Did you know that infertility affects about 1 in every 6 couples who are trying to conceive? Research indicates that in almost half of those cases it’s due to complications or issues linked to the male partner’s fertility.
Those rates may seem surprising, as it’s much more common to hear about female infertility (due to conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis). Beyond that, when a couple struggles to conceive the focus is placed more on the woman’s body and her journey through infertility and early loss. But it takes two to make a baby! It’s not just about successful conception but having a healthy sperm and egg, which are needed to create a healthy embryo, a healthy fetus, and eventually a healthy baby. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the causes and incidences of both female, male, and combined infertility. Today, we want to put the focus on the guy in your TTC and pregnancy journey, because regardless of your relationship status that sperm has to come from somewhere!
If you’ve spent any time on Baby2Body or our blog, you probably know how impactful your fitness, nutrition, and emotional wellbeing are when it comes to your reproductive health and baby’s future health. But men play an equally important role in influencing baby’s health as well and we recommend reading 5 Incredible Ways Dad’s Lifestyle Can Promote Baby’s Health for more on that topic. It’s important to know how poor semen quality or unhealthy testosterone levels can lead to male fertility issues and even unviable pregnancies, and how those things can be prevented by addressing some simple lifestyle factors.
While there isn’t always a treatment for infertility (for both men and women), there are some surprising lifestyle contributors that we want you (and the guy in your life) to be aware of so you can give your baby the healthiest start possible.
5 Surprising Ways To Boost Male Fertility
1. Exercise, exercise, exercise
You knew we were going to say that, right? Staying active regularly can help regulate testosterone levels, which play an important role in healthy male fertility. Studies show that men who exercise regularly have healthier semen and a more fertility-friendly hormone environment than men who are more sedentary. However, similarly to females, exercising every day at a very high intensity might have adverse effects, reducing testosterone levels in the long run, so as always it’s about moderation and making exercise a healthy part of your routine.
2. Keep the boys cool
We’re talking testicles! These important components of male reproductive functioning should be about 2˚F cooler than the rest of the body to promote healthy sperm quality and quantity. Reducing exposure to things that increase scrotal temperature might be of benefit when it comes to male fertility. Studies have shown men who use a laptop placed on their lap in a seated position can raise the scrotal temperature by over 2˚F, and while that’s a seemingly small amount, it does appear to be enough to affect fertility negatively.
This is also why some research suggests that men who frequently wear boxers (which are looser and allow for more airflow) tend to have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count than men who frequently wear briefs (which hold the testicles closer to the body). To find out more on that, we consulted our friends over at JustWears, a men’s underwear brand whose designs utilize a ventilated fabric on the underside to offer more space and airflow, while also being 50% more absorbent than cotton. It’s for more than just comfort, as this reduction in heat-trapping and sweat production might help keep his testicles cooler and a more optimal scrotal temperature. Rest assured, underwear choice alone shouldn’t have a major impact on male fertility — but it doesn’t hurt to consider it!
3. Team up on limiting alcohol
You’re probably aware that once pregnant it’s recommended to avoid alcoholic beverages, but it’s also recommended that you start limiting your alcohol intake up to three months before you conceive. And in general, it’s recommended for both the man and woman to follow those guidelines when TTC! Regular drinking not only impacts your fertility levels, but it’s also linked to poorer sperm health and motility, which can make it harder to get pregnant and carry a healthy pregnancy past the early stages. A drink or two on the weekend is likely harmless, but cutting back on regular drinking (and especially heavy drinking for men) is believed to be a benefit to overall fertility.
4. Identify and mitigate stressors
Stress impacts our bodies in so many complex and impactful ways, and just as it can inhibit female fertility it can harm male fertility as well. When we are in stressful situations that require heightened alert and quick reactions, our bodies produce cortisol as a response. When that stress is prolonged (chronic), that cortisol remains in our system at an elevated level. Studies show this hormone tends to lower testosterone, reduce sexual drive and/or satisfaction, and even impair semen quality. Exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness can all help to reduce chronic stress, and thankfully, that’s what we focus on at Baby2Body. Get your partner to join you in the Zen Den on our app for some breathing and meditation exercises!
5. Prioritize healthy sleep
Last week was World Sleep Day and we did a post all about how much sleep you actually need, and the findings here go for your guy too! A study that dug into the link between sleep and male fertility found that sleep deprivation and later bedtimes were linked to reduced fertility. But it’s really about finding that sweet spot when it comes to sleep. The findings suggested that shorter sleep duration (less than 6 hours a night), as well as longer sleep duration (more than 9 hours a night), were related to impaired sperm health. So don’t underestimate the impact of those resting hours!
If you are currently trying for baby, be sure to check out our Trying to Conceive program, available on the Baby2Body app! We offer cycle tracking to help you optimize your chances of conceiving, as well as daily tips to support you and your guy’s reproductive health, plus all the wellness, fitness, and nutrition support that Baby2Body is known for. Download on iOS or Android today!