Couples wishing to conceive should never take conception as a given. So, many things can go wrong, with much of the blame placed on women. But men have a significant role in conception success too. That’s because, in reality, it’s a 50/50 shared achievement from the moment fertilization takes place and the creation of new life.
What is dad’s contribution to fertilization success? It depends heavily on the health of a man’s sperm. For reproduction to occur, both semen and sperm need to be in tip-top shape. So, what’s the difference between semen and sperm? Semen is the whitish fluid the penis releases during ejaculation. Within semen are sperm cells or spermatozoa and the nutrient-rich fluid called seminal fluid. The seminal fluid transports sperm, nourishing them to survive up to five days as they makes their way to the fallopian tubes. Sperm are male reproductive cells that come from the testicles.
Men with healthy sperm are men who live a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, these lifestyle habits are easily achievable and can vastly improve a man’s chance of becoming a dad.
Here are 10 ways men can both achieve and maintain healthy sperm:
1. Have a healthy waist circumference – Maintaining a healthy body weight has many advantages, including improving the health of sperm. Men who keep their waistline in check – no more than 40 inches in circumference – are more likely to have healthy sperm. Obese men have lower total sperm and a low volume of semen. It’s believed that carrying excess abdominal weight interferes with the release of sex hormones affecting the production and development of sperm.
A new clinical study agrees that obese men who lose and maintain weight loss result in sperm quality improvements. However, men who regain weight loss also lost improvements in semen quality.
2. Refrain from using hot tubs – There’s a reason why the testicles are outside of the body – sperm require a specific temperature range to live and function. When the testicles are exposed to high heat (as in a hot tub) for periods of time, this can lead to fertility problems.
3. Don’t smoke or use illicit drugs – Cigarettes and drugs can harm sperm.The damage done to sperm from men using these substances alters genes within sperm passed onto the developing baby. In addition, women who conceive from a man using recreational drugs such as marijuana or cocaine are more likely to have a miscarriage.
4. Exercise regularly – Spending too much sedentary time makes it harder for men to conceive. That’s because these men have lower sperm counts. Physical activity helps promote sperm counts by helping men achieve healthier body weight and boost antioxidants throughout the body. Exercise also protects sperm from damage by free radicals.
5. Curb caffeine – Men who drink more than 300 milligrams of caffeine a day may be reducing their sperm count. Caffeinated beverages include coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, and tea. Cut back by consuming no more than about 2 cups of coffee daily.
6. Drink responsibly – When it comes to alcohol, it’s best to follow moderation which for men is no more than two drinks a day, if any. Drinking more than that, especially binge drinking, can reduce the production of sperm.
7. Be extra cautious around toxins – Heavy metals, lead, and chemical solvents are examples of toxins that can harm and damage sperm. Any man working with these toxins should always wear a face mask and protective clothing and use proper ventilation.
8. Eat more fatty fish – Avoid processed meats – bacon, sausage, salami, luncheon meat, and hot dogs – and replace them with halibut, trout, salmon, and tuna to improve sperm concentration. The omega-3 fatty acids found in these fish are good for sperm production and quality.
9. Eat more whole foods – You are what you eat, and so is a man’s sperm. Therefore, men who consume more whole, fresh foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meat, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds, provide valuable nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin E, both helpful for fertility.
10. Prevent sexually transmitted infections – One cause of infertility in men is sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea, leading to impaired sperm health. Men should limit the number of sexual partners and always use a condom, helping protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.