Fertility

Trying to Conceive in 2022? Here’s What Men Should be Doing Now

Eloise Edington  |  9 Feb 2022


Are you wondering how a man can tell if he’s fertile and what a man should do before trying for a baby?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many signs or symptoms of male infertility, so following advice on improving sperm quality is an important step in boosting fertility and getting pregnant faster.

Today, we turn to Legacy at-home sperm testing kits to identify four key ways men can increase their chances of conception.

Legacy at-home sperm testing kits help people with sperm to test, freeze, and improve sperm quality at home. Legacy’s digital fertility clinic (view their profile here and website here) also offers personalised advice alongside sperm-testing results to support men in improving sperm health.

Over to Legacy

When it comes to making a baby, sperm and egg play equal parts — so they both need to be healthy for optimal fertility. What can men and people with sperm do to increase the chances of natural conception with their partner?

Adopting a healthier lifestyle, quitting smoking, avoiding activities that heat the scrotum, and supplementing certain nutrients may help improve sperm health, and potentially chances of pregnancy. Sperm production takes about 72 days, so if you start now, you’ll see healthier sperm in 2–3 months.

If you’re trying to conceive in 2022, here are four things you should do now to improve your chances.

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Related article: Everything you need to know about at-home sperm testing kits.

1: Lifestyle changes for better male fertility

Sperm health is often a reflection of overall health. Everything from physical activity to sleep to smoking has been shown to be associated with sperm count, motility (how well sperm are moving), morphology (the size and shape of sperm), and DNA fragmentation (damage to sperm’s genetic material). Therefore, a man’s overall health may influence his chances when TTC, and lifestyle changes can improve sperm quality.

If you’re trying for a baby, you should consider these lifestyle changes:

Cleaning up your diet

Diets that contain a lot of fried foods, refined grains, added sugars, red meat, processed meats such as hot dogs and cold cuts, or trans fats have been associated with lower sperm counts and concentration and reduced sperm motility and normal morphology. In general, diets high in processed meats, such as hot dogs and cold cuts, are associated with lower sperm morphology.

The Mediterranean diet, modeled on what’s traditionally eaten in Italy and Greece (primarily fruits and vegetables, seafood, healthy fats, and whole grains) is one example of a diet that has the potential to improve sperm health, according to several studies. Foods that may help increase male fertility include:

  • Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens (high in folate) and foods that are high in vitamin C, such as bell peppers and citrus.
  • Seafood and shellfish contain omega-3 fatty acids and several other nutrients necessary for healthy sperm production.
  • Nuts and seeds, especially walnuts (for the good fats) and Brazil nuts (for the selenium).

Learn more about superfoods for sperm quality.

Exercising regularly and losing weight (if applicable)

Regular, moderate physical activity has been correlated in multiple studies with improved sperm health. The best exercise for sperm health may be something as simple as walking or jogging 5 times a week. One study found that moderate-intensity, continuous training produced the most significant improvement in sperm concentration, motility, and morphology after 12 weeks — better than high-intensity activities such as HIIT and long-distance running races. (All of the exercises, however, improved male fertility compared to the control group that didn’t exercise.)

For men who are overweight or obese, losing weight may help, as high BMI is associated with decreased male fertility.

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Grab 20% off all Legacy products including supplements and sperm analysis kits if you live in the US. Use code FHH20 at checkout.

Quitting smoking

Smoking cigarettes has been shown to be one of the most damaging things you can do to your sperm. Smokers have double the risk of infertility that non-smokers have, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. A 2016 review examined 20 different studies and found that smoking was associated with significantly reduced sperm count and motility — and that the more you smoke, the stronger these effects are.

The good news is that, if you quit smoking, your sperm health is likely to recover within 6 months. Research shows that former smokers who quit more than six months ago have similar semen parameters to non-smokers.

Reducing consumption of alcohol and cannabis

While occasional drinking — a drink or two a few nights per week — is unlikely to affect male fertility, research shows that habitual binge drinking is associated with decreased sperm concentration. If you’re a big drinker, reducing your intake to around 5 drinks per week may improve sperm health.

Much research has concluded that cannabis use has a statistically significant impact on semen parameters and sperm quality. While some of the studies on weed and male fertility include extremely high doses — for example, a 2015 study of 1,215 Danish men compared sperm quality from individuals who smoked 8–20 joints per day — researchers haven’t yet identified a “safe” level of marijuana for sperm. Therefore, fertility experts recommend reducing your cannabis consumption while trying to conceive.

