Trying to conceive is a joint effort between both you and your partner and it is important for you both to be trying to improve your health so that you have your best chance of being fertile. When the male partner takes steps to improve his fertility he will increase the potency of his sperm, so you have a better likelihood of getting pregnant.
Combined with efforts by the female partner to improve her health as well, you will be much more likely to have an exciting baby announcement for friends and family in the near future. So what can men do to increase their fertility? The key is to avoid the environmental factors that decrease fertility in men, while doing things that will increase the health and potency of his sperm.
If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to male fertility, here are some tips that will help to boost the health of his little swimmers:
Keeping the Temperature Cool ‘Down There’
When a man’s body temperatures rises and the testes get too hot, this lowers the number and the quality of his sperm. So, when you are trying to conceive your man should avoid steam rooms, hot tubs and saunas. If he frequents hot tubs and saunas at the moment don’t worry, the damage isn’t permanent. Reduced sperm counts caused by temperatures are only temporary and they could return to normal within a few months once the man stops going to saunas or hot tubs.
Also, research has shown that when a guy places a laptop computer directly on his lap this will increase the temperature of his scrotum and interfere with sperm production. Make sure that if he is working on a laptop the computer is placed on a table or desk instead of directly on his lap.
Wearing Less Constructive Underwear
Make the switch to boxers rather than the “tighty whitey” briefs. They will allow the testicles to be more free which will increase blood flow to the area. Also, they will let the balls hang rather than keeping them up close to the body, which will keep them at a more optimal temperature. The difference that this makes will be quite minimal, but when it comes to trying to conceive every little bit helps.
Smoking is disastrous for your health in so many ways, but many men don’t realise that their habit is also killing their fertility. Smoking is linked with reduced sperm quality and research has shown that men who smoke are more likely to have decreased sperm movement and low sperm counts. Smoking might also decrease the ability of the sperm to fertilise the female partner’s egg.
Plus, if these aren’t enough reasons to quit smoking – what about the fact that he is going to be a father? The effects of second hand smoke on children are incredibly harmful and parents have a responsibility to set a healthy example for them by not smoking. These are many smoking cessation support groups out there that can help you to beat the initial cravings and become totally smoke free.
Stress doesn’t just affect a woman’s fertility it interferes with the production of sperm too, so your guy should avoid getting overly stressed out. Make sure that he gets enough sleep and if there is a situation causing him stress in his day to day life, try to brainstorm solutions to deal with it or strategies to cope with it. Sometimes the stress of struggling to conceive can have the opposite of the desired effect, so it helps to reassure your man that you and him are in this together, that you love each other and that no matter what happens you will be committed to the relationship.
He might also want to try some relaxation exercises such as deep breathing and meditation. Giving your man a massage at the end of the day to help him relax will do wonders for his well being and make him healthier and more fertile. Encourage him to do things that help him to relax, such as watching his favourite shows, enjoying a hobby or chatting with his friends.
Losing Those Extra Pounds
According to research by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine1, being overweight or obese will affect a man’s sperm quality. Those extra pounds will reduce the sperm count and also decrease their ability to swim – as well as increasing the damage to the genetic material within the sperm.
Another recent study found that obese and overweight men were more likely to have low sperm counts or a lack of viable sperm, compared with men of normal weight2. Scientists believe that these issues are linked to the fact that too much body fat might cause changes in testosterone.
If your male partner has a few extra pounds, try to improve your diet and get more exercise so that he can begin to shed them and slim down. Being overweight is a factor that will decrease female fertility as well, so why not start on your healthy new routine together and encourage each other?
Consult with your healthcare provider about your weight and get a recommendation of whether you should lose weight before trying to conceive. Changing your lifestyle might be the best strategy, but if your BMI is greater than 40 the doctor might recommend that you get bariatric surgery.
Getting Regular Moderate Physical Activity
Physical exercise is great for men who are trying to conceive, because it helps them to reduce stress, benefits their health and improves their overall well being. However, the key is to not exercise too intensely. There have been studies that suggest men who have very intense training schedules such as marathon runners and triathletes actually have decreased levels of fertility.
Also, riding a bike isn’t the best choice for exercise because it involves sitting in a bike seat and experiencing a lot of bouncing and vibrations on the testicles. There was a study that revealed that men who rode a bike for more than five hours per week were more likely to have low sperm counts and poor sperm motility compared to men who did other forms of exercise or didn’t exercise3.
If a guy has a deficiency of vitamins A, C, D, E, B12, omega 3 fatty acid, folic acid, selenium or zinc this could interfere with the quality of his sperm. To improve his fertility he can make sure that he eats a nutritious and healthy diet and takes a multivitamin. Make sure that he is eating lots of fruits and vegetables so that he gets the nutrition that his body needs.
