How your man can support his fertility
I know I talk mostly about women’s health and fertility here, but that doesn’t mean men’s health isn’t an equally important part of the equation.
Studies show that about one-third of problems conceiving are caused by male factors. Another 1/3 of the time, female factors are the cause, and the final third of cases are either both partners or undetermined.
So based on this, you can see that men’s health isn’t something we can ignore.
I work with women specifically, which is why most of my advice is for women. But the other reason is that even if sperm is the issue, women’s bodies are the site of interventions like IUIs and IVF, which are often used to overcome sperm quality problems.
But this doesn’t mean we should forget about men’s health and the importance it plays in conception. Whether sperm is the issue for you or not, increased sperm quality can have a big impact on your chances of getting pregnant.
So I’ve made a list of 5 things your man can do to improve his sperm quality. But before we dive in, let’s look at what constitutes sperm quality.
There are 3 generally accepted measures that make-up sperm quality:
–Sperm count–basically how many sperm are in a volume of semen
–Motility–how well they can swim
–Morphology–having normally shaped sperm
Testing these factors can give you a sense of sperm quality, but they don’t fully assess the DNA quality within the sperm, which definitely plays a role in conception. Lifestyle plays a big role in all of these factors, including DNA quality.
It takes about 2 months for sperm to be created and then used–meaning that what your partner does in those 2 months prior to conception will contribute to the health of his sperm.
So here are some ways to boost male fertility:
1. Get proper nutrition
Just like anything health and fertility related, your diet matters. Try to cut back on processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. Instead, substitute with antioxidant rich foods, which are shown to boost sperm health–think berries, dark leafy greens, veggies, and green tea (I know–but you can try!)
While you’re boosting antioxidants via food, also make sure your man is supplementing.
Women are often already taking prenatal supplements when trying to conceive, but having your partner add in a high quality supplement, too, can help fill in nutritional gaps and boost sperm health. (Here’s my basic male fertility supplement recommendation).
2. Exercise* (for most men)
Studies show that exercise can boost sperm quality in most men, particularly those who are sedentary or don’t get a lot of movement throughout the day (like the average office worker).
Thirty minutes of cardio or weightlifting can have a positive impact on sperm health, so get a gym membership together–make it a date night!
The caveat to this is for elite or ultra athletes–think marathon or ultra runners. Extreme training can have a negative impact on sperm quality, so if your partner falls into this category, it may be better to cut back a bit instead.
The same goes for cyclists–time in the saddle creates a lot of pressure in the testicles which can, again, be bad for sperm production. If your partner’s an avid cyclist, encourage him to cut back a bit while you’re trying to conceive.
3. Keep things cool
This brings me to #3: keeping things cool and spacious down there. Studies show that excess heat can decrease sperm production, so things like hot tubs or baths, sitting all day, and wearing tight-fitting pants or underwear can all have a negative impact on sperm production. (Also cycling–see above)
Try to avoid hot tubs, saunas, or long, hot showers when trying to conceive. Wearing loose-fitting pants and underwear can help, as well as taking breaks throughout the day to stand up and walk around. Have your partner set a reminder on his phone every hour to take a quick break and move around.
And if you want to get really serious about it, you can also buy underwear with pouches for ice packs (I’m not kidding–you can google it!)
4. Step away from the phone
Or at least take it out of your pocket. Studies about EMF (electromagnetic field) waves from cell phones have been controversial, but there are pretty conclusive studies about the impacts on sperm production.
Close contact with EMF waves (like keeping your phone in your pocket), can damage the DNA within sperm, making it much harder to conceive.
So have your man keep his phone in a jacket pocket (or maybe this is an argument for the male purse?), or nearby on a table or desk. But definitely keep it away from the sperm!
5. Decrease exposure to toxins
Just like for women, exposure to environmental toxins is super important for men’s fertility. BPA, a common ingredient in hard plastics is an endocrine disrupter and can decrease testosterone levels in men and negatively impact male fertility. Switch to glass or metal drinkware and food containers to avoid BPA exposure.
Personal care products like shampoo, body wash, and cologne can contain other chemicals like phthalates that also damage sperm. (Read here to learn more about upgrading personal care items, and here to read about detoxing your home.) Upgrade to eco-friendly personal care and home products to keep sperm healthy.
So show this blog to your man and have him implement just a couple of these things at a time. Even if sperm tests haven’t shown any problems, chances are there’s some room for improvement in terms of sperm health.
Plus, doing these things together as a couple makes it easier for both of you to stick with healthy routines. Know that the lifestyle changes you make together will improve your overall fertility as a couple and boost your odds of a healthy pregnancy.
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