Did you know the formation of mature sperm takes about two months? This means a male’s reproductive health is impacted by his diet, lifestyle, general health and environment of some two to three months prior.
When a couple is trying to conceive, the man’s reproductive health is as important as the woman’s, and also contributes towards optimising the chances of a healthy baby.
Doing your part to ensure your sperm is as healthy as possible is an important contribution to you and your partner’s fertility journey.
Here are some tips to ensure you and your sperm are in optimum condition:
1. Smoking: Smoking can reduce sperm count and result in poor quality. If you are a smoker, quitting the habit is an integral part of preconception care for both partners.
2. Alcohol: Studies have shown that as little as one beer a day can affect sperm, increasing the risk of miscarriage and reducing the chance of a live birth. Therefore, restrict your alcohol intake if you and your partner are trying to conceive.
3. Caffeine: Caffeine affects sperm motility (ability to swim) and quality, so you should limit your daily consumption to one or two cups of coffee a day.
4. Weight: As with women, there is a clear relationship between weight and fertility for men. Men who are significantly overweight may have decreased sperm count and quality. Keep your weight within the recommended body mass index (BMI) range.
5. Diet and exercise: Diet and exercise play important roles in the production of sperm. A healthy, balanced diet rich in lean proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables is recommended. Men need to keep in mind that sperm is produced at slightly below body temperature, so it is important to exercise at a sensible pace and not overheat.
6. Keep cool: Overheating can affect sperm quality. The testes are outside the body to keep them cooler for a reason. Avoid hot spas, saunas, tight jeans and underwear, and even using your computer on your lap.
7. Vitamin supplements: Zinc deficiency can reduce testosterone levels and semen production. Taking a supplement can improve DNA quality. We recommend taking a supplement with antioxidants and zinc.
8. Recreational drugs: It is advisable not to use any form of recreational drugs when trying to conceive or after conception. Marijuana and anabolic steroids can affect sperm count and quality.
9. Ejaculation frequency: Interestingly, infrequent ejaculation results in sperm becoming sluggish and tending to have more chance of DNA damage. Men need to ejaculate regularly to keep the sperm healthy and motile. For best results, try to ejaculate every two days, especially when your partner is ovulating.
10. Stress: Studies have shown that semen quality declines during times of stress. Engage in stress-lowering activities such as reading, walking, etc.
11. Toxins: We are confronted with myriad environmental toxins on a daily basis. If you are exposed to paint, diesel fumes or pesticides, either avoid them or use protective safety equipment. Pollution can also cause DNA damage to sperm, so employ safety measures.