For many reasons, society in general tends to place so much responsibility for fertility on women.
This is most unfortunate as the female partner often ends up carrying the burden for a whole host of issues including unexplained infertility, difficulty conceiving and miscarriage.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in six couples is reported to experience fertility issues.
40% of these cases are attributed to male fertility issues i.e. the health of the sperm.
Despite these figures, and even though sperm constitutes 50% of the future baby’s DNA and cellular material, many men are under the false impression that fertility is solely a ‘woman’s issue’ and may take very little part in collaborating with their partner to share the responsibility.
When couples come to see me, I like to treat them as a unit right from the beginning. I often spend quite a bit of time explaining the facts and they are always extremely grateful and happy to share the responsibility.
Sperm is generated during the preconception period and is extremely vulnerable to physiological hazards and environmental toxins present during this time. It takes approximately 72-76 days (2-3 months) for sperm to develop, mature, be stored and ready for ejaculation. So you can see why this period of time is so important for the eventual health of the embryo, foetus, baby and child.
Some men unfortunately suffer from certain physiological issues which may need medical intervention and assisted reproductive technologies. Andrology Australia have a wonderfully informative website with explicit, factual explanations, resources, advice and guidance.
However, for the majority of men, there are many things that can be done to improve the health of their sperm and consequently boost their chances of fathering a healthy baby.
1. Cook your own Food and Keep your Weight Healthy
A healthy, wholefood diet consisting mostly of plants has been proven time and again to improve health and fertility.
Overweight and obese men have lower sperm quality, lower testosterone levels and are at increased risk of erectile dysfunction than men with healthy weight.
2. Do NOT smoke or take recreational drugs.
Sperm count can decrease by up to 20% in smokers.
And the sperm produced may also be abnormal – chemicals in cigarette smoke and recreational drugs damage sperm DNA, making it harder to fertilise the egg, as well as disrupting the pregnancy (causing miscarriage) or affecting the health of the future baby.
3. Watch your Alcohol Consumption.
Heavy drinking causes impotence, reduces libido, and affects sperm DNA.
Many men don’t consider the amount they drink to be ‘heavy’ and compare themselves with others who might drink even more than they do.
According to the latest research, consuming more than 100g alcohol per week (3-4 drinks) is considered to affect your health and hence your fertilty.
4. Keep Cool
The reason men’s testicles are outside their body is because the normal internal body temperature (36C) is too high for sperm production and survival. This is the reason hot baths, spas, saunas and tight jocks/jeans aren’t healthy and should be avoided by men trying to conceive.
NB. Research on exposure to electromagnetic fields eg. mobile phones and laptops are proving to be an issue for the same reasons.
5. Keep Fit
Moderate exercise 3-4 times per week is known to improve sperm morphology, volume, quality and quantity. Being sedentary can negatively impact on fertility.
Excessive training and long distance bike riding can unfortunately negatively impact fertility.
11-17th June is Men’s Health Week in Australia