, recent data suggest that about 40 percent of infertility is due to male factors. The spinoff of this new research not only will help many couples to achieve pregnancy, but it also offers insight into other reproductive problems that affect men, from sexual desire to prostate health. Male fertility has decreased more than 50% since 1973. This alarming statistic is often not widely reported, and researchers have not yet found a definitive reason for this drop.

Male fertility has decreased more than 50% since 1973.

One of the culprits of Male Infertility? Estrogenics

Estrogenics are chemicals that mimic estrogen. This wreaks havoc throughout the body–especially on the reproductive system. The worst part? Estrogenics are everywhere. They seep into our environment as well as our bodies. Here are a few suggestions to help.

Shop carefully.

There are many estrogenic ingredients in products in the US and Canada that are actually outlawed in other countries. They are products we use everyday. Soap, pest repellant, plastic and even food coloring can contain these compounds. But not all estrogenics are equal. Focus on limiting exposure to the worst compounds first. These include BPA or BPS in plastic, Red 3 or 40 in food, triclosan and APEs in soap and parabens in products with fragrances.

Avoid Certain Plants.

Avoid soy and flax, as they contain some of the most estrogenics in the plant family. Soy foods such as soy milk, soy nuts, and tofu contain weak estrogens called isoflavones. Eating significant amounts of such foods has been implicated in reduced sperm concentrations, according to Harvard School of Public Health researchers, who studied ninety-nine men who were the male members of infertile couples. Soy foods reduced sperm concentrations in a “dose-related” fashion. That is, higher soy food intake lowered sperm concentrations more, and men with the very highest intake of soy foods actually had 41 million fewer sperm per millimeter than men who did not use soy foods. The effect of soy foods on sperm concentrations was especially pronounced in overweight and obese men. Lavender and cannabis are similarly problematic. Limiting exposure is important but compensating with fertility-improving foods is important too.

Consume fertility-improving foods.

Consider consuming more walnuts and fish oil for fertility health. Walnuts are a significant source of alpha-linolenic acid, though flax or fish oil is a considerably richer source. About 5–10 grams (1-2 teaspoons) daily of fish oil, preferably cod liver oil, and/or 5-10 grams (1-2 teaspoon) of flax oil is my recommendation for male infertility. Cod liver oil and other fish oils have “ready-made” DHA and EPA. Supplemental vitamin E in the range of 400 IU protects fish oil and flax oil from oxidative damage, and is valuable to male fertility in itself.

Vitamin C (broccoli and kiwis) and folic acid (spinach and beans) are critical for healthy sperm development. Vitamin C is ten times more concentrated in semen than in blood, and testosterone production also depends on adequate vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant vitamin also plays a major role in preventing damage to the DNA of the sperm.

Stay fit and exercise.
Estrogenics are stored in body fat and promote weight gain. Staying active, exercising and eating whole foods combat the negative effects of estrogenic exposure. Overweight and especially obesity can reduce fertility in men. Losing weight is a challenge, but finding a diet and exercise plan that suits your lifestyle and attempting to lose at least a moderate amount of weight can improve the levels of male hormones. You of course will reap many other health benefits as well.

Drink filtered water.
Estrogenics enter our environment a hundred different ways. They plague our water system because they are flushed from human bodies and re-enter the environment. Drinking properly filtered water is a good strategy. One of the avoidable ways estrogenics enter the environments through the use of birth control. Do your part and limit exposure to what you can and demand better for ourselves and environment. Encourage companies and government to take appropriate action to protect yourself as best you can.

Sources: Estrogeneration by Anthony G. Jay and Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition (5th Ed) by Marilyn Shannon