Words by Jessica Kelly
Male (In)fertility Factors
Making the decision to start a family can be difficult, as couples now consider their circumstances and desires for the future in greater detail than perhaps ever before. The decision to abandon contraception and start actively trying to conceive can take months, or even years, for some. With this difficult decision made, it’s over to the ‘fun’ part of trying to conceive, or so many people think. Sadly, it is not always easy for couples to fall pregnant and this may be due to fertility issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 18% of men who seek help from a fertility specialist are diagnosed with male infertility each year. There are several factors that affect male fertility, including illness, genetic predisposition, injury and chronic health problems. Lower testosterone levels can also be a problem, and this is common as men age – with many men over 40 experiencing a 1% drop each year. Lifestyle factors also have a crucial role to play, however, and even small changes in this area can improve the chances of conception.
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Male (In)fertility Diet & Lifestyle Recommendations
With that in mind, here are some of the biggest lifestyle factors that can have a negative effect on male fertility and suggestions for what you can do about them:
1. Stop Smoking
The negative aspects of smoking for general health are well-established, but it may surprise you that it also has an impact on male fertility. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than those who don’t, so your habit could be affecting your chances when trying to conceive. It is worth consulting with a professional to find the right method of quitting, as even small amounts of nicotine can have a negative impact on male fertility.
2. Watch Your Weight
Obesity can have a severely negative impact on male fertility, so it’s well worth considering your own weight and general health when planning to start a family. Improving your diet and fitness levels could potentially improve your sperm count, with the additional benefit of often improving libido. It’s easier said than done, of course. Breaking the lifestyle habits that have developed over years might not happen overnight, but that’s okay. Small, incremental changes can still have a big impact – and eventually, these changes to your diet or exercise regime will become second nature.
3. Protect Yourself
When staying active, whether that’s in order to manage your weight, improve your fitness or just for fun, it is important to try and protect your testicles from impact, which may affect your fertility. This may mean investing in padded cycling shorts and reducing time spent on a bike, or wearing a cup during contact sport.
4. Keep It Cool
Increased body temperature around the testicles can lead to a temporary reduction in sperm production. Try to keep your temperature consistent by avoiding the use of saunas or steam rooms while you are trying for a baby. Avoid really hot baths too! Laptop computers can also be a source of heat in this area, so it may be best to rest it on another surface rather than your lap. With millions of people now working from home due to COVID-19, this is an issue that many men will have to pay more attention to.
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5. Cut Down or Stop Drinking
Excessive alcohol consumption can decrease sperm production and lower testosterone levels in men. Several studies, including this one from BMJ, show a direct correlation between increased alcohol levels and decreased quality of sperm. You don’t have to cut alcohol out of your life completely, but it’s worth monitoring your consumption levels and considering a change if they’re too high.
6. Start Taking a Male Fertility Supplement
According to our friends at Beli, a 2012 study revealed that just 1 in 4 men have optimal semen quality. It’s important to remember that sperm provide 50 percent of the genetic material for a fetus, and if the sperm isn’t healthy enough to preserve that material or penetrate an egg, that fetus will never properly develop.
While women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, the man’s body creates sperm daily. In fact, 1,500 new sperm cells are “born” every second. The process from germline stem cell to sperm cell takes about 74 days. Evidence shows that the most common cause of sperm deficiencies is nutrient shortages. Just like women, men’s bodies need different vitamins and minerals in order to produce healthy sperm.
One study found nutrients like L-carnitine, vitamins C and E, N-acetylcysteine, zinc, and coenzyme Q10 could increase male fertility four-fold. Another study found that a combined supplementation of folate and zinc for a period of 26 weeks increased total sperm count in fertile and sub-fertile men. In fact, it increased normal total sperm count by 74 percent. Also interesting in this study, before supplementation was started, seminal folate and zinc levels were not significantly different in the fertile and sub-fertile men. This may indicate that even though low folate wasn’t the cause for lower sperm counts, supplementation still helped.
Taking steps to maintain sperm health, even if no fertility issues are present, can dramatically improve how quickly you and your partner conceive and the viability of that conception.
Related Article – Male Supplements For Fertility – Why it’s Time to Swap Your Multivitamin for a Men’s Prenatal
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The Beli team are offering our FHH readers a generous 15% off their male fertility supplements. So, if you live in the USA and want to take advantage and try them out, then use code FHH15 at checkout.
It may not be necessary to change all of these aspects of your lifestyle in order to conceive successfully, and in many cases, small changes can have a big impact. Stress also plays an important role, so it is vital not to get too worried about having to change your life completely. We all have enough stress in our lives, particularly in years like this! Start small and do what you can. If you remain worried, speak to your doctor or fertility specialist who can provide support.
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