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Your heart’s gatekeeper: Can high cholesterol influence males’ ability to have children?

Written by: Natasha Edwards

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Time to read 8 min

 

All You Need To Know About Cholesterol And It's Impact On Male Fertility

1. What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is like a fatty building block found in our cells, mostly in the outer shell and other important parts. 


We have about 1.5 grams of it per kilogram of body weight, but some organs like the liver store more. It's different from other fats because it has a unique structure based on a steroid backbone


This backbone is also the foundation for many important things in our body, like bile acids that help digest fats, vitamin D3 and hormones like cortisol and aldosterone.


Cholesterol isn't water-soluble, meaning it doesn't mix with water, but it plays a crucial role in keeping our cells healthy and functioning properly.


According to the Health Survey for England, in 2021, the prevalence of raised total cholesterol was 59%.


High cholesterol, also known as hypercholesterolemia, is particularly concerning, as it increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease.


Moreover, high cholesterol tends to run in families, indicating a genetic component to this condition.


Having high cholesterol can also impact men's fertility and lower the sperm quality, making it a critical aspect of men's health to monitor and manage.


It's important to note that not all cholesterol is harmful. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often referred to as 'good cholesterol' because it helps remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the 'bad cholesterol', from the bloodstream.


Maintaining a balance between these two types of cholesterol is essential for overall health. If this balance is disrupted, especially if LDL levels are high and HDL levels are low, it can lead to high cholesterol.


This underscores the importance of regular cholesterol checks, particularly for older men who are more likely to have heart problems and high cholesterol.

Male Hormone Test

1.1. Should I eat less fats, if cholesterol is made out of fat?


One common misconception is that eating less fat reduces cholesterol levels. While it's true that a diet high in certain fats can increase harmful LDL cholesterol, it's not as simple as just reducing fat intake. It’s about the quality of the fats you consume.


The type of fat consumed matters significantly. Saturated fats and trans fats, often found in processed foods and red meats, can raise your LDL cholesterol levels. However, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like avocados, nuts, and certain oils, can actually help lower your LDL cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated and trans fats.


Studies have shown that the fibre from avocados can improve HDL cholesterol levels and the quality of LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, walnuts, which are rich in omega-3 fats, have been found to protect the heart and lower the risk of heart attack for people with heart disease.

 

1.2. How can I lower my cholesterol without drugs?


To lower cholesterol without drugs, it's crucial to adjust your diet. Reducing your intake of trans fats and saturated fats, can significantly lower your LDL cholesterol levels.


Instead, add more fruits and vegetables into your meals, which are rich in fibre and can help lower bad cholesterol.


Embrace polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from sources like plant oils, fatty fish, and nuts.

Swap refined grains for whole grains like brown rice and whole-wheat bread. Be mindful of hidden sugars and opt for healthier fats instead.


According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, increasing soluble fibre intake by 5 to 10 grams each day could result in a 5% drop in LDL cholesterol.


Finally, remember that managing weight can also help, so keep an eye on calorie intake as you make these changes. Small steps over time can lead to big improvements in your cholesterol levels and overall heart health.

Men's Health

1.3. Can I eat eggs if I have high cholesterol?


This is a common question, and the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.


While eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, with one large egg containing about 215-275 mg of cholesterol, research indicates that the cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood cholesterol levels than previously thought.


A study published in the National Library of Medicine found no significant link between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke in healthy individuals. However, another study did find a potential link between egg consumption and heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.


According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating eggs did not have a significant impact on the lipid profile of prediabetic participants.


So, what does this all mean for the average egg-lover? While research leans towards moderate egg consumption being generally safe for healthy individuals, it's important to consider personal health factors and consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

If you have concerns about cholesterol or pre-existing health conditions, discussing your specific situation with a doctor or registered dietitian can help you create a balanced and informed dietary approach.

2. Can cholesterol influence fertility?


Recent medical research has begun to investigate the potential impact of high cholesterol on fertility. Studies suggest that high LDL cholesterol levels may reduce semen quality and increase the time it takes for a couple to conceive.


Cholesterol aids in the creation of cell membranes, the production of many steroid hormones, and the synthesis of vitamin D. However, when cholesterol levels become imbalanced, particularly with an excess of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (bad cholesterol), can negatively impact hormone levels, specifically the maturation of the sperm, which can lead to fertility issues.


