Author: Brian Jones, Clinical Pharmacist
Roughly one-third of infertility cases are caused by male infertility. If you and your partner are struggling to get pregnant, your doctor or a fertility specialist will help you determine the cause. If you’re just starting to plan your family or you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, here are some simple ways to improve male fertility.
Sperm Health and Male Infertility
Many suggestions for men to improve their fertility ultimately improve their sperm health. Poor sperm health may cause infertility. The Mayo Clinic outlines three defining factors for sperm health: quantity, movement and structure. Low sperm count means men have a decreased chance of pregnancy. Sperm movement or motility is about a sperm’s ability to reach an egg. Healthy sperm have an oval head and a long tail. If they are misshaped, it may cause fertility problems.
The Importance of an Overall Wellness Checkup
When you’re ready to start a family, schedule a general wellness visit with your doctor. If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant, this is especially important. You and your doctor can talk about your reproductive health, your family medical history and your overall wellness. You may want to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which can cause infertility. Work with your doctor and your Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) pharmacist to manage chronic health conditions. Some chronic health conditions and the medications used to treat them can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Certain medications can negatively affect sperm count or sperm motility. Tell your HPS pharmacist about all your medications, including over-the-counter medicines.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Men who are planning to begin a family should maintain a healthy weight to improve sperm quality. High body fat can affect hormone levels, which may make it more difficult to conceive. Overweight men are also more likely to have a lower sperm count.
Regular exercise is an important part of a man’s general wellness and can help him maintain a healthy weight. Exercise can also help men reduce their stress levels and feel better overall. Men may want to avoid too much strenuous exercise and talk to a nutrition expert before taking workout supplements because both can have negative effects on fertility. You may also want to limit or avoid cycling when you and your partner are starting a family. This activity can lead to lower sperm counts and less sperm movement.
Healthy Eating and Fertility Nutrition for Men
A nutritious diet is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. When you and your partner are trying to start a family, be sure to eat well to keep your body functioning at its best. Ask your doctor or HPS pharmacist about a multivitamin or fertility supplement. Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E can increase sperm count and improve sperm motility. In order to get the best results, you may want to begin taking these nutrition supplements before you begin trying to start a family.
Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake
It’s time to stop smoking and drinking heavily if you and your partner are planning to start a family. Smoking limits sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. Alcohol reduces sperm quality and quantity, so men should reduce or eliminate their alcohol intake. When men use drugs while trying to conceive, women are more likely to miscarry.
Boxers vs. Briefs for Male Fertility
A man’s preference of boxers or briefs is often considered if he and his partner are having trouble getting pregnant. Research shows that boxers may increase a man’s fertility. Briefs and other tight underwear keep a man’s scrotum warmer. Warmer scrotum temperatures reduce sperm quality and lower sperm count. Switching to boxers may give men a boost in sperm count. Men should also avoid spending too much time in hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas when trying to conceive.
Frequent Sexual Intercourse
Many couples will coordinate sexual intercourse with the female ovulation cycle. Frequent sexual intercourse can increase your chances of getting pregnant by improving semen health. Having sexual intercourse a couple times a week is recommended for men in most cases.
Work Environment Fertility Hazards
Men who are having trouble with fertility should consider their occupation. If you are exposed to toxic chemicals at work, such as fertilizer or pesticide, you may have a harder time starting a family. Tell your doctor if you have a career in metalworking, farming, painting or another field that handles potentially hazardous material. If you work with potential hazards, take care to protect yourself and limit you exposure to toxic material.
Good Dental Hygiene and Fertility
Good dental hygiene is not always associated with fertility but it may be affecting your chances of getting pregnant. Healthy teeth and gums may improve semen health and increase your fertility. If you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant, schedule a visit your dentist.
Fertility and Age for Men
If a woman is 35 or older and has been trying to conceive for six months or more, she and her partner should meet with a fertility specialist. For men, age is not as much of a factor but it can affect their fertility. On average, men over 50 years old may have lower sperm quality and lower quantity of sperm. If you are having trouble conceiving, talk to a fertility specialist.
Relax and Reduce Stress
Stress can have a negative effect on a man’s fertility. It can interfere with a man’s hormones and make it harder for a couple to conceive. Exercise and a balanced diet may help men reduce stress. Sleep is especially important to reduce stress and produce reproductive hormones. When men are asleep, their bodies are making testosterone, which is a key reproductive health. Whether it’s hanging out with friends or just relaxing at home, take time to unwind. Infertility can be stressful for couples, so be intentional about relaxing and reducing your stress.
Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) offers fertility expertise to guide you and your partner through the entire course of your fertility treatments. HPS works diligently with healthcare providers to coordinate care and ensure medication is delivered on schedule. An experienced clinical team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help patients manage fertility treatments. At HPS, our goal is to make the lives of both patients and providers easier, healthier and happier.