Many people think of fertility as being a woman’s problem, but in about half of couples who are experiencing infertility, a male factor can be the issue. There are number of ways in which male infertility can be a problem; most of which are related to the number and quality of sperm that are produced. For example, low sperm count, poor motility (movement), altered sperm shape (morphology) and even a genetic issue that deteriorates the sperm can be the cause of male factor infertility.
The good news is that in many cases there are things that you can do to increase the quality of your sperm. Here are BodaHealth’s 19 tips:
- When it comes to fertility, hot tubs are not your friend. The excessive heat can raise the temperature of your testicles and affect sperm production.
- Your underwear matters. Wear natural fibre underwear, such as cotton or merino wool, because underwear made from some synthetic materials can trap heat and raise the temperature of your testicles.
- While tight pants may be a great look, they can affect your fertility. That’s because tight clothes constrict your testicles, and a snug fit can position them too close to your body, also raising their temperature.
- Ditch the alcohol. While an occasional drink may not make a huge difference in your fertility, regular drinking can increase estrogen production by your liver, which decreases your sperm count. Also, alcohol acts as a toxin to the sperm producing cells in your testicles.
- In addition to cutting down on your alcohol consumption, know that recreational drugs, such as marijuana, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines and steroid use for muscle building can be a cause of male factor infertility. These drugs can negatively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis in your brain that controls your body’s hormones, can reduce sperm function, affect testicular structure and decrease sex drive.
- Check your medications. Opioid-based pain medications, blood pressure medications and antidepressants can affect the quality of your sperm. While some medications and chemotherapy may be unavoidable, it’s important to know that it can impact your fertility—sometimes for the long run. Some men opt to bank their sperm before undergoing chemotherapy.
- Quit smoking. Researchers have found that smoking reduces your fertility by reducing sperm motility and by undermining your overall health.
- Get help for sexual problems. Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and low libido can reduce fertility and are usually treatable.
- Enough but not too much. Having intercourse both too often or not enough can affect both sperm count and quality. The sweet spot? About every three to four days.
- Keep your weight in check. Scientists have found that overweight men are more likely to have lower sperm counts than men who are not overweight.
- Sleep has a sweet spot, too. Sleeping too little, less than six hours a night, and oversleeping more than nine hours can affect the quality of your sperm. The ideal amount of sleep is 7-9 hours a night.
- Pay attention to your overall health. Conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic illness and injuries all can have a negative impact on your sperm production and quality.
- Get your stress under control. Studies have found that stressed out men are more likely to have lower sperm counts, decreased testosterone, as well as a higher risk for sperm motility issues and abnormal sperm production.
- Though men have fathered children beyond their 60s, your age can also be a factor in the viability of your sperm. It’s become more common to wait to have children, but this can come with a downside for male factor fertility. After about the age of 35, declining sperm quality can be an issue not only in the ability to conceive, but it may also increase the risk for miscarriage.
- What you eat can affect your sperm. A high fat diet can negatively affect male fertility. In addition, nutrients such as zinc, selenium, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants are a part of a diet that supports sperm health for men. At BodaHealth, our holistic nutritionist can work with you to assess your diet and create a plan to optimize your fertility.
- Acupuncture is also a good choice for treating male factor infertility. Scientists have discovered that acupuncture can improve sperm motility, morphology, fertilization rate, and embryo quality in assisted reproductive treatments (such as IVF). Acupuncture is also an effective treatment for reducing stress, which is commonly a factor in both men’s and women’s infertility.
- Chinese herbal medicine may also help improve fertility outcomes for men. Herbs are an effective way to support acupuncture treatments or as a stand-alone therapy to address the underlying causes of fertility problems.
- Naturopathic medicine can address a variety of issues that may be leading to male infertility. At BodaHealth, our naturopathic physician can assess any nutrient deficiencies, digestive problems, testosterone levels and uncover any toxic substances or heavy metals that may be negatively affecting your fertility status. Naturopathic treatments may involve vitamin, nutrient or herbal supplementation, and dietary recommendations.
- Get a massage. It’s a great way to relieve stress, and high levels of stress can have a negative effect on your fertility. Not only that, it loosens up tense muscles and feels great!
Like many health conditions, the solution to male infertility may involve a combination of small changes and treatments. At BodaHealth, our practitioners are experienced in working with men who are experiencing fertility issues and are able to offer you a wide variety of treatment options. For more information about male fertility, give us a call today.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.