What you need to know about prenatal vitamins for men

For mothers who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, prenatal vitamins are an integral part of their routine, so much so that, according to a 2017 survey conducted by The March of Dimes, 97 percent of pregnant Americans take prenatal vitamins. But given that it takes two to dance (an egg needs a sperm for fertilization), new information suggests that fathers trying to conceive may benefit from their own prenatal vitamins.

“The reason for the recommendation of a prenatal vitamin designed by a man is that there is an abundance of data indicating that abnormal sperm are usually produced in an inflammatory environment in the testis,” explains Brian Levine, MD, MS, FACOG, a fertility specialist who serves as a medical advisor to Perelel, a new brand of prenatal supplements on the market that offers a Men’s Multi Support Pack. When these suboptimal sperm are created, they generate a reactive oxygen species, which makes the other healthy sperm around them very sensitive to oxidative stress. “Bad sperm create a bad environment, which creates more bad sperm and a worse environment,” says Dr. Levine. “These sperm are then less likely to meet their goals of ultimately successfully fertilizing an egg.”

Although it is rare for doctors to prescribe prenatal vitamins to their male patients, because according to Allen Morgan, MD, a New Jersey-based fertility specialist, “Most men of childbearing age are mostly healthy” – he notes that this may be advisable for those with low sperm count, low motility or too many abnormally shaped sperm. These problems, he explains, tend to be more common in those who smoke, drink excessively, or eat poorly.

“By taking a male prenatal vitamin that completely focuses on increasing the circulating levels of antioxidants in the body, the testicular microenvironment is ‘buffered’ against the fact that some bad sperm ruin it for all the other sperm created,” explains Dr. Levine. In addition to helping create a better environment for sperm to develop, expectant dads taking a prenatal vitamin have the potential to offer other non-fertility benefits. “These elements have other benefits for the body and help slow the aging process, improve immune function, skin and blood vessel health,” says Dr. Morgan.

While most fathers don’t need a prenatal vitamin like moms do, it’s worth checking with your doctor to see if incorporating one into their routine is the right choice for your own individual journey to conception.

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Patricia J. Callender

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