Mediterranean Diet Linked to Improved Male Fertility, Study Suggests

by Ella

When couples face challenges in conceiving, the focus often turns to infertility specialists to identify potential issues. While the spotlight often shines on female factors, male infertility is a significant concern, accounting for approximately one-third of cases, according to Dr. Michelle Catenacci, an infertility specialist with the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago.

A recent study published in the journal “Food Science” reveals that adopting a Mediterranean diet could positively impact male fertility. The research suggests that this dietary approach led to improvements in sperm function and hormonal levels among study participants.


“We find around one-third of cases to be a predominantly male factor infertility,” said Dr. Michelle Catenacci, an infertility specialist with Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago.


The study specifically examined sperm DNA fragmentation, a factor that can influence conception outcomes. Men with higher levels of DNA breaks tend to have lower sperm quality, increasing the risk of infertility.


“It looked like sperm function improved and hormonal function improved for the men that follow that diet,” Catenacci said.


The Mediterranean diet, characterized by low-carb and mostly organic food choices, demonstrated a positive impact on sperm quality.

“It did look at, basically, the quality of the sperm, which did seem to have a good improvement. The next step is to look at how does that improvement help with pregnancy outcomes,” Catenacci said.

Christine Palumbo, a registered dietitian and nutritionist based in Naperville, emphasizes that the benefits of a Mediterranean diet extend beyond aiding men struggling with infertility.

“It reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer. It reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, reduces your risk of diabetes,” Palumbo said. “It reduces your blood pressure and, you know, maybe this is the biggest one of all, it increases your lifespan and your vitality.”

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and seasoning with herbs and spices. Following this diet involves daily intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, weekly inclusion of fish, poultry, legumes, and eggs, enjoyment of some dairy products, and limiting red meat and added sugars.

“I think it has a huge impact on our overall health,” Catenacci said.

Dr. Catenacci is now sharing these study findings with her male infertility patients, emphasizing the potential benefits of lifestyle changes for couples navigating fertility challenges.

“For couples who are on the fence on how much they want to change their lifestyle, we can see that there is evidence to show that sometimes these things can benefit them,” Catenacci said.



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