When it comes to infertility, there is no such thing as blame. Numerous factors can impact a couple’s ability to have children, and sometimes those factors are related to male reproductive health. Common reasons for male infertility include low sperm count, hormonal issues, lifestyle factors (such as stress, excess weight, smoking, and alcohol abuse), infection, scarring, birth defects, pollution, chemotherapy/radiation, increased age, and certain medications.
In order to figure out what is causing your infertility, your doctor will have to rule out the above factors to pinpoint the cause. In the meantime, here is what you can do to promote healthy reproductive habits:
Make healthier choices. It doesn’t matter how young you are, an unhealthy lifestyle will detract from your fertility. A poor diet can lead to excess weight, which is bad for your fertility — but even if you aren’t overweight, your food choices will still impact your ability to have children. For example, some research has shown that men who consume a lot of dairy experience more fertility problems than men who do not, presumably because today’s dairy products are often chock-full of hormones. Saturated fats and trans fats can also be problematic for your body’s proper functioning, so try to eat a diet of unprocessed whole foods. Look for fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. And, of course, quit smoking and limit your alcohol use.
Beware of environmental factors. Pollution has been linked to decreased male fertility. Pesticides and water pollution have been shown to lead to anti-androgens (chemicals that detract from the body’s ability to produce testosterone), and this can complicate male fertility. Additionally, laptop use has also been linked to fertility issues, particularly in men who spend hours with their laptops sitting on their laps. The heat produced by the computer is believed to negatively impact sperm (indeed, the reason sperm is produced by the testes is because it needs to be kept at a cooler temperature than the rest of the body), so it’s important to limit laptop use or place your laptop on a desk where it won’t affect sperm production. Talk to your doctor about other factors to be aware of as well.
Exercise for baby. Exercise can help to boost testosterone production, an important hormone in reproductive health, so getting physical activity will be key in upping your fertility chances. Additionally, exercise has also been shown to decrease stress and promote better sleep, all of which can lead to a healthier, happier you.
The medical side of things. Certain medicines can impact male fertility, as can cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. It’s important to talk to your doctor about these concerns, and it is also important to have your hormone levels and your sperm levels tested. Sperm motility (which is the ability of the sperm to swim and move as necessary) and sperm production is of course essential when it comes to creating a baby, so rule out any problems with these areas right away.
Although assessment and treatment for fertility issues can be demanding, know that it is all for a great cause!