Trying for a baby can be a stressful time for both the mom and dad-to-be. And when things don’t seem to be going right, the experience can get more traumatic. In the US, one in eight couples have difficulty conceiving, and in about one third of those cases, male fertility is the problem. In some instances, there are medical reasons why men are infertile. About 15% of men, for example, produce no sperm at all. In these cases, the options for a couple are limited to either using a sperm donor or choosing to adopt. Other men are affected by a low sperm count or low sperm motility, which are mostly caused by lifestyle decisions. Luckily, changing your lifestyle can salvage the situation.
Currently, male fertility problems are on the increase, with experts blaming everything from environmental toxins, to tight underwear. A French study of male fertility between 1989 and 2005 found that average sperm counts fell by a third, and similar research around the world has found conclusively concurred with the French study.
As aforementioned, some of these problems are caused by our lifestyles and habits. So, check out the list below of habits that cause men to lose their fertility, and start changing your lifestyle to help improve your chances of conceiving.
15. Consuming Soy-Based Products
Scientists have suggested that diets that are high in soy-based products, such as tofu, can reduce a man’s sperm count. Vegetarians are likely to be more affected than most, as tofu is often used as a meat alternative in food products and meals. According to a 2008 study, men who eat tofu more than twice a day have, on average, produce 41 million less sperm per millilitre of semen, than men who have never tasted the pleasures of soy-based substitutes. If you are a vegetarian and looking to conceive, it might be time to look for a substitute for your meat-substitute, lest your “healthy” diet affect your sperm count too drastically.
14. Eating Damaging Diet That Causes Obesity
Obesity can have a damaging effect on a man’s fertility by drastically reducing the quality of his little swimmers. It can also reduce the chances of a couple conceiving in other more unexpected ways. Men who are very overweight tend to have a lower sex drive, and are also more likely to suffer from impotence. After all, without an erection, conception is pretty difficult to achieve! Luckily, these problems are often only temporary, and once you have lost some weight, through regular exercise and a more sensible diet, you should see your libido and your sperm quality soon return to normal.
13. Being A Mary Jane Addict
If you have ever tried smoking marijuana (even if you didn’t inhale…) then you will know that it makes you feel happy. Unfortunately for couples who are trying to get pregnant, it also has the same effect on the man’s sperm, making them hyperactive while still in the testicles, where they should be resting up for the big event. So, by the time they are called to action, the poor little guys are all worn out. Interestingly, sperm are even affected if it is the woman who has been smoking marijuana, as the sperm become active as soon as they enter her body, meaning that they are all tuckered out by the time they get close to the egg.
12. Eating A Diet Full Of Sugar
A diet that is high in sugar can affect your fertility in two different ways. In addition to contributing to obesity, which can reduce your chances of a successful conception by causing impotence and reducing sperm quality, high levels of glucose in the blood stream can affect your body’s hormonal balance by over-stimulating the adrenal glands. When this happens, the body’s delicate endocrine system has trouble coping, and the glands whose job is to produce reproductive hormones, stop working properly. If a man’s testosterone levels are too low, then that will reduce his sperm count and make conception much more difficult.
11. Being Stressed
Studies have shown that stress can reduce male fertility, making sperm less able to fertilize eggs. Although it isn’t fully understood why, researchers have speculated that it may be connected with the production of natural steroid hormones, which in turn damages the body’s ability to produce the right levels of reproductive hormones. Ironically, the longer most couples go without conceiving, the more stressful the whole process can become. In some cases, the stress of trying to become pregnant might actually be making the whole process more difficult, if not impossible. The advice “Relax, and it will happen” might be frustrating for a couple trying for a baby, but it also very true.
10. Using Steroids
Steroid use is on the increase, and not just among men who consider themselves bodybuilders, but also among ordinary young men who want to live up to the standards set by celebrities and the media. Unsurprisingly, the use of anabolic steroids has a very damaging effect on male fertility. It makes the body’s natural hormone system less effective, reducing the production of testosterone. Not only does this reduce sperm quality and sperm motility, making conception difficult, but it can also reduce the user’s libido – as well as making them more aggressive, and much less of a catch when it comes to women who are looking for a father for their children.
