Many people are aware that a woman’s age and health has a direct bearing on her chances of conceiving as well as her chances of successfully carrying the baby to full term. Yet, a growing body of new research also shows that the health of a man’s sperm can also directly impact the chances of miscarriage and may even influence fetal health.
Statistically one out of every four pregnancies will result in a miscarriage. This typically happens within the first 12-weeks of the pregnancy. For most couples, this is a rare, and perhaps even a once in a lifetime event. Unfortunately, around 1% of couples will suffer the emotional turmoil of recurrent miscarriages.
Defining A Recurrent Miscarriage
There can be a lot of emotions surrounding a single miscarriage, let alone multiple ones. Recurrent miscarriage is generally defined as three successive miscarriages in a row. With some of these cases, the issues are related to the female and some underlying medical condition, which makes it difficult for her womb to support a pregnancy. Yet, there are other factors that could be afoot, including the health, and quality of the male’s sperm.
The Link Between Male Health And Sperm Health
Women who intend to become pregnant often evaluate their lifestyle choices and make modifications to improve their health. The change often helps improve their chances of successfully conceiving as well as being able to carry the baby to full term. This might include quitting drinking and smoking, as well as losing weight and making better nutritional choices.
In the past, most men tended to take a more cavalier stance to conception. Yet now more and more research points to just how much a man’s health impact the quality of his sperm.
Bad lifestyle habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, chronic stress, inflammation issues, and smoking, can all affect the quality of a man’s sperm. At the same time, obesity has also been shown to be a major factor in sperm quality. Studies conducted on the international stage show that sperm from overweight males are less motile, which of course means that they are less likely to be able to fertilize an egg as well as being less likely result in a healthy birth.
Problems With DNA Fragmentation In Sperm
Sperm essentially has one purpose and that is to fertilize an egg. This passes on the father’s genes to the next generation. Successful conception relies on the DNA within the sperm to be healthy and not fragmented. Unfortunately, a wide range of studies has shown that lifestyle factors like poor diet, obesity, smoking, chronic infections, and exposure to pollution can cause fragments in the DNA carried within the structure of the sperm.
Continuing research shows that high levels of DNA fragmentation in sperm can also be linked with increased risk of miscarriage as well as recurrent miscarriage. One study performed in London, England noted that sperm DNA fragmentation levels were nearly twice as high in males with partners who struggled with recurrent miscarriage.
The study also found increased levels in Reactive Oxygen Species that were four times higher in men with damaged or DNA fragmented sperm. Normally low levels of Reactive Oxygen Species occur in nearly every cell in the body. Yet when they occur in higher concentration, they can damage the structure of sperm cells as well as their DNA.
Age Can Be A Factor In Sperm Health
It’s also worth noting that overweight older males were more likely to have partners struggling with recurrent miscarriage. Men are known to be able to produce sperm throughout their lives, and it was previously thought that age has little effect on a man’s fertility. Yet recent studies have revealed that a man’s age at the time of conception can potentially affect the health of his children.
There have been a few studies that show that men over the age of 40 are at increased risk for miscarriage, as well as children with rare birth defects, autism, and schizophrenia. In the sampled data there was also an increased risk for some types of cancer including leukemia.
Making Lifestyle Improvements
This is certainly an area of developing research, and the book is not closed yet! There seems to be enough correlation between a man’s health as well as his age, and the overall health of his sperm. While little can be done to turn back the hands of time, it seems that men also need to evaluate their lifestyle choices when attempting to become pregnant, the same as women.
Source – The Conversation