On the topic of conception, many presume it's only women who need to prepare for pregnancy. The truth is it takes two to tango. Men also need to be involved in preparing their bodies for a healthy pregnancy.
Here we share pregnancy tips for men and tips on how men can get themselves fertility fit shape and prepare for conception.
Couples are often surprised to hear that in approximately 40 per cent of cases where couples have trouble conceiving, it can be attributed to a male issue. Quite often the quality or quantity of sperm is compromised.
What main factors determine male fertility?
According to Sydney fertility specialist Dr Raewyn Teirney a variety of factors from lifestyle to environment and genetics can affect a man's fertility. The biggest factor for male fertility is the quality of the sperm produced.
- 1. The quantity of sperm produced. A healthy ejaculation contains around 39−60 million sperm. If a man isn't producing enough sperm, the chance of conception can be significantly reduced.
- 2. The quality and mobility of the sperm. A healthy sperm has an oval head and a long tail. A sperm with abnormalities in shape, such as a curled tail, is less likely to fertilise an egg. The sperm also has to move in a forward progressive movement and be capable of swimming through the cervix and the fallopian tube to reach the egg.
- 3. The ability of the sperm to leave the male. Sometimes, sperm face an obstruction that prevents them from leaving the male reproductive system, or there may be an erectile problem.
Tips for healthy sperm and improving overall wellbeing
There are many ways in which a man can improve the health of his sperm: Below are some of the recommendations.
1. Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) - being overweight can affect sperm quality
2. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
3. Don't smoke or take recreational drugs, as both can affect sperm health and may impair sex drive
4. Some prescription medications can affect the health of sperm. Check with your family doctor
5. Warm temperatures can affect the ability of the testes to produce sperm. Avoid exposure to excess heat, such as spas, saunas and hot baths
6. Eat healthy. A well-balanced diet provides the body with all the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to encourage healthy sperm production.
7. Regular ejaculation helps improve sperm quality. The theory is that sperm are less likely to be 'waiting' and therefore less likely to be damaged by free radicals
8. Get any health problems under control with the help of your family doctor
9. Clinical studies show that men who eat antioxidant rich food have improved sperm numbers and improved swimmers. Consider taking a vitamin supplement rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, E, Selenium, Zinc, Garlic, which supports male fertility and sperm health.
10. Get regular exercise. It will help with general well being, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress and perhaps improve sex drive.
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- Silver EEW. Effect of antioxidant intake on sperm chromatin stability in healthy non smoking men. J Androl 2005, 26:550-1336
- Wogatzky J, Wirleitner B et al. The combination matters- distinct impact of lifestyle factors on sperm quality: a study on semen analysis of 1683 patients according to MSOME criteria. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2012, 10:115-
- M. Blomberg Jensen et al. Vitamin D is positively associated with sperm motility and increases intracellular calcium in human spermatozoa. Human Reproduction 2011, 26 (6): 1307-1317
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- Showell MG, Brown J et al. Antioxidants for male subfertility. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011 Jan 19 (1)