Having a baby is a task for two. In the past, women were held responsible for the couple being infertile or for the baby’s gender. We know better now; modern medicine has found that both men and women are about equally responsible when it comes to fertility. This means that a man should assess his fertility potential when he and his partner are trying to conceive. A variety of factors affect men's fertility; lifestyle, environmental exposure and genetics are but a few.
Here are 5 key words of wisdom for men who are committed to having a baby and improving their fertility:
1. Manage your weight
Men who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for male infertility. Clinical studies have demonstrated that couples in which the male was overweight or obese, while the woman was of normal weight spent significantly more time trying to conceive compared to couples with no weight problems.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the impact of being overweight extends beyond conception delays and includes reduced sperm count and impaired sperm motility (the ability to swim) as well as increased sperm-DNA damage. Recent studies in men also showed a correlation between high body fat and reduced testosterone and other important reproductive hormone levels.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Men (and women, for that matter) should eat nutritious foods. Meals should include plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – to promote healthy sperm production. In addition, men should also follow a diet that is rich in fiber and lean proteins. Fats consumed (in moderation, of course) should be monounsaturated, such as olive or nut oil.
Published clinical studies found that high male caffeine consumption reduced couples’ chances of getting pregnant. Manage your caffeine intake; do not exceed 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine daily (that's up to 2-3 cups of coffee) while trying to conceive.
3. Use a science-based multivitamin for male fertility
Even if you maintain a healthy diet, you could still have a shortage of essential nutrients that may affect your fertility. While trying to conceive, take multivitamins specifically formulated based on scientific research for male fertility. These supplements should include antioxidants, the minerals selenium and zinc and L-carnitine. Research supports the role of antioxidants in improving sperm quality and protecting sperm-cell DNA damage.
4. Maintain a moderate physical exercise program
Regular physical exercise helps reduce stress and makes us feel better about ourselves. While trying to conceive, you should stay physically active, but you don’t need to go overboard. Limit overly intense exercise, such as triathlons and marathon running, which may negatively affect fertility. Exercise may also boost long-term health, which is important once you are a parent, so you can keep up with your kids and raise them to adulthood.
5. Quit smoking and manage your drinking
If you are looking for a reason to stop smoking, having a baby is your best one yet. Smoking is linked to reduced sperm quality, so stop smoking while you and your partner are trying to conceive. Research shows that smoking affects all sperm quality parameters. Smokers suffer from low sperm counts, decreased sperm movement and higher numbers of abnormally shaped sperm.
Alcohol consumption is another factor that can lower testosterone levels and reduce sperm quantity and quality. While trying to conceive, men should limit alcohol consumption to low or moderate amounts (up to 2 drinks per day).
While your job is done once your sperm fertilizes your partner’s egg, your partner needs to do the heavy lifting during nine months of pregnancy. So, consider keeping up with this routine throughout her pregnancy and beyond.