6 Tips to Boost Male Fertility
Robin Elise Weiss, Ph.D. | Feb 16, 2018
When it comes to making a baby, it takes two to tango. While it was long believed that the health of the female was the only factor in conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy, we now know the health of the man is crucial as well. However, one study showed that men were only able to correctly identify modifiable risk factors to their fertility less than half the time. This means it’s important to increase knowledge about how to protect male fertility. Read on to learn more.
How common is male infertility?
About 1 in 8 couples in the United States deal with infertility. About 20-30 percent of the cases of infertility are caused solely by male factors. In total, 50 percent of infertility cases have male-related causes. Therefore, the man’s role in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility is important. Having a healthy lifestyle can decrease your risks of struggling with infertility.
Making quality sperm
Most people know the basics of sperm production: Unlike women, who are born with all the eggs they will have in their lifetime, men produce new sperm constantly. This means that roughly every three months, all the sperm in a man’s body are completely replaced. This may be a good thing when considering exposures to chemicals or medications. Quality sperm mean that conception is not only more likely to occur, but that there may be fewer problems with things like miscarriage.
What are modifiable factors for male fertility?
Modifiable factors in male fertility are factors that you have at least some control over. These factors are usually related to your lifestyle, such as the type of exercise you do and for how long, your diet, and whether you are smoking or drinking. All these things will play a part in the quality of the sperm that you produce, along with your erectile function and libido.
Smoking and male fertility
Stop or reduce smoking to improve your sperm health. Smoking cigarettes has been shown to decrease the quality of the semen you produce. While it is common knowledge that there is a host of potentially negative outcomes from smoking or chewing tobacco, like cancer, lung disease, and more, it’s also important to know about the complications related to fertility. Smoking directly alters a man’s semen quality and the motility of the sperm.
Drinking and male fertility
Drinking alcohol can also cause problems with male fertility and sperm quality. Drinking and smoking together provide a one-two punch that alters almost every measurable factor with sperm. Some men say it is easy to decrease the amount they drink when preparing for pregnancy because their partner is also abstaining from alcohol, making it easier to do the same.
Exercise and male fertility
While it is not a surprise that exercise increases a person’s health, you may not know that exercising can also specifically improve the health of men’s sperm. In a study of sedentary and active adult males, the results showed the sperm of the physically fit men had better motility. Physically fit men also had healthier semen production overall. These factors help to improve your fertility.
Stress and male fertility
Everyone deals with stress at certain points in life. One study looked at the amount of sperm, the amount of mobile sperm, and the number of normal sperm in men in relation to their perceived stress, stressful life events, and work-related stress. The good news is that job-related stress did not appear to alter the quality of the sperm production. The not-so-great news is that stressful life events or perceived stress did. Modifying stress where possible can help.
Male obesity and fertility
While there is a genetic component to male obesity that should be considered when planning pregnancies, some studies say obesity may not be directly related to poor sperm quality. However, one study did show that when sperm from obese males was used in assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization, it resulted in pregnancy loss more often. Losing weight will help you achieve a healthy pregnancy and feel better overall.
Chronic illness and male fertility
There are numerous chronic illnesses that can affect the process of reproduction. One study showed that men who had infertility were more likely to have had a chronic disease. Some conditions, like type 1 or type 2 diabetes, can also alter the genetics of the baby and the quality of sperm. Some forms of chronic illnesses, like cystic fibrosis, may lead infertility. Getting chronic illnesses in check prior to trying to get pregnant is best.
Bottom line on male fertility
It is important to remember the big picture and to understand that the man’s part in fertility is not just a passive one, but one that can lead to a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby. The more small steps you take to improve your diet, to be sure your weight is a healthy one, and to avoid common things that may affect your sperm quality and quantity, the better off you and your partner will be.