The male reproductive function is heavily dependent on cholesterol homeostasis, which is the balance of cholesterol levels in the body. Furthermore, sperm are rich in PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), which are necessary for healthy sperm production, increasing motility and improving the development of testes and spermatogenesis (the development of sperm within the testes). Therefore, maintaining cholesterol homeostasis is vital for optimal male reproductive function.


Scientists have recently discovered a potential link between chemerin, a protein produced by fat cells, and metabolic syndrome and heart function in people with obesity and diabetes.


While higher BMI levels often correlate with increased chemerin, studies surprisingly show an inverse association between chemerin and subfertility. This means individuals with lower levels of chemerin seem to experience higher rates of difficulty conceiving.

Further Readings

Are Gen Z Having Less SeX?

2.1. What are the types of infertility in males?


Male infertility can be categorised into a few main etiologies: endocrine or sperm transport dysfunction, testicular defects, or idiopathic (a disease with no identifiable cause) issues.


While multiple genetic, environmental, and behavioural factors are known to contribute to testicular dysfunction, a significant portion of cases (approximately 30%) remain idiopathic, lacking a definitive explanation.


Transport dysfunctions refer to physical or physiological issues that prevent the proper release of sperm. This could be due to obstructions in the sperm delivery routes, physical injury to the testicles, or surgeries in the testicular area.


For instance, a condition known as varicocele, which heats up the testicles and affects sperm quality, can be corrected through a minor surgical procedure.


On the other hand, unexplained disorders refer to cases where the cause of infertility is not immediately apparent. This could be due to factors such as oxidative stress, immunologic causes, or sperm dysfunction.


In some cases, even though the testes are producing sperm, it may not be released in the ejaculate due to blockages or the brain not stimulating the testes to make sperm. In such cases, advanced sperm technology can perform comprehensive sperm tests to detect the presence of sperm, potentially preventing the need for surgery to extract sperm.

2.2. Does cholesterol medication influence male fertility?


Statins, widely used for lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease, are a double-edged sword when it comes to male fertility.


Statins excel at their primary job – controlling cholesterol. They've also shown anti-inflammatory and heart-protective benefits that could indirectly support fertility.


Many men taking statins complain of side effects like muscle pain and weakness, which could extend to the reproductive system. Some studies suggest altered semen quality and hormonal changes.


The research on statins and fertility is mixed. While some studies raise concerns, others show a positive impact.


This discrepancy likely stems from differences in factors like patient age, medication dosage, and underlying health conditions.

2.3. Can high cholesterol impact male fertility?


A study by theNational Institutes of Health found that couples with high cholesterol took longer to conceive compared to those with healthy levels.


It was found thatcouples with both partners having high cholesterol took the longest to conceive and that couples with only thewoman having high cholesterol also took longer than those with normal levels.


While the exact mechanism isn't clear, researchers believe high cholesterol might affect hormone balance or blood flow, impacting factorscrucial for conception.


Another study found that there is a positive link between higher cholesterol and more active sperm in men. This is still being investigated, but it challenges our current understanding of cholesterol and its impact on fertility.

3. Dig deep into your cardiovascular health


Confused about your heart's health? Wondering if your diet and exercise efforts are truly making a difference? 


The OptimallyMe Cholesterol Test empowers you to dive deep into six crucial biomarkers, giving you a clear picture of your heart's well-being.


Uncertain about:


  • The impact of your lifestyle choices on your heart?

  • Managing your cholesterol, even with dedicated efforts?

  • Finding a convenient and painless way to track your health at home?


 


The OptimallyMe Cholesterol Test provides everything you need:


  • Test Your Essentials: Understand your cholesterol levels with a comprehensive panel, including Total Cholesterol, LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), HDL (the "good" cholesterol), Non-HDL Cholesterol, Chol:HDL, and Triglycerides.

  • Gain Powerful Insights: Uncover key data to manage your cholesterol and optimise your overall health.

  • Convenience at Your Fingertips: Enjoy a simple, at-home blood test with results delivered within 48 hours to a personalised, interactive AI dashboard.


 


Go beyond just a test:

  • OptimallyMe is your roadmap to understanding heart disease risks.

  • Get personalised advice to naturally lower your cholesterol.

  • Learn to make informed choices for long-term heart health.


 


This test is more than just a snapshot; it's a journey towards optimising your health and taking control of your heart's future.

Start your journey today with the OptimallyMe Cholesterol Test! Clickhere to have a look at it.

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