Lifestyle Habits That Can Affect Male Fertility
If you and your partner are focused on having a family, having good reproductive health is crucial. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint, though, as you must maintain this level to better your conception success. Fortunately, certain self-care measures, including those for diet and physical activity, may help you to preserve, or even boost your fertility. You should also consult with your doctor, as they may have their own recommendations.
Male Fertility and Sperm Health
If experiencing fertility issues, you’re not alone, as about one-third of all issues stem from male concerns. For male fertility, we’re really talking about the quantity and quality of sperm and semen. Healthy sperm includes such criteria as:
- Volume – The amount of semen in a full sperm sample
- Count – The number of sperm
- Concentration – The closeness of sperm
- Motility – The amount of sperm moving forward
- Morphology – The number of normally shaped and sized sperm.
Healthy Diet and Male Fertility
As the food you eat can affect fertility, you should consume a diet rich in whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits, particularly antioxidants, which help to protect the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. You should also avoid excess fat, sugar, soy, and red meat, or consider leaner animal proteins, like fish, which may increase sperm count.
Avoiding Harmful Behaviors
Excess alcohol may reduce levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. It could also make it more difficult to have and maintain erections. Smoking is also associated with issues with sperm concentration, count, motility, morphology, and DNA damage. Fertility may be negatively impacted by illicit substances, such as cocaine and heroin. Cannabis, due to THC, can also cause hormonal disruption and increase the number of abnormally shaped sperm in a semen sample.
Engaging in consistent physical activity is associated with higher-quality semen, including motility. Exercise is also crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI), as overweight and obese men are more likely to have abnormally low sperm concentrations and total sperm count.
The Importance of Sufficient Sleep
Getting too little or too much sleep (i.e., less than 6.5 hours or more than 9 hours) may contribute to lower sperm count. Aim for 7-7.5 hours per day to achieve optimal semen volume and total sperm count. When you sleep may also matter, as men working night shifts have a greater likelihood of reduced fertility.
Medical Help for Male Infertility
Generally, if you’re 35 years or older, and have failed at conception for at least 6 months, medical assistance may be needed; if under 35, wait one year. You may require an earlier visit if you have sperm issues, a history of testicular, prostate, or sexual problems, a family history of infertility, or have undergone cancer treatment. Your doctor will perform a semen analysis to help determine if and how male factors contribute.
Update Your Lifestyle to Improve Male Fertility
With male infertility a common concern, a healthy lifestyle may promote benefits, including conception. To schedule a consultation, or for general fertility questions, we encourage you to contact the Male Fertility & Sexual Medicine Specialists for an appointment.