No man wants to hear that he has a low sperm count or that he has “slow swimmers,” but it happens every day to men that are trying to conceive. If you are in that boat, it does not mean that you will never get your partner pregnant. There are many ways that you can improve your sperm count and their motility on your own. Most of the methods can be done right at home and can have a great impact on your sperm, increasing your chances of getting your partner pregnant. You can start these methods, even before you are ready to actively try to conceive in order to maximize your chances.
Here are our Top 6 Tips:
1. Stay Healthy
The prevalence of obesity is increasing rapidly in Australia and can significantly increase the risk of infertility. Therefore if you are trying to get pregnant, achieving a healthy weight or getting closer to it increases your chance of conceiving. The ideal weight range is different for everyone, but the healthy BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9. If you do not know your BMI, you can calculate it here. Having a lot of extra body fat can be harmful to the environment in which sperm develop, and this too can influence a future baby’s health. Given that sperm is created roughly every 72 days, getting into shape at least 3 months before trying to have a baby can improve the chance of pregnancy.
Some tips to a healthy weight and increasing your chance of pregnancy include:
- Swapping sugary drinks and alcohol for water
- Make half your plate vegetables at lunch and dinner
- Use a smaller plate to help reduce your portion size
- Get moving every-day. Fit in regular physical activity like walking to the shops, taking the stairs and walking with a friend
- Spend less time sitting by getting up regularly while using a computer and swapping ‘screen time’ for other physical activities
- Choose healthy snacks like fruit, low fat yoghurt or a small portion of plain nuts
- Choose reduced-fat diary and lean meat
- Set a realistic weight goal, by aiming for a realistic weight loss goal (e.g. 0.5-1kg per week)
2. Don’t Smoke
Smoking contains harmful chemicals that affect all parts of the body, including the reproductive organs. It is known that male smokers are more likely than their non-smoking male counterparts to be infertile. Heavy smoking fathers (>20 cigarettes per day) at the time of conception, also increases the child’s risk of childhood leukemia. Heavy smokers are also known to produce 20% fewer sperm. The good news is though that the effects of smoking on sperm and fertility are reversible. Talk to your doctor about the right ways to quit that will be effective for you so that you can be successful and avoid medication that could harm your sperm in the long run too.
3. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol consumption in men can impair fertility, however, it is not clear what levels are at risk. But it is known to reduce the likelihood of conception as it can cause impotence, reduce libido and affect sperm quality. This is because increased consumption of alcohol has a direct impact on your testosterone levels, which is the hormone that is necessary for sperm production. Therefore, if you are planning to try it would be ideally recommended to try and limit your alcohol consumption and not binge; or for at least 3 months prior to trying until after conception.
4. Decrease Stress Levels
Psychological stress has been shown to have an effect on male fertility and other aspects of your overall health (i.e. blood pressure and heart disease). It has been associated with a reduced chance of pregnancy and abnormal semen parameters. Men who are experiencing high degrees of psychological stress are less inclined to have sexual intercourse, which obviously means that their chance of conceiving is reduced.
Whilst the extent and severity of the effects of stress on sperm production is difficult to study, it is thought that it’s effect is due to varying testosterone secretion and is more prominent in men with reduced concentration (<20million/mL). Therefore, stress as a causative factor in male fertility cannot be ignored and patients should try to incorporate methods to eliminate stress. All people, cope and manage stress differently, and therefore what works for one person may not work for another. However, methods that may be used to help combat stress include:
- Hit the gym
- Eat & sleep well
- Get Outside
- Avoid stressful situations or take some time off
- Chew gum
- Try meditation or yoga
- Set boundaries
5. Don’t Get Overheated
Although the testicles are efficient at regulating temperature, it important to try to avoid overheating the groin area. This is because exposing the testicles to high temperatures can impair sperm production. This means that avoiding spas, saunas and sitting laptops or other mobile devices on your lap will help reduce the effects of heat on sperm quality. Although there is no clear evidence of the effects of wearing tight underwear on a males fertility, it is still advisable to wear loose-fitted underwear – so grab out those boxers.
6. Watch Environmental Threats
Scientists have begun to investigate the effects that certain chemicals have on our overall health and it has been established that some chemicals in the environment can affect reproductive health. The environmental toxins that we are all exposed to on a daily basis are in the food we eat, the drinks we consume, and items we use in our daily life, and this can be damaging to your sperm. Try to avoid as many toxins as possible by avoiding the use of microwaves, plastic, pesticides, and toxins found in household cleaners and grooming products. Although it is difficult to avoid environmental toxins completely, you can make a conscious effort to reduce your exposure.
Therefore, whenever possible, use natural products that do not contain phthalates, BPA, and pesticides. Clean your home with natural products that advertise that they do not have toxins or use old fashioned vinegar, baking soda, soap, and Borax to safely remove household germs. It is important to remember that although there is an emerging body of scientific literature regarding this topic, there is still no concrete data to date, but at least from following these tips you can help improve your chance of conception.
Using these 6 tips to improve your overall health, will help you create the optimal environment for your sperm. They may or may not work for you, but creating the right environment can help you determine if there is something else wrong inside your body that needs medical attention. Sometimes a blockage, low hormone levels, or deformity that occurred at birth can be the reason for low sperm count or low motility. Infertility specialists can perform a semen analysis to determine the quality of your sperm and determine the best course of treatment, in order to conceive with your partner.
To learn more on semen analysis you can go to http://fertilitysolutions.com.au/treatment-options/semen-analysis-test/.