Gents, it’s time to talk about making babies
Whilst the focus on women’s reproductive health is rightly high, the pre-conception health of potential fathers is still sadly often ignored.
But with the current worldwide drop in sperm counts, the need for better understanding of how men can improve their reproductive health to help create healthier pregnancies and children is long overdue.
The good news is a team of researchers at the University of Adelaide has discovered that sperm health prior to conception can be modified in only a few weeks to improve chances of pregnancy and a healthy child.
“We discovered that male health at conception is transferred via sperm to their children and are further understanding how to use this knowledge to develop tests for risks and interventions for use in family planning and infertility treatments,” says Dr McPherson.
“Apart from finding that sperm health can be improved in a short timeframe, we also found a father’s weight at conception can influence the formation of a healthy child. And critically, we found that weight loss in males who are obese may not be required and may be bad for sperm health if not coupled with a nutritionally dense diet,” she says.
Their research was part of several national and global policies on childhood obesity and healthy lifestyle guidance. As part of the project, they helped develop an interactive ‘Healthy Conception Tool’ called Your Fertility, in collaboration with researchers at the Robinson Research Institute and the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTa). This tool is to help couples to understand what factors can affect their chance of conceiving and what they can do to improve the pre-conception health for both mother and father.
The reproductive health of men in their early 20s is also a predictor of life expectancy. So, the researchers are hoping promoting sperm health will also motivate young men to improve their own long-term health and in doing so, create a generation of healthier children.
Gentlemen, it’s over to you.
Dr Nicole McPherson
Senior Research Associate
Head of the Male Reproductive Life Course Research Group
Robinson Research Institute
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences