To all the men out there, listen up…you also play a crucial role in helping achieve a healthy pregnancy, so don’t just leave it to the women. The health of both the sperm and eggs are equally important to optimise your chances of pregnancy.
There are several lifestyle factors you can control that will help enhance your fertility, but take note, for sperm it takes approximately two and a half months to see if changes to your lifestyle have improved your sperm quality.
So what are the biggest factors you can focus on? Here are some of the top priorities I recommend:
Maintain a healthy weight
Ensuring your weight is within the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range of 20 to 25 is important.
Being overweight can impact your ability to conceive, as sperm quality (concentration and motility) can be negatively impacted. Studies have consistently linked obesity to a lower sperm count; a drop in testosterone levels and a rise in oestrogen levels; increased DNA damage to the sperm; and an increased incidence of erectile dysfunction. Being underweight (BMI less than 20) can also be problematic with underweight men tending to have lower sperm concentration.
If you are a smoker, quitting smoking should be one of your first steps on your journey to conceive.
Smoking cigarettes can decrease sperm concentration, motility (how sperm swim), morphology with fewer normally shaped sperm, and increase sperm DNA fragmentation due to oxidative damage to the DNA, any of which reduce your fertilising capacity.
Drinking alcohol in moderation is critical for at least three months prior to conception.
It is unknown exactly what level of drinking will impact your fertility, but it is known that heavy drinking can reduce sperm quality, lower testosterone production, and cause erectile dysfunction. It can also lead to liver damage, which affects both your general and reproductive health.
Quit recreational drugs – marijuana, anabolic steroids
Avoiding marijuana and anabolic steroids is critically important. The cannabinoids (compounds found in marijuana) act both on the central and peripheral nervous system and are associated with a decrease in testosterone; apoptosis sertoli cells; spermatogenesis (sperm creation), and motility (sperm movement) all factors that are related to infertility issues.
Eliminate anabolic steroids too as they can cause suppression of the hypothalamic-gonadal axis (the link between nervous and endocrine system) leading to suppression of endogenous testosterone hence reducing sperm production. The effects are generally reversible but can take up to a year to correct.
Check on prescription medications
Reviewing your prescription medications with your GP and the possible impact they might be having on your fertility is advisable.
Even common medications like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and anti-hypertensives can have an impact. Your GP may be able to able to change or alter these to benefit your fertility.
Being stressed can often lead to poorer behaviours that can impact fertility – like smoking, drinking and poor eating and exercise habits. If there was ever a time to take it easy and spend more time taking care of yourself by walking, reading, and relaxing, it’s now.
For more information on male fertility health visit our male infertility page.
Phone: 1300 354 354