9. Not Checking Out Product Labels For Marked Chemicals
A recent study has found that many of the most common items in your own home could actually be making you infertile. Chemicals found in soaps, sunscreen, toothpaste and objects made out of plastic, including ironically children’s toys, can damage male fertility. One of the most dangerous is a chemical called triclosan, an antibacterial agent which is still used widely in soaps and deodorants. Check the products in your home and throw out any which list triclosan as an ingredient, and make sure you start buying more chemical-free products in future. They may cost a few dollars more but it’ll be worth it when you conceive.
8. Drinking Too Much Caffeine
A US study found that men who drink more than two cups of coffee every day cut their chances of becoming a father to just one in five. Their research suggested that caffeine, which is found in other foods than just coffee, of course, affected the quality of the men’s sperm, reducing their ability to fertilize. According to the scientists, men who drank over 265mg of caffeine a day, whether in coffee or energy drinks, radically reduced their chances of conceiving. If you’re trying for a baby, it might be time to ditch the espressos (100mg of caffeine) or the Red Bull (80mg of caffeine per can) – or switch to decaf options.
7. Keeping Cellphones In Your Pocket
Ever since the invention of cell phones, there have been scare stories in the media about the damage they can cause our health. However, the unpleasant truth is that these devices, which many of us now can’t imagine living without, do emit radio-frequency electromagnetic waves, which can damage your sperm. Unfortunately, most men keep their cell phones in their pockets or clipped to their belts – right next to their testicles. Hardly surprising that it is their sperm which pay the price for our smartphone addiction! No-one would expect hopeful fathers-to-be to ditch their cell phone, but maybe switch it off between calls or keep it in a different pocket, as far away from your boys as possible.
6. Living A Sedentary Lifestyle
Bad news for those men who work in offices, chained to their desks, eyes glued to their computers all day. Apparently, a sedentary lifestyle can be very bad for your fertility. Staying seated all day can inadvertently heat up your testicles, which has a damaging effect on both your sperm count and sperm motility. Of course, this is one habit that is relatively easy to resolve. All you have to do is make sure you take regular breaks from your desk, to ensure you give your testicles a chance to cool down, thereby ensuring healthy sperm, and a much better chance of conceiving.
Smoking is bad for your health in so many ways, it is almost difficult to count. Cigarettes can also have a damaging effect on male fertility, reducing your sperm count and also affecting sperm motility and even sperm morphology – which is the scientific term for how the little swimmers are shaped. Second-hand smoke can also impair the fertility of your partner, and once she gets pregnant your cigarette smoke will be very harmful to the baby, both before and after birth. So, if you are planning on trying for a baby, the first thing you should be doing is stubbing out your cigarettes.
4. Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol doesn’t just impair your judgement or your ability to walk in a straight line. It also impairs your ability to conceive. Long-term heavy drinking reduces the amount of testosterone in the body, which affects the quality and motility of your sperm, leading to infertility. Too much booze also causes other problems when it comes to trying for a baby, as it can reduce a man’s libido, making him less interested in sex, and can even cause impotence. Luckily, these effects are only short-term and can be reversed if you cut down your alcohol consumption, or even stop drinking altogether.
3. Soaking For Long In Hot Tubs
Heat is very bad news for your swimmers, which means that men who are trying to conceive should avoid the pleasures of a long soak in a hot bath or a session in the hot tub at the gym. A study of 11 men who had experienced fertility problems found that the sperm count in five of them increased by an incredible 491% after they stopped taking hot baths and cut out soaking in the hot tub. So, all you need to do to boost your chances of conceiving is ditch the hot baths and switch to shorter showers instead.
2. Using Your Laptop On Your Thighs
Baths might be an obvious source of heat to avoid, but there are other things which can boil your boys unexpectedly. As you’ve probably noticed, laptops generate a lot of heat, particularly if you’ve had it running for a while, and if you are one of those who sit your laptop on your, well, lap, then the heat is going to go straight to your testicles – and is going to drastically reduce your chances of conceiving. You can use your laptop on a desk or a lap-tray to create a barrier, and to hopefully reverse what damage has already been done.
1. Wearing Tight Trousers And Underwear
It has always been a bit of an old wives’ tale that tight underwear and tight trousers can cause problems with male fertility, but in this case the old wives have it absolutely spot on. Tight clothing is more likely to heat up your testicles, and heat is bad for your sperm, leading to a reduced sperm count and reduced motility. There is even some evidence to suggest that excessive heat in the testicular area can lead to DNA changes in your sperm, which can affect fertility or even the pregnancy itself. Stick to large and loose boxer shorts, and you’ll reverse the effects within a few months.
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