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A man’s unhealthy lifestyle may also be responsible for a miscarriage

A surprising reason for poor sperm quality is regular intake of junk food that is high in trans fats.

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Last Updated: May 08, 2018, 10.47 AM IST|Original: May 08, 2018, 08.11 AM IST
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A man’s unhealthy lifestyle too can lead to his partner's pregnancy loss
By Dr Suhasini Inamdar

It is usually assumed that the health of the mother is the key reason behind any miscarriage, with maternal abnormalities in the eggs or the way the cell division occurred in the early stages of conception being the key issues behind miscarriages. However, we often fail to realise that the man’s health is as equally important as that of the woman.

Recent studies have found out that in case of recurrent miscarriages, the father is likely to have a high incidence of abnormal chromosomes in his sperm. Testing for sperm quality when other causes of miscarriages have been ruled out is becoming increasingly common in India, with unhealthy lifestyle among men being the key reason.

Sperm count, motility and the amount of cellular fluid in the sperm head are equally important factors to be considered for a healthy pregnancy, as are the factors associated with the mother.
A man’s unhealthy lifestyle too can lead to his partner's pregnancy loss

Below are some unhealthy lifestyle choices by men that can lead to low sperm quality. A combination of these factors causes greater damage than a single factor by itself.

- Excessive smoking can lead to poor sperm morphology.

- Men who drink alcohol heavily also have lower sperm motility and concentration.

- Excess coffee consumption can further lead to reduced sperm concentration and count.

- Men who eat red meat have lower implantation and resultant pregnancy rates as well.

- Not getting enough vitamin D and vitamin B12.
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A man’s unhealthy lifestyle too can lead to his partner's pregnancy loss

- A surprising reason for poor sperm quality is regular intake of junk food that is high in trans fats. Sperm quality, even in younger men, has been found to be affected by this. Poor diets leading to obesity and high BMI, over 25, is another cause for slower and lower concentration of sperm in men, as are weight-loss crash diets. The effect of obesity on infertility could cause changes in hormone levels and increased scrotal temperature. Men who have a higher BMI are likely to have poor quality 'fragmented' sperm, which causes an increased risk of miscarriage.

- When men abstain from sex and have infrequent ejaculation, there is low semen turnover, which can lead to oxidative stress. This means that the sperms stay in the body longer and, therefore, are exposed to reactive oxygen species, leukocytes or other toxic substances, which can damage them. Men, who ejaculate often, are seen to have better quality sperm than those who abstain completely from sex.
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A man’s unhealthy lifestyle too can lead to his partner's pregnancy loss

- Men leading a high-stress life usually have low libido and too much stress has a bad effect on the quality of sperm. Stress hormones like cortisol have a dampening effect on testosterone, causing lower production, which in turn lowers the quantity and quality of sperm. Chronic and long-term stress can cause problems to the motility of sperm and morphology

Fortunately, much of these lifestyle factors causing bad-quality sperm can actually be reversed by changing the lifestyle and adopting healthy practices.

- Avoid/reduce alcohol.

- Avoid nicotine, smoking and drug use. They damage the sperm DNA.

- Exercise regularly. You can also take up outdoor activities and recreational sports. This will have a manifold effect on your sperm quality. However, do not strain your body or over-exercise.
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A man’s unhealthy lifestyle too can lead to his partner's pregnancy loss
Excess body weight is dangerous for the heart. Keep an eye on weight as it elevates chances of getting high cholesterol levels, which may lead to diabetes, risk of artery disease, and blood pressure. Keep a check on BMI (Body Mass Index) and maintain it to optimal levels.

- Address your obesity and try for a BMI less than 24 by eating right and avoiding trans fats. Avoid crash diets, and try to inculcate a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fibre, vegetables and fruits.

- Consult a doctor and take regular vitamin supplements to help maintain a healthy body for about three months before planning pregnancy.

(The writer is a Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, Motherhood Hospital, Bengaluru)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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