Getting pregnant: It definitely takes two to make a thing go right. And with an increase in health news revealing that men have plenty to do with the conception equation, many want to know which lifestyle factors can influence fertility.
Numerous couples trying to conceive already find that it can actually take longer than expected.
And that time frame can be extended when men run across any sort of fertility issue of their own. If you're just starting out trying to get pregnant, making small lifestyle changes to increase your fertility is not only beneficial, it may be essential. So gentlemen, here are 10 tips to help get your fertility factors in tip-top shape:
Add antioxidants. Antioxidants are well-known for fighting the free radicals in our bodies that cause cancer and other diseases, but they can also increase male fertility. Taking a supplement form of antioxidants can reduce the amount of sperm that become damaged. There are many different sources of antioxidants, but among the best for sperm health are zinc, vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E, folic acid, Coenzyme Q10 and carnitine. You may also consider adding more of the foods that contain these antioxidants into your diet.
Quit smoking. As if there weren't already enough reasons to kick the habit, fertility is one more. Smoking decreases sperm count, decreases the sperm's ability to swim, alters its shape and can cause DNA damage. Quitting can improve all of these, as well as many aspects of your general health.
Having sex frequently. This may mean something different to each person, so let me be more specific. Getting pregnant requires having sex around the time of the woman's ovulation; however, having sex regularly the rest of the month can help improve the sperm. In a study of men with DNA-damaged sperm, the sperm performed the best after one day of abstinence. So, having sex every few days turns out to be the best bet, sperm-health wise.
Reduce soy intake. Men who eat high amounts of soy tend to have lower sperm counts than men who don't. The amount of reduction isn't huge (41 million less sperm per milliliter), but it does start to make a difference in men who already have a low sperm count. Men that are overweight react more strongly to soy, so they may need to limit more than a man of normal weight.
Keep "cool." High temperatures (over 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) can damage sperm. In fact, this is why the testes are located outside the body. Protect your sperm from harmful heat by staying out of the hot tub and avoiding long hot baths. A less obvious action that may expose the sperm to extra heat is sitting. Staying in one position for a long time, such as at a desk working, raises the scrotal temperature. This can be compounded by sitting with a laptop on your lap, which only produces more heat. Keep the computer on a desk and get up every so often to move around and cool things off.
Check your weight. Being either over or underweight can alter the balance of hormones in the body and affect sperm. It is also well known that obesity has a direct negative effect on testosterone levels and fertility in men and women. If you are a few pounds overweight, start an exercise regimen and aim to get your Body Mass Index within a normal range.
Limit alcohol. This isn't to say you must stop drinking altogether (a few drinks per week is still acceptable) but heavy drinking can affect fertility. If you are going to drink, wine is the smartest option; it's less fattening than beer or hard liquor and comes with a tiny amount of its own health benefits.
Don't use a toxic lubricant. This one is plain and simple. Many lubricants have a toxic effect on sperm so opt out of any that contain chemicals. Natural lubricants like olive oil or ones meant to assist fertility are acceptable.
Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the blood, which lowers testosterone. Get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night for optimum health, general well-being and energy.
Getting pregnant can be a process for some couples, but following these tips will put you in the best possible position to succeed. If conception has not occurred within six months to a year of trying, it is time to consult with a physician.