When you’re trying to conceive with little success, it’s sometimes a surprise to find out the problem lies with your male partner. The most frequent fertility problem men encounter is low sperm count. Many times, the first step in trying to increase that count is to make a few lifestyle changes.
Diet Makes a Difference
What you might think of as eating well isn’t always the best diet to increase sperm count. While you may be tempted to up your man’s calcium intake, a March 2009 study published in “Fertility and Sterility” reported that men who eat a lot of yogurt and drink whole milk produce less sperm than those who drink skim milk. Instead, reach for water to keep him hydrated and to wash down a multi-vitamin containing zinc, folic acid and selenium, all nutrients that help to improve sperm quality and motility (sperm’s ability to move). Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, eggs and nuts will ensure he’s getting enough antioxidants, vitamins C and E and the essential amino-acid arginine. All help to minimize sperm damage and maximize production.
Keeping cool, both literally and figuratively, will serve him well. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can decrease sexual function and affect the hormones that produce sperm. Hot tubs, saunas, overly vigorous exercise and–believe it or not–his underwear can heat him up as well. These factors can increase scrotal temperature, which leads to lower sperm counts and less motility. So take your vacations in cool climates and trade those tight underwear for a pair of boxer shorts.
Now is the time to lose some weight and start exercising. A study in the January 2010 issue of “Fertility and Sterility” reported that obesity is linked to poorer sperm quality and fewer motile sperm. The good news is that losing some weight reverses this effect. Exercising will not only improve overall health and help your man lose some weight, but may also increase his libido, thereby increasing sperm production. A word of caution: Exercising too strenuously can change hormone levels, negatively affecting sperm quality.
Timing Is Everything
The time of day, frequency and season during which you have sex may make a difference in terms of sperm count. Sperm counts tend to be higher in cooler weather and lower in warmer weather. They also are higher in the morning than in the afternoon, and with a few days’ rest in between bouts of intercourse. Although it may not be practical to wait for the right season, having sex every two to three mornings may increase sperm count and fertility.
Avoid Toxic Influences
Smoking, drinking and taking drugs, even some that have been prescribed, can all have adverse effects on sperm count. A 2007 issue of “Cancer Research” reported that smoking can damage sperm and the DNA it contains, while both alcohol and caffeine can decrease sperm count, quality and motility. Illegal drugs have not only been tied to abnormalities in sperm, but they can also cause erectile dysfunction and other sexual function problems. Some blood pressure medications, chemotherapy drugs and immunosuppressants can have similar effects–so if he’s taking any, it’s best to speak with the doctor before you begin trying to conceive.