Historically, when couples had difficulty conceiving, it was assumed that the woman was infertile. We now know that male factor issues are responsible at least half of the time. And with sperm rates declining dramatically in recent years, preconception health for men promises to remain a hot topic for years to come.
Some fertility issues are caused by physical problems and nutritional or health issues. Other interrelated issues may be tied to the quality, number, and production of sperm. Your first step is to consult with your doctor and get tested. You can also use SpermCheck, the home test from our sponsor DNA Diagnotics Center to check whether you have normal or low sperm counts.
Preconception Health Tips for Men
Clean out the medicine cabinet
Eliminate as many medications from your routine as possible. Talk to 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.
Diet 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, some even have clinical studies validating their efficacy.
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
The 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 prenatal vitamin!
- Consider taking an at-home fertility test to give you more peace of mind.
- 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.
- Ask your doctor about taking a CoQ10 supplement (Coenzyme Q10). Healthy levels of CoQ10 have been linked to increased male fertility and could have positive effects on sperm function. You can check your CoQ10 levels at home with an easy test to get clarity before starting supplementation.
Our Ultimate Fertility Resource Guide provides the information you need on fertility, tips on how to get pregnant faster, and how to boost fertility through sometimes simple tweaks to your lifestyle and approach. The guide is easy to read and meant for anybody wanting to increase their ability to conceive. It’s a free download and includes coupon codes for essential products. Even free Nightfood Nighttime Ice Cream.