9 Things That Harm Male Fertility

male-fertilityMale fertility has become more popular in recent years as science and medical discoveries have shown that it can affect conception and fetal health as significantly as a woman’s health can. For men, it doesn’t simply come down to changing their diet, either, although that is a starting point. Here are 11 areas where men can work to significantly improve their personal fertility.

It’s obvious that diet can influence a number of health conditions, and fertility is no exception. The body needs the right nutrients to produce hormones necessary for reproduction. Proper diet can also influence the quality of sperm produced, which can have an affect on the ability to get pregnant and maintain pregnancy. Men should eat diets rich in green vegetables, fruits high in antioxidants (like berries), and omega 3 fats (salmon, nuts, and seeds). They should limit trans fats, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, and any foods that can effect hormones (especially non-organic dairy products and soy).

Without water, the body struggles to function properly on all fronts, and semen/sperm production is no exception. Men should drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water daily, but ideally will consume half their body weight in ounces for more thorough hydration. This isn’t only important for sperm quantity, of course, but for numerous body functions. When dehydrated, the body tends to be constipated. Since the intestines are one of the primary ways for the body to eliminate toxins, a dehydrated body can easily become a toxic body. Toxins can interfere with proper hormone function, so it’s important to stay hydrated to help the body properly be rid of them.

EMF Exposure
Most men have cell phones these days, and some studies are starting to reveal that the electromagnetic fields (EMF) that are generated from cell phones, computers, wifi, and other technology can be harmful to humans. EMF radiation can impair male fertility by reducing sperm counts or reducing sperm quality. More studies need to be done, but findings are already showing that men with the highest cell phone use also have the lowest semen quality. It is important to note that testicles are highly sensitive to EMF radiation, and as such, men should never carry cell phones in any pants pockets, but away from their body if possible. Additionally, reducing cell phone exposure is ideal, and this can be done by not sleeping next to a cell phone and by carrying throughout the day in a briefcase or messenger bag.

Keeping Cool
It’s fairly common knowledge that it’s important to keep the testicles cool since heat actively damages sperm production. Even a single degree’s difference can decrease how much sperm is produced. Men produce millions of new sperm daily, but sperm have to mature once they’ve been created. The maturation process takes nearly three full months to complete. Before sperm mature, they aren’t able to swim forward or fertilize eggs—without proper development, sperm will be useless. Sperm are a direct representation of the bodily environment they’ve matured in: when things get too hot, production slows and maturation is disrupted. Ways to keep the testicles cool include wearing boxers instead of briefs, avoiding hot tubs and extremely hot showers, and by not actually using a laptop on the lap.

Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, tobacco, and other drugs can all be damaging to fertility for men and women. Men in particular will want to avoid these stimulants because they have all been shown to reduce quality, structure, and movement of the sperm. Alcohol can also reduce testosterone levels, which can lower a man’s libido. For optimal fertility, men should avoid all tobacco, drugs, and alcohol for three months before trying to conceive, and should strictly limit sugar and caffeine intake.

A man’s weight can strongly influence his overall health and wellbeing, and fertility is not excluded. Obesity can often reduce sperm count and quality and can cause imbalances in testosterone levels. For ideal fertility, a man’s BMI (body mass index) should range between 19 and 30. Determining healthy body weight from BMI alone, however, is problematic as it doesn’t take into account people who have higher bone density or who are more muscular. The best way to determine whether or not you are at a healthy weight for conception is to see a doctor and have a total physical done.

Sperm Production
For optimal sperm production and quality, a man needs to have regular ejaculations. Ejaculations that happen too often or too infrequently, however, can have an impact on the quality of the sperm. For optimal sperm health, men should never ejaculate more than once per day, and should ejaculate at least four times per month. While trying to conceive, it’s best for sperm quality that timed intercourse happen every 48 hours to allow the sperm to become more concentrated in the semen.

We can’t exactly control the genetics we’ve been given, but thanks to a science known as epigenetics, we do have some say as to how our genes get expressed. Genetic expression can be strongly influenced by the environment of our body. This includes what we are exposed to in the world around us, the food we eat, what we drink, and other health factors. The best way to positively influence our gene expression is to live a healthy lifestyle, eat whole foods, avoid stimulants, and get plenty of exercise and rest. Total body wellness is essential for fertility. If a man is dealing with any chronic conditions or diseases, it is also imperative that they be properly controlled prior to trying to conceive.

The infamous stress that women are warned about can also impact a man’s fertility. The good news is that the same anti-stress techniques that doctors recommend for women can also be put to good use in men. The exception is that men don’t have to worry about actually being pregnant, so they don’t have to worry about intensity of exercise (the male body responds well to lifting weights and more intense forms of exercise, although no exercise program should be started without the approval of a qualified physician). Men should participate in anti-stress practices with their partners while trying to conceive. Acupuncture, meditation, exercise, and yoga can all be highly beneficial relaxation techniques for men or couples who want to improve their fertility.

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About This Blogger

Aimee McNew

Aimee McNew, MNT is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women's health, fertility, and autoimmune disorders. She has been in private practice since 2010 and runs a website and blog devoted to women's health and wellness. Aimee specialized in women's health and fertility after discovering she had multiple autoimmune and genetic disorders, some of which have contributed to her multiple pregnancy losses. In her free time, she likes creating recipes, cuddling her Boston Terrier, and going on sushi dates with her husband.