Coming Soon: A Spartan Race for Your Sperm

Coming Soon: A Spartan Race for Your Sperm
Presented by Spartan Training®

There’s a new take on the phrase “Spartan Fit!” on the horizon. Stanford researchers, publishing their work in Advanced Science, have engineered an obstacle course for sperm.

Utkan Demirci, PhD, a professor of radiology at Stanford and Erkan Tüzel, a professor of physics and biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic, senior authors of the study, have named the tech device “Simple Periodic ARray for Trapping And IsolatioN.” 

They refer to it by the acronym, “Spartan.”

As described by Josh Gabbatiss, Science Correspondent for The Independent, Spartan “consists of a tiny field of posts that sperm cells must swim through.”

The purpose of the technology is to assist in vitro fertilization by coordinating a selection process where the fastest and healthiest of the sperm are picked.

“Once they have emerged at the end of the 14 millimetre obstacle course, the fastest sperm are collected to be used in the IVF process,” Gabbatiss reported.

Spartan will be available in July of this year.

In the meantime, on top of a solid nutrition and exercise program, here are five low-tech action items you can use increase chances of getting pregnant.

1. Eat Organic

In a study conducted with a group of 325 women undergoing treatment for infertility, consumption of produce with high amounts of pesticide residue was correlated with a drop in fertility. Women who ate fruits and vegetables with low amounts of pesticide residue didn’t register a similar decrease. Researchers concluded “Dietary pesticide exposure within the range of typical human exposure may be associated with adverse reproductive consequences.”

As Harvard nutrition professor Jorge Chavarro (and an author of the study) told Time Magazine, “I am now more willing to buy organic apples than I was a few months ago.”  

2. Eat Oysters

This tip is for both men and women: As far as nutrients, it turns out that zinc has a bolt of power when it comes to getting pregnant.  According, zinc  “contributes to semen and testosterone production in men, and ovulation and fertility in women.” On the flip side, research indicates that zinc deficiencies can sap fertility. Experts say to make sure your intake is at least 15 mg per day. An oyster packs a solid 8 to 9 mg of zinc, so if you love oysters, you’ll be good to go.

3. Get in Shape

If you want to be a dad, but you’re packing the extra pounds, there’s a straightforward path to improving outcomes of a conception: Get fit.  Overweight guys tend to produce less sperm “or even no sperm at all.” The report, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, analyzed 14 studies. The results suggested that being overweight translated into an 11 percent likelihood of a lower sperm count and men were 39 percent more likely to have no sperm in the ejaculate.

4. Avoid Flame Retardants

Last year a study conducted in the Fertility Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed links between organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs) — used to make foam in a variety of products, from furniture to gym mats — and fertility in women.

More than 80% of the subjects tested positive for PFRs in their urine.  “On average, compared to women with lower concentrations of these metabolites, women with higher concentrations had a 10% reduced probability of successful fertilization, 31% reduced probability of implantation of the embryo, and a 41% and 38% decrease in clinical pregnancy (fetal heartbeat confirmed by ultrasound) and live birth.” (Researchers noted that to their knowledge yoga mats did not have flame retardants like you find in gym mats.)

5. Avoid Processed Meat

A cohort of 141 men in couples trying to get pregnant using ART (assisted reproductive technology) between 2007 and 2014 were monitored in regard to their meat consumption. The data collected indicated that while eating poultry significantly boosted results, processed meat had a negative effect on conventional in vitro fertilization.

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