8 ways dads-to-be can supercharge their fertility
For those struggling with infertility, babies and other little ones can bring about mixed emotions. It reminds them of their love of children, but also that their dream of one day being a parent is still just that: a dream.
Many people are familiar with treatments available to women but what can men do to optimize their fertility?
Here are eight tips to increase your chances of being a dad:
- Drop those extra pounds.
Sperm production is at its best when you are a normal, healthy weight. Studies show that men who are overweight or obese have decreased sperm production. Carrying extra weight increases fat cells which produce estrogen, causing a hormonal imbalance that can disrupt normal sperm production. However, don’t reach for the quick fix like weight loss supplements as they can affect sperm production.
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol and excessive caffeine.
Tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are toxins that can damage the sperm. For men trying to conceive, I recommend eliminating tobacco, consuming no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and no more than six per week, and drinking less than 300 mg of caffeine per day. A typical cup of coffee has approximately 100mg of coffee, and a soda typically has about 50 mg.
- Stay out of hot water.
Avoid baths or saunas with very hot temperatures. Immersion in hot water increases the temperature in the scrotum leading to damaged sperm production. Sperm production can take about three months to recover from over-exposure to hot temperatures.
- Skip the lubricants.
Even though they can make intercourse more enjoyable, most lubricants – including saliva, KY jelly and olive oil are toxic to sperm. If you do need to use something, the less toxic lubricants are “pre-seed,” mineral oil and canola oil. These should be used sparingly.
- Avoid testosterone or testosterone-like products.
Sometimes men I talk to don’t even realize they are taking testosterone substances. These can be either doctor prescribed, recreational for body building or even over the counter supplements. These products send messages to the testicles that there is enough testosterone around so the brain can stop sending the signals to make sperm. One recent study found that almost 90 percent of men taking these supplements had no sperm. If you are taking one of these over the counter supplements, stop immediately. The damage done is often reversible, but can take three months or longer. If you are taking doctor prescribed testosterone, check with your doctor before discontinuing.
- Avoid exposure to toxins.
I have a lot of patients who worked at a mill or railroad who were exposed to toxins and had abnormal sperm as a result. Sometimes this exposure is unavoidable depending on your work environment but try to avoid toxins and chemicals where possible. Use BPA free plastics for food and water bottles, avoid paint fumes, and stay away from chemicals.
- Choose exercise that is sperm-friendly.
Most exercise is sperm-friendly but some activities such as hot yoga or bicycle riding can increase temperature in the scrotum interfering with normal sperm production.
- Have frequent intercourse, especially around the time of ovulation.
I recommend intercourse every one or two days around time of ovulation. Ovulation typically occurs 11-21 days after the first day of the menstrual period, but can vary. To help focus efforts, women can buy ovulation kits at the pharmacy. I recommend having intercourse the day the kit turns positive as well as the following day.
When should you see a specialist?
After a year, 85 percent of young couples will have conceived. If the female partner is under 35, then you should see a fertility specialist after you have tried to conceive for one year. But if the female partner is 35 or older, seek a consultation if it has been longer than six months is recommended.
There can be reasons to seek consultation sooner, such as abnormal menstrual cycles or difficulty with erections or ejaculations. If you experience testicular pain, abnormal discharge from the penis, swelling in the scrotum, or small testicles, it is best to seek medical expertise immediately.
About the Author
Dr. Allison K. Rodgers of Fertility Centers of Illinois is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Her personal experiences with both secondary infertility and pregnancy loss have given her a unique insight into reproductive medicine, and she is well known for her compassionate and individualized patient care. www.fcionline.com