Healthy Body

Do Dads-To-Be Need To Take Prenatal Vitamins? Here’s What You Need To Know

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/Oliver Rossi
For mothers who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, prenatal vitamins are an integral element 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 considering that it takes two to tango (aka an egg needs a sperm for fertilization), new intel suggests that fathers who are trying to conceive may benefit from some prenatal vitamins of their own.

"The rationale for recommending a male-engineered prenatal vitamin is that there is an abundance of data that abnormal sperm are typically produced in an inflammatory environment in the testicle," says Brian Levine, MD, MS, FACOG, a fertility specialist who serves as a medical advisor to Perelel, a new-to-market prenatal supplement brand 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 highly susceptible to oxidative stress. "Bad sperm makes a bad environment, which begets more bad sperm and a worse environment," Dr. Levine says. "These sperm are then less likely to be able to achieve their goals of ultimately being successful in fertilizing an egg."

While it's rare that physicians prescribe prenatal vitamins to their male patients—because according to Allen Morgan, MD, a fertility specialist based in New Jersey, "most men in the reproductive age are mostly in good health"—he notes it may be advisable for those who have a low sperm count, poor motility, or too many abnormal shaped sperm cells. These issues, he explains, tend to be most common in those who smoke, drink excessively, or have poor diets.

"By taking a male prenatal vitamin that is completely focused on increasing the circulating levels of antioxidants in the body, the testicular microenvironment is "buffered" against having some bad sperm ruin it for all the other sperm being created," Dr. Levine says. In addition to helping to create a better environment for sperm to thrive in, dads-to-be taking a prenatal vitamin has the potential to offer other, non-fertility related benefits. "These elements have other benefits to the body and help slow down the aging process, improve immune function, skin, and blood vessel health," says Dr. Morgan.

So while most dads may not need a prenatal vitamin the way that moms do, it's worth checking with your doctor to see if integrating one into their routine is the right choice for your own individual journey to conception.

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