Tips on Preconception Health for Men
As couples prepare for pregnancy, it is easy to focus only on the woman’s health. However, there are several habits men need to be forming during these critical months of preparation too. Issues of fertility do not rest solely on the female.
According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), “Agents that may cause birth defects do not reach the developing fetus through the father as they do from the pregnant mother,” but we do know that male exposure to certain substances can lead to some preliminary problems with fertility and also slightly elevate the risk of certain birth defects.
Male infertility alone accounts for approximately 1/3 of all infertility cases. Should fertility issues arise, you should plan ahead to be in the best physical condition to conceive.
Make an appointment with your doctor
It is time to find a health care provider you feel comfortable with to get started with a pre-conception appointment.
Clean out the medicine cabinet
Eliminate as many medications from your routine as possible. Talk with your physician about your prescription medications. You may need to discontinue use or try something new.
The following medications have been known to impact male fertility:
- Tagamet (cimetidine), sulfasalazine, and nitrofurantoin are used to treat ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, and urinary tract infections. These medications may impact sperm production and sperm count.
- Steroids, such as prednisone and cortisone, which are used to treat asthma, arthritis and skin conditions, impact male fertility.
- Chemotherapy and radiation could cause sterility or a significant change in sperm quality and quantity.
Take a good look at your work environment
Your work environment may be a contributing factor to your fertility. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, ongoing exposure to certain agents such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, lead, nickel, mercury, chromium, ethylene glycol ethers, petrochemicals, benzene, perchloroethylene, and radiation can lower sperm quality, quantity and possibly lead to infertility or miscarriage.
Eat and Sleep
What you eat can make a difference. Find out what your proper weight range should be and make the necessary dietary and exercise changes to get there. Studies suggest that some men with low sperm count also have a zinc deficiency.
The following foods are high in zinc and could increase your fertility:
- Wholegrain cereals
- Selenium, which is found in Brazil nuts
Adding more vitamin E may also help the process along. There are Male Fertility Supplements available containing vitamins, minerals and other ingredients designed to help improve overall reproductive health.
Also, keep in mind getting plenty of rest is good for everything that ails you, even low sperm count and sperm quality.
Avoid alcohol and other substances
Eliminate alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and any illicit drugs. Too much alcohol may reduce zinc levels, and drugs decrease sperm quality. There is some research that may link smoking and certain rare heart defects, but further studies must be done to make an accurate conclusion. Marijuana has been proven to affect sperm quality and sperm count, but there is no evidence that shows that marijuana causes birth defects.
Keep your testicles cool
Heat from hot tubs, saunas, long showers (more than 30 minutes), heating pads, electric blankets, and tight clothing like briefs and spandex could cause your testicles to become too hot, which decreases sperm quantity.
Stay away from cycling
Cycling can cause a lot of friction and jostling, which increases the temperature of your testicles. The rise in temperature and possibility of injury may cause a low sperm count.
Preconception Health “Do’s” for Men
The above may sound like a long list of “don’ts.” Here’s a list of “do’s” that you may find helpful during this time:
- Do keep in mind that you are getting healthy along the way and preventing many other major medical complications.
- Do take a multivitamin, male fertility supplement or even a pre-natal vitamin! Order now
- Consider taking an at home fertility test to give you more peace of mind. Shop for male at-home testing
- Do enjoy sex and romance like you used to. It’s easy to think of sex as a chore while trying to get pregnant. Remember there is more to it than just making a baby.
- Do be romantic. Life will change (in a good way) after a baby comes. But it will never be just like it is now. Enjoy every moment together.