Here’s the question:  Is fat good or bad?  And, whatever it is, when it comes to…well, your sperm, are those microscopic wagging warriors affected by fat globules circulating in your system?

Why obesity affects your sperm

How does obesity affect sperm production?  We all know there are many overweight and obese fathers, but, in the medical field we are aware that there is compelling global evidence that a significant reduction in sperm counts appears to coincide with an almost tripling in the incidence of obesity in men.

Here are some facts:

  • Obesity is linked to problems with fertilization, decreased sperm counts and less consistently, decreases in sperm motility and morphology.
  • Obesity is associated with both high levels of insulin in the body and to diabetes. We know that high levels of insulin circulating in obese men indirectly result in lower testosterone levels.
  • Fat cells have special enzymes called aromatase that churn out estrogens. In men, too many fat cells means more estrogen production and this can disrupt how the brain communicates with the testicles.

While many overweight and obese men have normal semen parameters, many others do not.   I am invariably asked by these men “Is there anything I should be doing?”  The answer is straightforward:  Lose weight and improve your diet.

Tips for improving your sperm count:

  • Take a men’s daily vitamin. There are thousands of brands. No need to get extravagant. Just get a simple men’s daily vitamin.
  • Take extra vitamin C (500 mg a day). If anything this will help your immune system.
  • Commit to exercising 25-30 minutes a day at a rate/pace that gets you sweating.
  • Don’t expect to lose the weight immediately.
  • Do it with your partner…a lot! Not talking about sex here (although that will help too) but exercising with your partner will help encourage you both to lose weight.
  • Choose foods that promote health and are HIGH in protein (fish, vegetables, lean meats, chicken), LOW in refined/processed carbs, and RICH in unsaturated fatty oils (nuts, olives). There are many resources for great diet strategies: These are two books that I recommend my patients read.

Although it is not clear at what target weight or BMI the extra pounds start to affect your swimmers and ultimately, your fertility, losing weight can reverse these effects. If building a family is important to you, then consider checking your sperm (YO Home Test is great because you can monitor your results with your YO SCORE) especially if you and your partner have not conceived after 6 months of trying.