Have you decided to try for a baby?
We all know it takes two to tango, but the pregnancy prep should just be left to the women.
There is a lot that your partner can do to improve your chances of falling pregnant quickly. In fact, these tips will improve your partner’s health and get your baby off to the best start in life.
Male fertility issues account for around 40% of couples struggling to get pregnant. That means your partner needs to put a bit more in effort than simply doing the deed.
Sperm renews every 72 days. Therefore the ideal time to start is at least 3 months before your first attempt at trying to conceive (TTC). However, I’d recommend starting as soon as you decide to TTC.
Keep this guide close at hand and bookmark or pin it to refer to later. Of if you find it useful share it with your friends who are trying for a baby.
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9 Ways to Improve Male Fertility
1. Fertility Diet
Let’s start with the basics. We all know most healthy living advice will focus on diet. There are special issues men should consider for sperm health.
When trying for a baby your partner should aim for a BMI of 18-25. This means they are a healthy weight for their height.
Its known that being underweight or overweight affects your man’s fertility. The reason is due to hormone imbalances which affect the sperm quality.
If your partner is overweight it also puts them at greater risk of erectile dysfunction. Also, extra weight can cause low libido and low body confidence which can affect your chances of getting pregnant.
The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a good diet. That means lots of healthy fruit, vegetables, protein, and whole grains. This will provide your partner with the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy sperm.
If your partner is struggling to get the right nutrients, a good multivitamin is a great diet booster.
Try to avoid your intake of refined, processed and soy-rich foods. These are known to lower sperm producing testosterone levels. Cutting down your salt intake will also improve sperm quality.
Drinking enough water to stay hydrated will improve sperm motility. Your partner’s semen will be thinner making it easier for the sperm to swim.
Try sticking to plain water. It’s known that high caffeine or alcohol intake is harmful to sperm count and quality.
2. Fertility Exercise
Keeping fit is a great way for your partner to keep his body weight in check. It also improves his sperm quality. It’s recommended he exercises moderately (3 times a week for 1 hr) when trying for a baby. Over-exercising or no exercise at all is linked to higher rates of male infertility. This is what you should know about exercising when TTC.
Type of exercise
When trying for a baby not all exercises are equal. Some will actually be harmful towards the sperm. It’s best to avoid excessive ‘sitting’ sports such as cycling, motorcycles, rowing, sailing or horse riding. These reduce the blood flow to the testicles and increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.
If your partner isn’t keen on exercise then a simple walk, swim or yoga session can improve their sperm quality.
Keep it Cool
It’s important to make sure your partner keeps their testicles as cool as possible when exercising. The activity can cause overheating which is bad for the sperm.
For the same reason, it’s best to avoid relaxing in the gym sauna, hot tub or steam room after a good workout.
Make sure they wear loose or airflow fabrics which keeps their groin area cool.
When you are regularly exercising it just as important to let your body rest. A lack of sleep can reduce your chances of having a baby by 30%. Lack of sleep is thought to reduce testosterone levels which affect sperm production.
Lack of sleep can also lead to poor mental health and increase rates of depression and fatigue.
3. Cut out the Vices
Your partner probably has a few bad habits which he already knows is bad for his health. Trying for a baby is a great way to turn over a new leaf and ditch the unhealthy lifestyle. The upside is he will be healthier, save money and be a better role model for your baby.
Your partner already knows smoking is bad for their general health, but did he know it affects his fertility too? Studies have shown that even moderate smoking can affect his sperm count, motility and causes sperm defects.
Smoking is also related to higher use of IVF and miscarriage rates. Remember that even if you don’t smoke, your partner’s second-hand smoke is not good for pregnancy.
If he is struggling to give up cold turkey, try using aids such as nicotine patches or gum. The Allen Carr Easy Way Method is highly rated and very effective, particularly for men.
It’s recommended that men have no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day. That is counted as a bottle of beer, small wine or a shot of spirits or liquor.
It’s unlikely drinking this amount or less will affect your chances of conceiving. Drinking more than this can affect sperm quality and testosterone levels. Heavy drinking can also cause erection and libido issues.
Recreational and street drug use is extremely bad for your partner’s health and also illegal. Your partner must give up this habit if you are trying for a baby. This includes steroid use for exercise purposes.
Drug use can result in sperm deformities which can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or poor baby development. It’s not an environment you want to bring a baby into.
If your partner is are struggling to give up you should put TTC on hold until they are drug-free. Child protective services may be involved if your partner is known to continue using drugs.
4. Work Environment
Working in a certain environment can have a huge effect on your partner’s fertility. You should consider the job they do and the risks it presents to your partner.
Poor environments which affect sperm are:
- Heat. If your partner is a chef, fireman, baker or foundry they are working in higher than average temperatures.
- Chemicals and solvents. Some chemical can interfere with your partner’s hormone production. This includes farm workers, pest control, cleaners, printers, and painters.
- Radiation. Your partner should be restricted to how much radiation they are exposed to. This should prevent any damage to sperm. They may want to avoid getting extra radiation at home from microwaves or phone use.
- Heavy Metals. Working with metals such as lead and cadmium are known to lower fertility.
Protecting Fertility at work
Your employer should already have health and safety procedures in place for high-risk environments. It’s important to follow these procedures and don’t take shortcuts.
Always follow correct instructions and wear the proper protective gear.
If you are concerned about your work environment, speak to human resources, health and safety department or your work union.
