Aug 16, 2022 | By Heather Frame, BSN, RN
Have you ever noticed how much society spotlights women’s fertility when, in reality, women are only half the equation? Male fertility is often overlooked, especially at the beginning of a TTC (trying to conceive) journey.
Male fertility accounts for 33% of successful pregnancies – female fertility and unexplained fertility accounting for the other 66%. Without healthy sperm, the egg cannot be fertilized. With a global decline in male fertility, it’s now more important than ever to evaluate what can be done to improve sperm health. So how can we ensure sperm are as healthy as possible?
Do: Exercising creates healthy sperm
With obesity and sedentary lifestyles on the rise, men can increase their sperm health by engaging in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Male fertility can be optimized with a BMI (body mass index) of 18.5–24.9.
The type of exercise your partner is practicing can also impact their fertility.
- Walking or jogging
- Moderate strength training
- Non-contact sports
Activities to limit or avoid:
- Intense, long distance running
- High-contact sports
- Any exercise requiring tight, constricted clothing
Though exercise is beneficial to sperm health, over-exercising can be just as detrimental as not exercising at all. It is not recommended to engage in intense physical activity for more than an hour daily or include artificial hormones or steroids as part of your exercise routine.
Don’t: Your sperm prefers cooler temperatures
Testicles can easily get overheated without consideration.
Here are a list of things to avoid or limit to keep semen at an ideal temperature:
- Sitting for more than 2 consecutive hours
- Using a vehicle seat warmer
- Wearing tight, constrictive underwear or pants
- Using a sauna, jacuzzi, or taking a hot bath
- Resting a laptop or charging cell phone on your lap for an extended period of time
Do: A diet with fresh, whole foods can help male fertility
Nutrition is a critical component of reproductive health and fertility in both men and women.
Instead of following a fad diet that requires radical changes, keep it simple by focusing on eating whole, organic foods as often as possible. Organic foods can limit your exposure to pesticides, which have been linked to decreased male fertility.
Make a goal to consume:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean proteins
- Unsaturated fats
- Complex carbohydrates
- Omega-3 fatty acids from wild caught fish
Multivitamin containing selenium and zinc
- Processed meats and red meat
- Fried foods
- Trans fats often found in processed foods
- Saturated fats
- Excess alcohol and caffeine
- Beverages packaged in BPA-plastic bottles
- Nicotine, any illicit drugs, or THC-containing substances
Don’t: A stressful environment is harmful to spermDecreasing stress has proven beneficial in boosting sperm health.
It’s important to remember to give yourself grace! As we know, not everything in life comes easily or without worry. Find a fun, sperm-friendly hobby that you enjoy such as golfing, reading, and perhaps the most fun one – having sex! Engaging in intercourse regularly has been proven to increase sperm quality while long periods of abstinence actually diminish sperm health.
Ready to make some changes?
In the midst of learning how to take charge of male fertility, it can also be helpful to ask your doctor about having a sperm test done. It is a simple, non-invasive test that shows the total amount of sperm per ejaculate (sperm count), the percentage of sperm that are mobile and immobile (motility), and the shape of the sperm (morphology). This analysis can be helpful in determining overall sperm health in addition to the recommendations here to help you get pregnant faster!
What you do today affects your fertility 2-3 months from now – it takes 70 days for a sperm to fully mature! Choose a few things to work on at a time and, most importantly, talk with your partner and support each other in the process. You’re in this together
Heather Frame is a compassionate Women's Health nurse. She specializes in obstetrics, postpartum, newborn care, and lactation counseling. She is committed to providing women the support they need to achieve pregnancy and thereafter. As a personal user of Premom, she can attest to how important charting your cycles is in conjunction with achieving pregnancy. She would love to help you navigate your fertility journey. Schedule a consultation with Nurse Heather right through your Premom app!