Having previously known of several other lifestyle factors that are associated with male infertility like smoking, heavy marijuana use, alcohol intake, cocaine use, and exposure of the testes to heat, now the impact of diet on men’s reproductive potential is being analyzed. The amount and type of fat in the diet of men can affect the quality and concentration of sperm in their semen. Semen is an organic fluid, also known as ‘seminal fluid’ that contains spermatozoa or sperms. It is secreted by the gonads (sexual glands). In humans, seminal fluid contains several components besides spermatozoa: proteolytic and other enzymes as well as fructose are elements of seminal fluid which promote the survival of spermatozoa and provide a medium through which they can move or ‘swim.’
Semen quality is a measure of the ability of semen to accomplish fertilization. Thus, it is a measure of fertility in a man. It is the sperm in the semen that is the fertile component, and therefore semen quality involves both sperm quantity and sperm quality. The average volume of semen produced at ejaculation is 2 to 5ml. Volumes consistently less than 1.5ml (hypospermia) or more than 5.5ml (hyperspermia) are probably abnormal. A ‘normal’ sperm count means that the concentration of spermatozoa should be at least 20 million per ml, the total volume of semen should be at least 2ml and the total number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate should be at least 40 million. About 15 percent of couples are affected by infertility, and men’s health issues are actually responsible about 40 to 60 percent of the time.
If men make changes to their diets so as to reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat and increase their omega-3 intake, then this may not only improve their general health, but could improve their reproductive health too. Men who eat more omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in some fish and plant oils have higher concentrations of normal-shaped sperm in their semen samples. Sperm count and concentration is about 40 percent lower in men who consume 37 percent or more of their daily calories as fat or 13 percent or more if the calories consumed consist of saturated fat, compared to men with less fat intake. Also, men who have the most omega-3 fats in their diets have slightly more normal-shaped sperm than the men who eat the least.