Whether you’re trying to conceive a child or not, your fertility is an important marker for men’s health. Male infertility can signal an underlying issue with a man’s health. Here are a few habits you can change immediately to improve your fertility.
1. The testicles are outside the body because they need to be a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body. Thus, anything that warms them up can be a problem. External heat sources to the scrotum should be avoided. Laptops in the lap, hot tubs, and hot baths are examples of habits that can negatively impact semen quality. As it takes 2-3 months to make a sperm, after eliminating these exposures it can take few months before semen quality improves.
2. You are what you eat and data suggests that unhealthy foods can negatively impact male fertility. Processed and fatty foods (the so called Western diet) have been associated with lower counts. In contrast, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole greats can be beneficial to male fertility. In addition, such dietary changes can also improve heart health.
3. While it is well know that obesity can impair health, it may surprise many that extra weight can also reduce fertility. Studies have demonstrated that men who are overweight (BMI 25-30) or obese (BMI >30) have impaired semen quality and lower pregnancy rates (Check your BMI here).
4. Being more active may improve semen quality. Another heart healthy habit (a trend is developing) can help improve fertility. Sedentary activites (like TV watching) have been associated with lower sperm counts. In contrast, being active has been shown to help. One caveat is that extreme levels of any activities may be harmful as demonstrated by lower semen parameters in marathoners or professional cyclists. Moderation is the key.
5. Smoking (both tobacco and marijuana) can impair male fertility. The mechanisms of both are not completely known but several studies have demonstrated similar associations. As mentioned above, it takes time to make a sperm. So if you’re planning on starting to try in the coming months, it makes sense to stop now.
About Our Guest Author
Dr. Michael Eisenberg is a board certified urologist who received his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine. After receiving urology training at the University of California San Francisco, he completed specialty training in male reproductive medicine and microsurgery at Baylor College of Medicine.
Dr. Eisenberg currently is in the Department of Urology and Obstetrics/Gynecology at the Stanford University School of Medicine where he directs the Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Program.
Dr. Eisenberg serves as an associate editor and on the editorial boards of several leading infertility and endocrinology journals. He is highly regarded both nationally and internationally and has delivered invited lectures all over the globe. His clinical and research interests include the intersection between a man’s overall, sexual, and reproductive health. His group seeks to understand the implications of impaired sperm production to a man’s health as well as methods to improve testosterone and sperm production.
He is passionate about improving men’s reproductive health in the world and helping all couples achieve reproductive goals.