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Navigating Male Fertility: Improve Your Sperm Health This Men's Health Month

Dr. Nidhee Sachdev pictured with patients and their children at our annual reunion event

June is Men's Health Month, and Men's Health Week is traditionally the week leading up to Father's Day—a day that can be emotionally complicated for many. Let's take a look at men's health facts, specifically related to infertility, sperm quality, and conception—and what you may be able to do to optimize your chances of conceiving using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

How Is Male Fertility Evaluated?

So, let's talk about how we test male fertility. We usually start with a semen analysis, where we check the sperm count, movement, and shape. This test gives us a lot of important information. We might also do hormone blood tests to understand more about how your body is producing sperm. Sometimes, we also do genetic evaluations to check for any issues that could affect fertility.

Does Diet Affect Fertility?

Your diet can actually play a role in your fertility. Obesity, for example, has been linked to reduced sperm production. It's important to maintain a healthy weight. Antioxidants, like vitamins E and C, found in fruits and vegetables, can also help improve sperm count and motility.

What Are the Effects of Smoking and Recreational Drug Use?

Smoking can have a negative impact on sperm quality, so if you smoke and you're trying to conceive, it's a good idea to quit. Recreational drugs, including marijuana and anabolic steroids, can also affect sperm function and should be avoided—including CBD and other hemp derivatives. We don't have enough research yet to know the effects on fertility, one way or another.

The Age-Old Question: Boxers or Briefs?

There's some debate about whether wearing briefs or boxers is better for fertility. Some studies suggest that briefs can raise the temperature around the scrotum, which might affect sperm quality. Opting for boxers could potentially help in this regard. It's also a good idea to avoid activities that raise scrotal temperature, like using hot tubs or laptops on your lap, as this could also impact sperm quality.

How Often Should a Couple Have Intercourse?

When it comes to optimizing fertility, regular intercourse is key. It's generally recommended to aim for two to three times a week during the fertile period. If you're trying to conceive, having intercourse every one to two days during the fertile window can increase your chances, especially in the six days leading up to ovulation.

Are There Sexual Practices That Can Improve Our Chances of Conceiving?

Some people wonder if certain sexual practices can help conception. The truth is, the position during intercourse doesn't seem to make a big difference. Sperm can reach the fallopian tubes pretty quickly no matter what position you're in. There's also no evidence to suggest that orgasm or resting after intercourse affects your chances. However, it's a good idea to avoid using certain lubricants like saliva, olive oil, or KY Jelly during the fertile period, as they can slow down sperm. If you need lubrication, it's best to ask me about safe options.

What Are Our Chances of Conceiving?

The chances of conceiving can vary, but in general, about 20% to 37% of couples conceive within three months, 75% within six months, and 90% within a year. If you haven't conceived within a year of trying, about 50% of couples will conceive in the following year. If you're having trouble conceiving, it's a good idea to see a fertility specialist. About 20% of infertility cases are due to male factors alone, and another 30% involve both male and female factors.

Sources and Helpful Links

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