As couples prepare for pregnancy, it is easy to focus only on the woman’s health. However, there are several items that are critical for men also. The father's health also affects his fertility and the quality of the sperm he produces. Here are some tips for fathers-to-be who are trying to have a baby.
Do I smoke?
If you are smoker, stop smoking. Research shows that smoking decreases the quality of the sperm that you produce. It does this by reducing the density of the sperm and by decreasing its motility1. Motility is the sperm's ability to move around. Both are important factors in fertility as the more the sperm and the more their ability to be mobile and seek the egg, the better the chances of conception.
And remember, even if you and your wife conceive a baby, your smoking continues to be dangerous to you, your wife and your baby.
How much do I use my mobile phone?
There is no conclusive research that mobile phones can affect male fertility. However, one study in 20072, exposed rats to 6 hours of mobile phone emissions every day for 18 weeks and found that their sperm deteriorated in quality. So why take a chance? You may want to carry that mobile in your hand for a while rather than in your waist pocket.
Are my clothes too tight?
It is generally accepted that an increase in temperature of your genitals will reduce the quality and production of your sperm. Tight clothes (underwear or outer wear) may form a heat enclosure around your genitals and increase their temperature. This maybe worse in parts of India which have higher temperature or if you are sitting down a lot. As a general rule, do not wear clothes that are too tight around your genitals.
Do I sit for too long at work?
If you are sitting a lot during work - like working in front of the computer etc., or riding your motorcyle a lot - you should take more breaks. You can walk about or go have a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of water. Research shows that a continued sedentary position can result in increased heat in your genitals and is not good for sperm quality and production3.
Do I take long hot showers/baths?
If you spend a lot of time taking very hot showers or hot baths in bathtubs or in the jacuzzi, you may be heating up your genitals. Try and cut back on the duration of the bath and temperature of the water.
Do I drink alcohol or use drugs or steroids?
This is obvious. Use of alcohol or drugs or steroids (for body building etc.,) has been shown to reduce sperm production in men. Stop consuming these immediately. If you have been a drug user or a steroid user, you may also want to consult your doctor.
Do I take medicines prescribed by a doctor?
If you are on a regular course of medicines for a different affliction or illness, as prescribed by a doctor, please discuss your plans to have a baby with your doctor. Certain medicines may affect your fertility and your doctor maybe able to prescribe alternatives.
Am I reasonably fit ?
Research has shown that overweight or obesity can affect male fertility4. If you are overweight, it is time to start working on your fitness. Moreover, it is always wise to maintain a moderate weight and exercise (Atleast 3 to 4 times a week for 30 minutes each to stay fit). Moderating your weight and getting the required exercise will also improve your overall fitness besides improving your fertility.
Am I stressed?
There is not a lot of research that ties together stress with male fertility. But as we all know, stress affects sexual performance and the desire for sex. Conventional wisdom also says that a relaxed couple have a better chance of becoming pregnant. Also remember that your stress can reflect itself on your wife and she may get stressed too. Stress can often inhibit sexual desire and instead of enjoying it, you may be more mechanical during sex. This may end up making the whole experience a chore rather than a pleasure.
If you are stressed, find ways of letting the weight off your chest. Fitness routines can help. Yoga is a good way to relax. You can also try to listen to soothing music or read a good book and get those worries off your mind.
Finally, do keep in mind that having a baby is a wonderful thing. Wonderful things do take effort from all of us and sometimes, they take a little time. When you decide to have a baby, inspect your lifestyle, make any necessary changes, relax and go with the flow. Enjoy the experience and you will surely succeed. Good luck.
1. Kulikauskas V, Blaustein D, Ablin RJ. "Cigarette smoking and its possible effects on sperm.",Fertil Steril. 1985 Oct;44(4):526-8
2. Yan JG, Agresti M, Bruce T, Yan YH, Granlund A, Matloub HS. "Effects of cellular phone emissions on sperm motility in rats."Fertil Steril. 2007 Oct;88(4):957-64. Epub 2007 Jul 12.
3. Hjollund NH, Bonde JP, Jensen TK, Olsen J. "Semen quality and sedentary work position", Int J Androl. 2004 Feb;27(1):5-11
4. Ruby H.N. Nguyen , Allen J. Wilcox , Rolv Skjærven , and Donna D. Baird, "Men's body mass index and infertility",Hum. Reprod. Advance Access published on July 17, 2007