When fertility is mentioned, people's thoughts often go immediately to the woman. Is she eating a healthy diet? Is she taking the proper vitamins? While those are important questions, we should ask the same questions of men.
It takes two healthy individuals to create a baby, and in this article, we’ll look into some of the choices men can make to improve their chances of conceiving.
Optimize physical health
Body weight directly impacts overall health and in turn, ability to reproduce. In fact, research shows that overweight men are 11 percent more likely to have a low sperm count and 39 percent more likely to have no sperm in their ejaculate, complicating chances of conceiving.
Ways to improve
Work on achieving a healthy weight by focusing on your diet. You cannot out-train a bad diet, and you won’t see the results you want without eating healthy foods. To maintain a healthy weight plus improve fertility, your diet should prioritize high quality meat, fish, and eggs, plus nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. These foods are high in the key nutrients needed to support sperm health, like omega 3s, and antioxidant vitamins C and E. It can be hard to get the proper vitamins and nutrients from food alone. To supplement your diet, look into a comprehensive men’s multivitamin to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
Reduce stress and anxiety
While the research analyzing the connection between stress and infertility is ongoing, one thing is definite—constant stress can wreak havoc on your health. Being in an above-average state of stress can do everything from increasing your chances of certain cancers to causing mental health disorders. Mental health issues such as depression make it hard to keep up with day-to-day things, like maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and doing things that bring you pleasure, like sex. Depression is typically accompanied by other mental health conditions like anxiety and can manifest as performance anxiety in bed or lower libido. If you’ve been trying to conceive for multiple cycles, it’s easy to place subconscious pressure on yourself.
Ways to improve
Try to naturally relieve tension by incorporating breathing techniques before and during sex to help relax your mind and body. Breath work can help ease physical tension and forego any mental blocks you might be experiencing. If that doesn’t work, do some research into your situation. Stress and anxiety can manifest into sexual dysfunctions, which will make the overall experience more difficult and may impact your ability to conceive. Ask your doctor what the best course of action is. They may find underlying issues that may be causing your dysfunctions or recommend a solution like a premature ejaculation treatment to supplement the effects of your mental blocks.
Limit alcohol and avoid smoking
Yes, we know. Happy hour sounds appealing, especially when dealing with the stressors of trying to conceive, but alcohol certainly doesn’t support fertility. One or two drinks are typically not enough to drastically affect your sperm quality. However, overconsumption of alcohol has known effects on fertility. The main one being decreased sperm quality. According to research by BMJ Journals, sperm concentration, total sperm count, and percentage of spermatozoa with normal morphology were negatively associated with increasing habitual alcohol intake. Like alcohol, smoking can cause irreparable damage to your cells and increase your chances of erectile dysfunction.
Ways to improve
To reduce alcohol consumption, try swapping the cocktail for a mocktail or another drink like kombucha. If your relationship with alcohol is more complicated, don’t be shy about seeking professional help. For smoking, consult with your doctor about the best options available to you. They may recommend groups, apps, specific diets, and more.
Better sleep quality
Getting the proper amount of sleep is essential for just about every aspect of your body’s health —brain, mental, physical, and even sexual health. That’s why it’s crucial for men trying to conceive to prioritize a healthy sleep balance (no more late-night Netflix binging). The optimal amount of sleep an adult man should get is between 7-9 hours. Going over or under that amount can affect a man’s fertility. Boston University professor Lauren Wise who led a study on the connection between sleep and fertility found that men getting less than 6 or more than 9 hours of sleep have a 42 percent reduced probability of conception. Improper sleep cycles can decrease testosterone levels which isn’t ideal as sleep is when men regulate this crucial sex hormone.
Ways to improve
Consider keeping a sleep journal. Consistently logging your bedtime routine will help you pinpoint what may affect your sleep. Simple things like something you ate prior to going to bed or light coming from a place in your bedroom can disrupt your sleep. Once you identify the cause, you can then fix the issue. Invest in blackout curtains if the light is an issue. Trying white/brown noise or switching to specific sheets if temperature affects whether or not you can get a good night’s rest.
As a man, there are many options that you can take to improve your chances of conceiving. It's just a matter of finding what fits your situation best. For more information on how to support optimal fertility, read this article here.
— Doheny, K. (2016, October 19). Sleep Can Affect male Fertility. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/men/news/20161019/sleep-can-affect-male-fertility
— McDonald, E. (2018, December 10). Don't make the mistake of letting a diet kill sperm. UChicagoMedicine. Retrieved from https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/dont-make-the-mistake-of-letting-a-diet-kill-sperm