OC Fertility recognizes that infertility is not necessarily “just a woman’s health issue” but also impacts men's health. In more than one-third of cases, sperm-related issues contribute to infertility in a couple.
One way to diagnose male factor fertility issues is through a diagnostic test called a semen analysis. This non-invasive test allows us to evaluate the concentration, motility, and shape of the sperm to better assess if or how there may be a male factor component to infertility.
For men concerned about male factor fertility, there are some steps one can take to optimize sperm health. Here are five ways to optimize male fertility for those pursuing fertility treatment or trying to optimize their natural fertility.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
For both men and women, your overall weight can contribute to your health, specifically reproductive health. Being overweight can affect both the quantity and quality of sperm. Excess weight in men may result in the metabolism of testosterone to estrogen via their fat cells, which can contribute towards lower sperm counts. Healthy diets and regular exercise play a big role in maintaining healthy body weight and should be modified to help lower BMI.
Even for those who fall within normal BMI, it’s recommended to spend 30 minutes daily for at least five days a week doing moderate activity. This can include walking, riding a bike, or participating in a fitness class at your local gym.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
The food we eat can also impact the quality and quantity of sperm, so it’s important to have a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. All of these foods can help boost semen quality.
Avoiding or limiting processed meats, caffeine, red meat, and trans fats is ideal for helping with sperm quality. This diet change doesn’t have to occur overnight, but making small swaps throughout the day for healthier options is a good start.
Quit Smoking As Soon As Possible
Smoking has been known to reduce the quality and quantity of sperm and can also cause male sexual dysfunction, including difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection. Although smoking may have long-term health consequences, given that sperm is being produced at regular intervals, it is possible to see improvements in sperm counts after quitting smoking. Regardless of the length of time you have smoked in the past, quitting smoking today will have a positive effect on your overall health, including reproductive health.
Even secondhand smoke is quite toxic and can affect those around you, including your partner and their fertility, so it’s ideal for both partners to quit smoking. It’s important to be supportive of each other when trying to quit.
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Excessive alcohol use can hinder fertility for both men and women, so it’s important to evaluate how much is consumed each week and determine if that should be reduced. Patients don’t need to stop drinking while undergoing treatment, but limiting their consumption to three or fewer drinks a week can help improve outcomes, including libido.
Talk to Your Doctor About Medications and Supplements Use
Some medications or supplements taken for reasons outside of fertility could possibly harm sperm quality or quantity. It’s important to let the fertility specialist know of any medication or supplementations you are taking. While some medications are required to maintain general health and can’t be stopped, the doctor can work with you to see your options to optimize sperm health.
Your doctor may also recommend medications or supplements to increase sperm health if they see that it’s right for you.