Taking Charge of Your Fertility
When a couple experiences problems trying to conceive, it is just as likely to be due to male problems as it is to female problems. Causes of male infertility are numerous but there are some things that a man can do to help increase his chances of having a child.
Live Long and Prosper
Diet and exercise are important factors behind a person’s quality of health. A diet of fast food, processed food, and just plain junk food that is all too common these days does not provide you with the nutrients that you need to stay healthy.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables along with low-fat dairy and protein gives your body the vitamins it needs to function properly, which includes the production of sperm. Additionally, eating those fatty, high calorie foods is more likely to lead to being overweight and even obese, which recent studies have shown to be a factor in male infertility.
Regular exercise (at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes each time) can help you maintain your weight and encourages optimal health. For those that are overweight or obese, losing weight will not only help your body produce healthier sperm, but it can also improve the quality of your sex life. And having a better sex life is a sure fire way to get your partner pregnant.
But before you start having visions of being the next Body Builder Champion, be realistic in your exercise. Bulking up through the use of steroids may make you look like Superman but it will also make you impotent, which is probably why Superman never had any children. You may also want to avoid using the sauna after your workout. Prolonged exposure to heat can interfere with your ability to produce sperm.
Cut Out Smoking; Cut Down On Drinking
Other lifestyle factors that affect the quality of a man’s sperm include cigarettes and alcohol consumption. Just as women must cut out these vices when they are trying to conceive, so must men. Compared to a non-smoker, a man who smokes has a lower sperm count and a greater number of misshapen sperm, neither of which is very conducive to creating a child. Additionally, heavy or binge drinking (four or more alcoholic drinks in one evening) can seriously affect your ability to produce quality sperm. Recreational drug use should also be cut out of your life as drugs like marijuana can kill off your sperm.
And don’t think that it is just what you put into your mouth that will affect your sperm. Rogaine may give you the hope of having a full head of hair again some day but it will also interfere with your sperm quality. You may want to put off getting your hair back while you and your partner are trying to conceive. Other environmental toxins, like pesticides, can also damage your sperm, so try to limit your exposure to them.
A Historical Impact
Looking back over the years, have there been other men in your family that have experienced fertility problems? If so, then it may not be so unusual that you are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant with your partner as some male fertility problems may be genetic. If there have never been any problems, then take another trip down memory lane and try to remember if you ever had any surgery done, specifically to your groin or abdominal areas. Having surgery can produce scar tissue on your reproductive organs, which can block sperm from traveling along their desired path. The surgery may have even damaged parts of your reproductive system, making it difficult for you to produce sperm.
If you have any health problems, then this could be the source of your fertility problems. In some instances, it is the health issue itself that causes infertility, while in other cases it is the medication used to treat the issue that hinders the production or quality of sperm. Additionally, past illnesses, like mumps, may have actually shrunk your testicles, which in turn, slows down the production of sperm.
Visiting The Doctor
When you and your partner have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for a year, it is probably time to book an appointment with an infertility specialist. If your partner is over 40, then make that appointment after trying for six months. Along with testing your partner, the specialist will analyze the quality of your sperm, evaluating the volume of your ejaculation as well as the density, shape and motility of the sperm.
For some men, it can be difficult to admit they have a fertility problem. To them, their virility is a sign of their masculinity. However, it is important to remember that many couples experience fertility problems at some point. Seeing a specialist can help you identify just what is wrong and get you started on solving the problem.
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD