A Father's Health and Fertility; what we pass on to the next generation

This spring I took on another rite of passage as a parent; teaching my son how to ride a bike. I have been enjoying his company on the back of my bike for the past three years and have joyfully watched him master the balance bike but it was time to nudge him closer to being able to ride on his own. I have always enjoyed riding a bike and wanted to pass that skill on to him as soon as he was ready. As I have watched him develop over the past four years I think about what I would like to pass on to him and wonder what traits he has picked up through the genetics I have passed on.

During conception, the dna from the mother’s egg cell combines with the dna from the father’s sperm cell to produce a cell with its own unique dna. This cell then divides, replicating the dna, and continues to divide and replicate to produce a unique being. Contained within the dna strand are the genes that outline what type of cellular structures to make and the unique expression of genes determines which traits are expressed; whether the child will be tall, have blue eyes or brown, straight hair or curly, as well as many more variables. Not only are physical traits passed on but so too are traits that can affect the health and wellbeing of that child throughout its life. The genetic lineage then continues on through to the next generation and the next, with each generation being exposed to its own set of variables that could express or modify the traits expressed.

The father’s genetic lineage is passed on through the sperm. The cells that produce this sperm are constantly dividing during that father’s life and every time a cell divides, the DNA must be copied so that each cell produced are identical to that “parent cell”. However, the more times a cell divides and replicates, the greater the chances are for an error to occur. These replication errors in the DNA are termed mutations, and these mutations are then replicated with that cell’s next division. As men age, the number of mutations that are potentially passed on increase dramatically. At age 20, there are approximately 25 new mutations that have developed and by the age of 40, around 65 mutations. This is incredibly significant given that the average age for starting a family is now over 30 years of age, with urban settings having a higher percentage of couples aged 40 or older. Successful pregnancies of this age demographic have a higher incidence rate of integrating mutations into the dna of the offspring. This can be seen in the increased risk of complications during pregnancy (miscarriage, smaller birth weight, cleft palate) but may also go undetected during pregnancy and show up later in life as may be the case in mental health disorders, academic and learning difficulties, or fertility challenges such as lowered sperm parameters. As gloomy as this may sound, the positive news is that many of these mutations can be reduced and prevented through diet and lifestyle considerations, targeted vitamin supplementation, and avoidance of known environmental toxins. Mutations are less likely to occur when the body physiology is in an optimal state.

Having my son when I was 39 years of age, I am motivated by my desire to be a healthy participant in his development and want to share with him as many of the activities that brought me joy when I was younger and those that I continue to do today. This perspective shapes my clinical practice in that I focus on both the biological requirement of conception, namely the health of the sperm and the reproductive system, but also the broader goal of being a healthy father to share in their child’s life. The ultimate goal being that the health of this generation can be positively improved to shape the health of the next generation and that of the following generation, with the awareness about one’s health continuing to grow and evolve with each subsequent generation.

Over the next few blog posts, I will outline in further depth each of the following three main areas that we are trying to influence through treatment with acupuncture and Chinese medicine as well as some lifestyle suggestions that may help with each area.

  • Circulation and vascular issues affecting fertility, sperm production and reproductive organ functioning
  • The known environmental toxins that affect sperm and considerations for optimal sperm production
  • The effects of stress (both perceived and actual) on the reproductive system, hormone signalling and the body at large.


If you have questions regarding your unique health concerns, please email Harris directly at hfisher@elementscentre.ca or call the clinic 250-383-2626 to set up an initial appointment.


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