Sometimes it’s him, not you: The importance of sperm health in conceiving a baby
You know all about how to help your chances when it comes to trying to conceive a baby, but it’s not just you that has to address your lifestyle choices. Sperm health is important and your partner needs to act too, so that he can make sure his reproductive system is in peak condition to help those swimmers swim their way to victory.
There are plenty of myths out there about what can harm a man’s sperm quality. The rumour that cycling can cause scrotum damage, for example, appears to be wildly exaggerated, based on a very small study about men who cycled at least 3,000 miles a year. Other studies have found that cycling has no impact on fertility – and indeed exercise is said to be widely beneficial for male fertility. Another one is the radiation from his mobile phone impacting sperm quality, which appears to have mixed findings in research. So while further study is needed, it could well be worth your chap removing his phone in his front pocket and finding a new home for it, further away from his nether regions…
And while there will always be myths, there are also plenty of hard facts on how to help a man’s reproductive health.
How to have healthy sperm
1) Be nutrient savvy
Getting a healthy balanced diet is crucial when trying to conceive, so make sure your chap joins you and ditches the junk. Omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish such as mackerel and salmon (chia, hemp and flax seeds, plus edamame and kidney beans are good sources for vegans) help to increase blood flow and enhance sperm quality.
Studies have shown that a lack of zinc can be associated with low testosterone and poor quality sperm, which means it’s a perfect time to crack out the oysters because, not only are they an apparent aphrodisiac, they also contain more zinc per serving than any other food. However, they don’t float everybody’s boat, so zinc is also found in meat, fish and eggs and in whole grains, nuts, beans and chickpeas. Indeed, nuts are good for a man’s, um, nuts in myriad ways – with a special mention reserved for walnuts because a study showed that 75g of walnuts per day improved sperm vitality, motility and morphology in a group of healthy, young men eating a Western-style diet.
Vitamins are never not important, but they’re more essential than ever when trying to conceive – their antioxidants can help protect sperm from cellular damage and, vitamin C and E in particular, are said to slightly increase sperm count and mobility. Vitamin E is abundant in mangoes, avocados, spinach and broccoli, while excellent sources of vit C are oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit and kiwi fruit.
2) Keep things light and breezy downstairs
While women’s bits are tucked away discreetly, there’s a reason a man’s testicles are proudly on display – because they need to be kept cooler than the rest of them to produce good quality sperm. There isn’t any solid research proving that those tight pants he likes to sport affect sperm quality, but it is thought restrictive underwear can increase testicle temperature by 1˚C, so investing in some breezier cotton drawers is worth it –because NHS UK recommend wearing loose-fitting underwear like boxer shorts when trying to conceive.
They also suggest moving around regularly if you sit still for long periods, and taking breaks in the fresh air. Laying off the saunas and hot tubs would be wise as well because prolonged exposure to excessive temperatures isn’t good for the sperm and, for every one degree rise, sperm production can drop as much as 40% (though not permanently, we hasten to add).
3) Take a male fertility supplement
Taking a preconception supplement to support fertility is every bit as important for men as for women. Men should start taking these supplements three to six months before conception to set the stage for their sperm. Developed by fertility, nutrition and medical experts using clinical science behind the addition of every ingredient, Proceive® has a conception range for your partner as well as one for you to make sure he has all his nutritional bases covered when you’re trying to conceive.
Proceive® Men is for men under 40, while Proceive® Max Men is for those over 40, or for anyone who has been trying to conceive for over 12 months. Proceive® Men contains 26 amino acids, vitamins and minerals to support the nutritional needs of a man’s reproductive system and includes selenium, zinc, and vitamin D. Let’s face it – there is no downside to being your healthiest self while trying to conceive with your partner.
4) Clean out your medicine cabinet
Certain blood pressure medicines and antidepressants can affect sperm, as can chemotherapy drugs, and some antibiotics if taken over an extended period. Even certain hair loss drugs can have an impact on his swimmers. Of course, it is imperative that your partner discusses your desire to conceive when being prescribed medicine, and he should never stop taking any medication before discussing it with his doctor.
Anabolic steroids and testosterone therapy should definitely be avoided when trying to conceive – they harm male fertility because they interfere with the hormone signals needed to produce sperm (though the good news is that most men will recover sperm production by a maximum of 12 months after they stop).
5) Ditch the smokes – and limit the booze
While he doesn’t need to stop drinking all together (though it might be nice if he did so to support you, right?), studies have shown that heavy alcohol use can decrease the production of testosterone, which harms sperm production and mobility. The NHS recommends that prospective fathers need to stay within the recommended guidelines of the UK Chief Medical Officer – so no more than 14 units per week spread over at least three days.
Smoking also has a negative impact on your sperm production and the movement of sperm, so he absolutely should give up, and he definitely needs to bin those spliffs if he’s partial. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana interferes with the production of testosterone and can also directly affect sperm’s mobility. It can also weaken your man’s libido.
Any other recreational drugs should be banished too. Long-term use of opiates can disrupt the signals that control testosterone production, thus diminishing both the quantity and quality of sperm.
What else should men do when trying for a baby?
DO remember you’re getting healthy along the way
Essentially, all the lifestyle tweaks that prospective dads need to make to promote their sperm health – from keeping a healthy body weight and getting all the right nutrients, (supplement if you need to), to quitting smoking and getting the booze in check – are a win-win all round for their wellness.
DO enjoy sex
Let’s face it, most men don’t need any encouragement to have sex. And now there’s a potentially life-enhancing reason to do it more than ever before, it’s like Christmas. Your best chance of conceiving is to have sex every 2 or 3 days all through the month. Just don’t forget the romance and don’t make it clinical.
DO spend quality time together
If you’re lucky enough to conceive a baby together, life will never be the same again. You’re likely to be feeling out of sorts – exhausted at the very least – during pregnancy so, while you’re still trying, use this time to get out and about while you still can. Go to see that play, eat at that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, take that mini-break to Berlin. Because once you have a little bundle to look after, well, we don’t need to spell it out for you…
Proceive® is a multi-award winning range of scientifically formulated fertility and pregnancy supplements for men and women. Offering the most comprehensive formulas available Proceive® was developed by fertility experts to support the nutritional needs of the body when trying for a baby and throughout pregnancy.
Proceive® is available from Boots and Holland & Barrett, find out more at Proceive.com