When they’re planning a baby, most couples want to conceive as quickly as possible. She’ll start to take folic acid supplements, track her fertile days – that kind of thing. He does…well, not much. That’s not meant as a slur – the focus simply tends to be around the hopeful mum-to-be and her fertility. Yet conception is shared 50/50 – so all you potential dads should be giving your little swimmers a hand. If you want strong and healthy sperm, you need to follow our advice.
1Look after your general health
There are all kinds of reasons why a healthy male might have poor sperm. But why would you expect an unhealthy man to have a better chance of fathering a healthy child?
The bottom line is, things that are bad for your health generally are also bad for your sperm. If you need us to spell it out, the obvious culprits are tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Take a look at your diet, too – you should be eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg, lean protein, good carbs, and healthy fats.
If you’re not looking after yourself, you’re not looking after your sperm.
2Fight the flab
If you’re overweight, you’re harming your chances of making a baby. Fat around your middle heats up the testes – which in turn will cause a drop in the amount of sperm your body produces.
Renowned male fertility expert Dr. Phillip Werthman explains: “Fat is bad for the pistons in your body. When people are fat they start to have what is called a metabolic syndrome where their metabolism is off and toxins build up. Men who are obese tend to have low testosterone and high oestrogen levels – that’s bad for sperm.”
3Don’t overdo the exercise
It might sound counter-intuitive, given what we’ve just said about fat – but too much exercise can cause male fertility issues too. We’re not talking about putting in a bit of extra effort for a fun run or the local 5k race – that shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re regularly training for marathons, triathlons, ‘iron man’ competitions or the Tour de France, for example, that’s another story.
Doing lots of cardio work means you’re likely to have a lot of body heat and not much body mass. And, guess what? Yep. That means you’ll produce fewer sperm.
4Watch out for supplements
If you’re undergoing fertility treatment, you’ll likely be given special supplements. Stick to them. Don’t try changing them or boosting them with your own ideas.
Many men, for example, assume a testosterone supplement can only help their chances of making a baby. Not so, says Dr. Werthman: “Testosterone doesn’t increase fertility. You have to have a reasonable amount that your body’s making. If it comes from the outside world, it’ll actually stop fertility.”
5Cut out the caffeine
A study in Denmark found that over-consumption of caffeine resulted in a slightly reduced sperm count among participants. While opinion is still divided over the true effects, it makes sense to err on the side of caution here.
That doesn’t mean you have to abstain entirely – some caffeine is fine and has been shown to improve sperm motility. But try not to have more than 300ml of caffeine a day – whether that’s from coffee, energy drinks or any other source.
6Keep your cool
Sperm thrives in an environment just two or three degrees below your core body temperature. Essentially, that means making sure your testicles aren’t too hot. If you’re a fan of hot tubs, then that’s bad news – you need to stay away.
A more common problem comes from electronic devices – laptops, tablets, hand-held games consoles. If you rest them on your lap, the heat they generate will have the same effect as a hot tub. Better to rest them on a table or cushion.
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