Infertility is an issue that affects millions of American couples. It is often seen as a female problem, even though millions of men have sought out the services of a fertility expert in the past decade. The presence and quality of sperm remains variable among the male population, and there are things that men with fertility issues should consider when going through the process. There may be underlying physiological issues that are preventing couples from conceiving, but making sure you are taking all the necessary steps in your day to day lifestyle is essential.
Many men do not realize that behaviors in their day to day life may be decreasing the presence and quality of their sperm. So, the question is: Are there things I can be doing to help increase the likelihood of getting pregnant? And the answer is yes!
- Alcohol consumption: Regular alcohol consumption (2+ drinks/day) can lower your testosterone levels, causing both increased erectile dysfunction and decreased sperm production.
- Illicit Drug use: Anabolic steroids that stimulate muscle growth and strength can cause the testicles to shrink and decrease sperm production. Also, marijuana and cocaine lead to decreased number and quality of sperm.
- Tobacco Smoking: Correlates with lower sperm counts than non-smokers.
- Occupational risks: Certain occupations are associated with infertility such as prolonged computer or video display monitors, shift work, and high levels of work-related stress.
- Stress: Interferes with certain hormones needed in production of sperm. Severe and prolonged emotional stress can affect sperm count.
- Weight: Obesity causes changes in hormone levels that increase likelihood of infertility.
- Overheating of the testicles: This can be caused by spending too much time in a sauna, steam room, hot tub, or even prolonged bicycle riding. In some cases, bicycle seat pressure on the perineum (area between testicles and anus) can cause numbness in the penis and Erectile Dysfunction.
- Overexposure to certain environmental elements such as heat, toxins, and chemicals reduce sperm count and function.
Additional things you can do to help improve your likelihood of fertilization:
- Treat your erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation issues with medication and counseling.
- Hormone treatments and medications: Infertility issues can be caused by high or low levels of certain hormones. Have your doctor regulate your hormones.
- Increase frequency of sex to every day or every other day.
- Have sex during ovulation: Women are more likely to become pregnant during ovulation, which occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, between periods. This ensures that the sperm can live several days.
- Celiac Disease: Digestive disorder caused by gluten sensitivity can cause male infertility. Adopt a gluten free diet if you suffer from this disease.
- Increase anti-oxidants: Men with fertility issues tend to carry more free radicals. Increasing your intake of anti-oxidant rich foods will help with free radical reduction.
- Boost testosterone levels in natural ways:
- Increase Whey Protein intake and Branch Chain Amino Acids
- Limit or eliminate Sugar from your diet
- Eat Healthy Fats such as olive oil, raw nuts/seeds, grass fed meats, palm oil, organic pastured eggs, coconut oil, avocados, etc.
- Optimize Vitamin D levels- supplementation, sun, through diet
- Strength Training- Power movements- squats, deadlifts, cleans, etc.
- High Intensity Cardiovascular Training- Elevate the heart rate!
- Increase Zinc intake- good dietary sources of zinc include raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and Greek yogurt – you can also supplement zinc if you do not want to eat these foods.
Now, adhering to the above may not be the answer to everyone’s fertility issues, but optimizing your lifestyle habits can certainly help. Improving upon your own lifestyle habits will not only ensure healthier sperm, but they will ensure a healthier individual. These strategies are also recommended for anyone who is looking to live a long, high quality life. This will come in handy once you have your child, as I’m sure you’d like to stay strong and healthy for them!