5. Medical Health
Your Partners medical health will have a big impact on his fertility. Having a close look at everything before you start TTC can save a lot of heartaches and waiting.
This is what he needs to look into:
Your partner’s family health can shed light on any issue that may crop up. If his parents struggled to conceive the issue may be inherited. It’s not really an issue you may want to discuss with parents, but any significant medical and genetic history are important.
Any inherited family conditions should be noted as these may be passed on to your baby.
Your Partner should see a doctor before TTC if you have a known or previous medical conditions. This includes:
- Genetic conditions
- Hormone imbalance
- Previous surgery or injury to the penis or testicles
- Previous cancers
- Existing pain, discomfort or lumps in penis, testicles or prostate
It’s important he has a review of any medication before you try for a baby. There are medications that are known to cause issues with male fertility. Common treatments include:
- Steroids for asthma
- Heart medications
- Fungal treatments,
- Acid reflux treatment,
- Blood pressure medication
- chrons medication
- Arthritis treatment
Your partner should always discuss any prescription medication with his doctor. He should never discontinue use without medical advice.
6. Sexual Health
Most male infertility is caused by issues affecting the male sex organs, hormones or sperm. A health check or physical exam will flag any problems before you begin TTC.
Your partner should seek medical advice if he is having issues with a sexual function such as low sex drive, erection or ejaculation problems.
These issues will make it very difficult or impossible to get pregnant.
It’s important your partner is being treated for any sexually transmitted diseases before you start having unprotected sex. Not only can you pass this on to you, but also your baby.
Gonorrhoea and chlamydia are known to cause infertility if not treated. Other untreated STD’s can be extremely harmful in pregnancy or to your newborn baby.
Problems with sperm quality, motility, shape, and count can all lower your chances of getting pregnant.
The most common cause is that sperm count is low or absent. Your doctor won’t usually check for sperm issues unless you have been TTC for at least a year. You buy a home SpermCheck Fertility Test, which is like a pregnancy test. It lets you know within 10 minutes if your partners’ sperm count is normal or low.
7. Fertility Supplements
A balanced diet is the best way for your partner to get essential nutrients. Fertility supplements are a great way to get the recommended levels. This may be harder to achieve if he has allergies, intolerance or follows a special diet.
Your partner should start taking these at least three months before you start TTC. That way the sperm produced in that time will be better quality.
Known to improve sperm motility and reduce defects. Taking a daily 1000mg supplement for two months increased sperm count by 100%. You can find natural sources of Vitamin C in berries, oranges, broccoli, leafy veg and bell peppers.
Low levels of zinc are known to cause infertility. Zinc improves testosterone production which improves sperm quality. A 100-200mg daily zinc supplement is recommended. Up his intake with a diet full of beans, nuts, and seafood
This is a fantastic amino acid that helps all aspects of male fertility. It promotes blood flow for erections and improves sperm motility. Aim to take a daily supplement of 4-8g a day. Good dietary sources include egg yolks, pork, chicken, and turkey.
A good multivitamin like Fertilaid is a simple way to get all these nutrients in one supplement.
8. Mental Health
It’s common knowledge that men are bad at dealing with their feelings. They are more likely to bottle things up and suffer mental health in silence. Trying for a baby can be extremely stressful on men too. It can trigger depression, anxiety, and poor self-image. These suggestions will help your partner cope when trying for a baby.
It is now known that stress can lower sperm count and quality. When the body is stressed it effects your hormone. In men, this means a lowering of testosterone.
Trying for a baby can put stress on your partner due to the need to ‘perform’. He may feel nervous that his manhood is now being tested.
The good news is that sex is a stress reliever. As a couple, talk about how to keep things fun in the bedroom.
If your partner is known to have mental health issues he needs the right support.
This will depend on what the issue is and how severe it affects him. He may need to see a doctor for diagnosis and medication. Counseling and therapy are also great ways to discuss his mental health problems.
Work together and encourage him to be open. You can get him to sign up for online groups where he can speak to men in the same situation.
It is essential your partner takes time to rest and relax when TTC. This will help him to sleep better, manage stress and improve his sperm quality.
Organize times when you both have some alone time doing your own thing. Then arrange dates so you can spend quality time relaxing together.
Great ways to de-stress are hobbies, playing an instrument, exercise or meditation. He might even want to try adult coloring books or even blogging/journaling about his TTC journey.
9. Everyday Life
It’s best to get your partner to think about his general lifestyle and the small changes he can make to make TTC a lot quicker.
Beat the Heat
The testicles hand outside the body for a reason. It’s because sperm needs to be cooler to survive. Get your partner to think about whether he is regularly overheating his groin. For example, does he drive to work, sit all day, come home and sit with a laptop on his groin then take a hot bath? Individually these things won’t affect sperm, but when they are added together and done daily that’s going to cause problems for your partner.
All fertility experts agree on one thing – lack of ejaculation is very bad for sperm health. Although a daily release won’t hurt, it’s best for him to do it every 3 days. This improves sperm health and gets rid of defective sperm to replace it with new and healthy ones. You don’t need to have full sex every time, but it can be fun for you to give him a helping hand.
As a nation, we use a lot more plastics than ever before. The effect this has on male fertility is out for debate. Plastics are known to cause hormone imbalances. It’s unlikely this is severe enough to cause any problems but it not a bad idea to try and cut down on using them.
Food and drink are subject to a lot of plastic use. Great alternatives to use are BPA free plastics, glass or stainless steel containers or bottles.