So what foods should he be eating to boost his fertility? Tomatoes are great because they contain lycopene, which is thought to significantly improve the motility of sperm and it’s structure. Mix tomatoes with olive oil, such as in a pasta sauce, as the antioxidants in the tomatoes are fat-soluble and the oil will help the body to absorb them.
Also, walnuts are great because they are high in omega 3 fatty acids and they help to improve sperm morphology and vitality. Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc, which plays a role in testosterone production and sperm development. Your guy should also be eating more lentils, as they are very rich in folic acid which is very important for male fertility as well as female fertility. Pomegranate is also considered a great food for those who are trying to conceive, as it improves blood circulation, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and lowers inflammation. Also, there has been research that shows pomegranate causes surges in testosterone, which improves sperm quality and increases sex drive.
Blueberries are also a wonderful source of powerful antioxidants and they can improve the quality and motility of the sperm. Eating all of these delicious healthy foods will give your partner the nutrients he needs for better reproductive health and because they are healthy foods they will also help him with the goal of losing weight.
Drinking More Water
One of the easiest and cheapest ways for your partner to improve the count and quality of his sperm is to drink enough water. It makes a lot of sense – semen is water based and the more your body is well hydrated the better the entire system will work. The increased liquid consumption will increase the ejaculate and improve the sperm production.
Of course, make sure that it is water that he is consuming and not more coffee or soft drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic and so coffee and soft drinks will actually make him more dehydrated over time.
Having Sex Frequently
There is a myth that goes around in fertility circles that you should make love less often and “save up” the sperm to increase your chances of conceiving, but this is false. Having frequent sex is actually better for increasing your chances of conceiving. If you don’t have sex for more than five days this can affect the sperm counts adversely4.
The frequency with the highest pregnancy rate is having sex daily. However, this might be a bit difficult when it comes to busy schedules, so try for at least every other day. Not only will this increase your chances of conceiving, it will bring you closer together as a couple when you bond in this intimate and physical way.
Being Careful With Which Lubricant You Use
Using lube is a great way to make sex more enjoyable, but you should make sure that the lubricant you are using isn’t decreasing the performance of the sperm. Some commercially available water-based lubricants, such as KY Jelly, Touch and Astroglide can actually inhibit the mobility of your sperm by 60-100%5. Natural lubricants such as coconut oil, peanut oil and canola oil can work so much better.
Avoid Exposure to Pesticides and Chemicals
Prolonged exposure to chemicals and pesticides can harm fertility in both men and women. Avoid exposure to pesticides, especially agricultural pesticides, as well as dry cleaning solvents, printing inks and more. If his job requires him to be exposed to toxins, make sure that the workplace provides the necessary protective equipment so that the risk is reduced as much as possible.
Cutting Down on the Diet Drinks
There has been some research that has shown that aspartame, the artificial sweetener that is used in diet drinks, is linked with a lower sperm count. It doesn’t just bring down the count of the sperm, it can also damage the sperm’s DNA.
However, don’t just switch to the full sugar version. Ingesting too much sugar is not good for you and men who regularly consume a lot of soft drinks have been found to have lower sperm counts. Try to cut out the soft drinks and replace them with water, green tea or all natural fruit juices instead.
Reducing Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on fertility. Men should not drink more than the recommended limit of 14 unit per week. When a man drinks too much it will not only affect the quantity of the sperm it will also affect their quality.
Cutting down alcohol can be difficult, especially when it’s a well accepted part of your social life. Alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water or fruit juice and have a few nights of the week that are alcohol free. Try to switch up your weekend activities so that sometimes you go do active things outdoors rather than always ending up in the pub.
These are just a few of the ways that the male partner can improve his fertility in order to help conception become more likely. With a few healthy lifestyle changes, your partner can give his fertility a boost so that you can look forward to making the exciting announcement to your friends and family that you are expecting!
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Weight and Fertility. http://www.asrm.org/factsheet_weight_and_fertility/ (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- LiveScience. Obese Men at Greater Risk for Infertility. http://www.livescience.com/36196-obese-men-greater-risk-infertility.html (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Fertility and Sterility. Physical Activity and Semen Quality Among Men Attending an Infertility Clinic. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(10)02776-7/abstract?cc=y= (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- WebMD. 8 Ways To Boost Your Fertility. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/8-ways-to-boost-your-fertility?page=3 (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Pregnany Info. Lubricants. http://www.pregnancy-info.net/the-right-stuff.html (Accessed April 2016) ↩