The Best Tips for Better Reproductive Health in Men
If you’re a man who has decided to become a father, it’s important to be aware that there are a number of factors and conditions that may impact your fertility. Of all the issues that cause men to experience difficulty when trying to conceive, over 90 percent of cases of male infertility are related to low sperm count, poor sperm quality, or a combination of both.
While any patient who experiences infertility issues related to sperm health will need to be evaluated by a licensed medical professional, there are certain lifestyle changes you can make which may help increase your sperm count and quality naturally. Listed below are 10 habits you can adopt that may have a positive impact on your fertility.
1. Adopt a healthy diet.
Apart from being just generally good health advice, choosing to eat a balanced, healthy diet may improve the number and quality of a man’s sperm. Fresh fruits and vegetables full of vitamins and minerals and fatty fish are the best foods that a man can consume for better reproductive health, while nutrition experts recommend limiting saturated fats. Additionally, some studies suggest that men looking to boost their reproductive health should limit their intake of soy, as it may lead to lower sperm count.
2. Have a regular exercise schedule.
Men who engage in regular exercise have the chance to boost their fertility in two ways. First, they are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, which is an important part of keeping the body’s hormones balanced. Men who are over- or underweight risk imbalanced hormones that can lower sperm count levels. Secondly, exercise limits the amount of testosterone in a man’s body that is converted to estrogen, which often leads to improved fertility. Experts generally recommend a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weight resistance training as the best types of exercise for men who trying to improve their fertility. However, it’s important to remember not to take an exercise regimen too far. One study from 2009 showed that men who engaged in exercise for one hour, three times a week had healthier sperm than men who maintained rigorous workout schedules, like triathletes and long-distance runners.
3. Stay relaxed and manage stress.
Just as stress can affect our physical, cognitive, and emotional health, it can also affect reproductive health. In men, stress can cause issues like erectile dysfunction, as well as reduce testosterone levels. Stress can be especially difficult to mitigate for men who are struggling with infertility, as the pressure to conceive can itself be a major source of stress. It’s important for men who struggle with stress under these circumstances to remember that over 90 percent of couples actively trying to become pregnant are able to do so within two years. Set aside time every day to relax and unwind, and make an effort to structure your schedule so that you get enough sleep.
4. Quit smoking and drink only in moderation.
Men who are smokers should look to kick the habit if they want to improve their sperm health. A study from 2016 showed that the toxins in cigarettes not only lower sperm count, but result in sperm that have poor motility and are abnormally shaped. Additionally, men with a smoking habit have been shown to have less success when they and their partners use assisted reproductive technologies like IVF to conceive. The habit may also be tied to a higher rate of miscarriage.
Beyond cigarettes, there is evidence that other substances like alcohol and marijuana can have a negative impact on a man’s fertility. Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone levels and cause lower sperm quality, while regular marijuana use more than once per week has been shown to result in a more than 25 percent decrease in sperm count and concentration. Men who are actively trying to have a child should abstain from marijuana use and limit their alcohol intake to improve their odds.
5. Avoid hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas.
Some may be surprised to learn that the myth about hot tubs harming male fertility is actually true. In order for healthy sperm to develop in the testes, a man’s scrotum must maintain an average temperature that is slightly lower than the rest of the body. When the scrotum is exposed to heat in high doses, it can cause poor sperm motility and even damage sperm DNA. Men who are looking to father a child in the near future should avoid situations which may expose their reproductive organs to high heat for long periods of time, including hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms.
6. Have sex regularly.
While it may seem obvious that a couple looking to conceive should have sex regularly, what men may not be aware of is that regular sexual activity not only increases the likelihood of conception, but also helps keep the sperm stored in the testicles healthy. Regular ejaculation helps men avoid the accumulation of sperm with DNA damage, resulting in better reproductive health. However, it’s generally accepted that men who engage in sexual activity too often are at risk of reducing their sperm count during individual ejaculatory events. For the average couple trying to conceive, most medical professionals recommend having sex about once every day, or once every two days in order to keep sperm in good condition.
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