Getting more (and better) sleep

Research has shown that getting enough sleep may be important for fertility. One study found that men with self-reported low quality and quantity had significantly decreased semen parameters, including:

  • Lower total motility and progressive motility
  • Lower sperm count
  • Poorer sperm morphology

Between 7–8 hours is ideal, but it’s most important that the sleep is high quality — meaning that it’s restful, restorative, and free from disturbances.

2: Avoid heating the testicles while TTC

Increased scrotal temperature — i.e. heating up a man’s testicles — impairs sperm production. (That’s why the testes hang away from the male body in a sac, to maintain a temperature about 5º cooler than body temperature)

Therefore, activities that increase heat in the genitals can have a significant short-term effect on sperm production. It’s good advice for men who are TTC to avoid:

  • Hot tubs, hot baths, and saunas
  • Using a laptop on the lap for long periods of time
  • Biking long distances
  • Using heated car seats
  • Tight clothing on the bottom, such as running tights

What about boxers vs. briefs? There is some evidence to suggest that the old “tighty whities are bad for your fertility” joke is rooted in truth. One study found that men who typically wore boxers had a significantly higher sperm concentration, on average than men who typically wore briefs, likely due to increased scrotal temperature.

3: Consider a male fertility supplement

We know that prenatal vitamins are important for the mother or birthing parent. But should men be taking vitamins when TTC? It could be helpful, especially if you have abnormal semen parameters such as low sperm count.

There are certain nutrients that have been associated with improved male fertility, but research is still fairly limited. The supplement with the most extensive evidence to support its use is CoQ10, an antioxidant that’s used by cells during growth. Multiple studies have found that supplementing with CoQ10 is associated with increased sperm concentration, motility, and fertilization rates during IVF. Based on this research, male fertility supplements should contain 200–300mg of CoQ10.

Other supplements that may support healthy sperm production include:

  • Antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene and selenium
  • L-carnitine
  • Folate
  • D-aspartic acid
  • Zinc
  • Ashwagandha
  • Fenugreek

Remember, it takes approximately 2–3 months for lifestyle changes to be reflected in the semen quality. So, if you’re hoping to grow your family this year, you may want to start taking a male fertility supplement now.

4: Get a proactive semen analysis

Male-factor infertility is a cause in around 30–50% of infertility cases. It’s more common than most people think for men to have low sperm count or other conditions affecting fertility. But other than not being able to conceive, there aren’t many signs or symptoms of male infertility.

Therefore, most men don’t know whether they’re likely to be fertile or not until they try to start a family or they get a semen analysis. A semen analysis is a test that checks for sperm count, motility, and morphology, factors that can predict whether a man is likely to get his partner pregnant naturally.

Many men don’t consider testing their sperm until they’ve been trying to conceive for 6 or even 12 months, typically when they’re seeking a fertility specialist for a consultation. We recommend proactive sperm testing instead — early on while you’re trying to conceive or even before you start.

As we’ve discussed, lifestyle factors and behaviors can have a profound impact on male fertility. Supplements may also help improve sperm health. Proactive testing can give you the information you need to make effective and targeted changes, saving time, money, and stress during the TTC process.

A semen analysis may also highlight an issue that can’t be fixed by lifestyle changes alone, such as azoospermia (a complete absence of sperm in the semen) or varicocele (swollen veins in the scrotum that reduces sperm quality). These conditions can often be treated. Wouldn’t you rather identify these problems early on, so you can be more quickly on the road to health and conception?

Semen analysis is a low-risk, affordable and easy test that can give you a lot of useful data. This is especially true now that at-home testing for male fertility, such as Legacy is an option. With a mail-in semen analysis kit from Legacy, you can produce a semen sample via masturbation in the comfort of your own home, ship it to a lab, and get a clinic-grade analysis that will identify any possible red flags for your fertility.

Legacy will also connect you with a fertility specialist to discuss your results, so you can make proactive changes to support your sperm health, and increase your chances of making a baby in 2022.

Following these simple steps to improve male fertility can boost chances of getting pregnant. Thank you, Legacy, for your advice on increasing fertility for men TTC.

Visit Legacy’s website here for 20% off all Legacy products including supplements and sperm analysis kits when you use code FHH20 at checkout.

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