Fertility Tips for Men During Men’s Health Month
June is Men’s Health Month and according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, male factor infertility issues account for 40% of all infertility problems. For those looking to conceive, the information may seem overwhelming, but most often simple lifestyle changes can improve sperm counts. With that in mind, and in the spirit of Men's health month, I have come up with a few lifestyle tips for men that can help improve their overall well-being, including their fertility potential.
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Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol
Alcohol has a detrimental effect on fertility. Heavy drinking by men can result in low levels of testosterone, reduced sperm production and altered sperm. Reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake can make a significant difference in sperm quality.
Keep Your Body Temperature Regulated
Elevated body temperature especially around your scrotum, may have a role in reduced sperm production. Limiting or avoiding your time in hot tubs and saunas may be beneficial. You should also avoid tight-fitting pants and underwear and refrain from using your laptop on your lap for extended periods of time.
Smoking of any kind (cigarette, JUUL, E-Cig, cigars, marijuana, etc.) is harmful and counterproductive to a healthy conception, pregnancy and baby. Smoking is associated with impotence and erectile dysfunction. Nicotine, and the more than 4,000 chemicals used in cigarettes, has been associated with damage to genetic material and studies suggest both smoke and smokeless tobacco impairs sperm function. Male smokers can experience decreased sperm quality, lower counts, motility, and an increased number of abnormally shaped sperm. If you smoke, stop. There are several smoking cessation programs that can help to support you.
Stress is a part of life, but doing your best to control your body’s response to stress can have an impact on sperm production. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, meditate and do your best to avoid stressful situations when trying to conceive.
Pay Close Attention to Your Diet
Diets that include red meat, processed meats, butter, coconut oil, high-fat dairy, pizza, high energy drinks, sweets, alcohol and refined grains are associated with risk for low sperm count and do not support fertility. Greater consumption of organic poultry, low mercury fish, and a Mediterranean style diet will help towards healthy sperm counts.
Vitamins and Supplements
For men planning for pregnancy, vitamin supplementation with appropriate male-focused vitamins is encouraged. Additional zinc, folic acid, selenium, and L-carnitine can be beneficial for sperm production. DHA, present in fish oil supplements, has also shown beneficial effects on sperm cell structure, and anti-oxidants, such as co-enzyme Q10, can help protect the DNA quality inside the sperm.
On the other hand, “testosterone boosters” and anabolic steroids, such as testosterone gels or injections, can severely affect sperm production for extended periods of time. These are best avoided and should be discontinued as soon as pregnancy is contemplated.
The Three Month Plan
A sperm cell takes 90 days to fully develop and mature. When planning for the best quality sperm and least risk of male fertility issues, take three months to focus on these lifestyle changes while planning for fatherhood. If you hit unexpected bumps in the road and pregnancy isn’t coming as easily as planned, then be quick to plan a test to ensure all is functioning normally. Much information is gained from a simple semen analysis, and this is best gained early to ensure the easiest path to parenthood.
At any point in your journey toward building your family, it will be beneficial to live a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Shaun Williams and our host, Matt Boley, talked all things Men’s Health related. Watch to learn facts about men’s health, fertility-related tips for men & hear a Q&A session.
Interested in learning more about Men's health & fertility? Read our latest Fertility Facts vs. Fiction article.
About Dr. Shaun Williams
Dr. Shaun C. Williams, who is board certified in both Reproductive Endocrinology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, is a staff physician and fertility specialist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut. Dr. Williams, who has been named a “Best Doctor in America” and Fairfield County “Top Doc,” has been treating Connecticut infertility patients since 2005. His medical areas of interest include fertility preservation and reproductive surgeries, especially robotic surgery to treat conditions affecting a woman’s reproductive health. However, his true passion is caring for patients, which is why he makes himself available through email, phone and appointments. Because of his bedside manner, his patients have also named him “Most Compassionate Doctor” for the past four years.