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Oxidative Stress and Male Infertility: What You Should Know
With knowledge of how oxidative stress can contribute to male infertility, individuals can modify their lifestyles and seek out the medical help they need to reduce the fertility problems that are tied to oxidative stress.
March 8, 2021
Throughout daily life, there are biological and environmental factors that impact the health and well-being of humans. For prospective parents, it’s especially important to be aware of the different factors that can affect both male and female fertility.
Recently, researchers have found a connection between oxidative stress and male infertility. While understanding this relationship might seem complicated at first, the link between these two components isn’t difficult to understand.
Here’s what prospective parents should know about oxidative stress’ impact on male infertility.
The term “free radicals” means oxygen-containing molecules that have an uneven number of electrons. Because of this uneven number, these molecules are prone to reacting with other molecules and can cause large, chain chemical reactions in a person’s body. These reactions involving free radicals are called oxidation, and these can be beneficial or harmful to a person.
On the other hand, antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to give one of their electrons to a free radical, all while maintaining their own stability. Through this process of electron donation, free radicals become less reactive and stabilize.
Oxidative Stress: Risk Factors
Having free radicals in your body does not necessarily mean that you are at risk for the negative health effects of oxidative stress. In fact, all individuals naturally produce free radicals when exercising or experiencing inflammation.
However, individuals can be overexposed to free radicals that come from the environment. When trying to monitor oxidative stress, it is important to be aware of your exposure to these sources:
Excessive alcohol consumption
Foods high in fat and sugar
Oxidative Stress: Effects on the Body
While oxidation is a normal part of human body processes, oxidative stress is not. Rather, oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between antioxidant activity and free radical activity. If there are more free radicals present than antioxidants in the body, then this imbalance can occur.
As a result of this imbalance, free radicals can damage proteins, DNA, and fatty tissue in a person’s body. If this imbalance is prolonged, it can lead to other health issues, including:
High blood pressure
In addition to these issues, studies are finding that male fertility is also negatively impacted by the molecular imbalance that is part of oxidative stress.
How Oxidative Stress Affects Male Infertility
When thinking about factors that can lead to male infertility, oxidative stress might not immediately come to mind. Even though oxidative stress may not seem like an important element to consider when addressing male infertility, it can still significantly impact male reproductive functioning.
Free Radicals and Their Damage
The free radicals in a person’s body that are responsible for other adverse health effects are also responsible for damaging and inhibiting the typical processes of male reproductive systems.
This damage to sperm DNA, RNA transcripts, and telomeres not only results in male infertility but can also lead to recurrent pregnancy loss and poor pregnancy outcomes.
Ways to Manage and Prevent Oxidative Stress
If you’re a prospective parent, learning about the complications of oxidative stress might be troubling or intimidating. But there are ways that an individual can monitor and manage their oxidative stress to decrease their infertility issues.
Increasing Antioxidant Levels
The primary course of action to combat oxidative stress is to increase your levels of antioxidants. A simple way to ensure that you have enough antioxidants is by keeping an eye on your diet. Specifically, eating a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables is a great way to boost your antioxidant levels.
Here are some good foods to add to your diet to make sure you are receiving the appropriate amount of antioxidants:
Dark leafy greens
And green tea
Already eating these foods? Other lifestyle choices are also critical for reducing oxidative stress:
Being cautious with exposure to chemicals
Limiting alcohol consumption
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep
Through these simple lifestyle shifts and additions, prospective parents can help decrease their oxidative stress.
When trying to start a family, prospective parents have many things to consider. In the midst of a lot of fertility information, it is important to understand factors that might be contributing to infertility. With knowledge of how oxidative stress can contribute to male infertility, individuals can modify their lifestyles and seek out the medical help they need to reduce the fertility problems that are tied to oxidative stress.
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