In the last 3 decades, infertility has become a growing problem among both women and men with male infertility representing 40-50 percent of cases. This is supported by research which shows that sperm quality has dropped by 50 percent in the last 80 years. Another study revealed a major culprit affecting male fertility is pollutants found in our environment and in our food.
One British study looked at the effects of two common pollutants on the sperm of both men and dogs. One was a common plasticizer that is pervasive in our environment and the other was the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 which, though banned, is still abundant in our foods as well as the environment.
Many studies link pollutants to poor sperm quality
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the research connects the rise of industrialization with the decline of sperm quality. Low sperm count and poor sperm quality have been linked to benzenes, toluene, xylene, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, painting materials, and heavy metals.
Even if his mother is exposed to chemicals prior to his birth, a man can suffer from poor sperm quality. Environmental pollutants not only impact male fertility but also raise the risk of testicular cancer and skew male hormones. Chemicals called “endocrine disrupters” mimic human hormones – primarily the female hormone estrogen – and throw male hormones off balance.
Sugars and processed carbs impact male fertility
In addition to the industrial pollutants found in the environment, dietary pollutants can also threaten men’s fertility and cause hormone imbalances.
Eating foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates spikes blood sugar and insulin levels, triggering a man’s body to produce too much estrogen. This not only gives him more feminine characteristics but also impacts his fertility.
When men have high estrogen levels they often have high cholesterol and triglycerides, insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, and abdominal weight gain. They can also develop
“breasts” and “hips,” varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. Some can even experience hot flashes.
Other symptoms of high estrogen in men:
- Low libido
- Decrease or loss of morning erections, fullness of erections, and the ability to maintain erections
- Mental fatigue and poor concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Decrease in physical stamina
Poor essential fatty acid ratios (too much omega 6 fatty acids and not enough omega 3), gut infections, and poor liver detoxification can all contribute to estrogen dominance in men. However, this is most commonly triggered by the effects of eating a high-carbohydrate diet.
Consistently eating a diet that is high in starchy and sugary foods, such as sweets, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, soda, and sweet coffee drinks causes a man’s body to produce too much estrogen in an effort to lower high blood sugar.
Addressing excess estrogen in men
Unfortunately, applying testosterone gel is actually an ineffective way to address high estrogen when the body is pumping out aromatase. All of that additional testosterone will simply be converted into more estrogen. It can also cause testosterone resistance, which exacerbates the symptoms of low testosterone. It is better to get your hormone levels tested to get a clear picture of the mechanics of the imbalance. You can then determine the best course of action.
Functional medicine strategies for male infertility
It’s impossible to completely avoid all environmental pollutants, but you can minimize your exposure to help to protect your body. Replace toxic items in your home – including body care and house cleaning products – and in your diet with non-toxic alternatives. You can also help your body by supporting liver detoxification, antioxidant glutathione status, and stress management.
Ask my office for more information about using diet and lifestyle changes along with functional medicine therapies to support healthy male testosterone and fertility.