Fertility is often discussed and put into context as a woman's issue, but it's actually as much about the guys as it is about the gals. Let these stats sink in for a second :
- 40% of cases where couples have struggled to conceive have been solely due to male fertility factors
- 40% of cases are due to female fertility factors
- 20% are a combination of both, or unexplained
So, optimising your chances of falling pregnant is a team effort.
Unlike women — who can't reclaim their eggs once they're gone — men produce new sperm every day, but they shouldn't take this for granted. On the contrary, it's crucial for men to keep their fertility in check and maintain a healthy lifestyle to support sperm count and quality.
So, grab your boyfriend or husband and show him our 11 lifestyle tips on how to improve sperm health.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Being over or underweight can negatively impact sperm motility, quality, and count .
A good way to discover whether you're at a healthy or unhealthy weight is to check your BMI, which is the number calculated by considering your weight-to-height ratio. Though you can do the maths yourself, using a BMI calculator is way easier. All you need to do is input your weight and height, and the tool will provide you with your BMI score.
But what does that score mean?
When we're talking about male fertility, the optimal BMI is between 18.5 to 24.9.
When a man has too much or not enough body fat (or, in other words, if their BMI is too high or too low), it affects the sperm's morphology — its DNA and how it looks — which can increase the risk of miscarriage.
When a man gets his body into shape, his sperm benefits too. Moderate levels of cardio and strength training have been shown to increase sperm quality — but before he goes hard out; remember everything in moderation because too much heat down there can affect male fertility .
Sounds graphic, but excessive exercise is no good for anyone, especially when we're talking about sperm movement, count and quality.
And when we say excessive, we're talking heavy endurance training like biking for 5 or more hours per week.
Another thing we should mention is that steroids can increase the risk of permanent male infertility, especially in cases of prolonged use of high doses. This is because steroids block the production of testosterone in the testicles, which is where sperm production needs to happen.
If he quits the juice, it can take up to a year for sperm production to return to normal.
3. Eat a healthy diet
It's pretty obvious that a healthy diet (which avoids processed foods) is going to be far better for your fertility than a diet full of delicious, greasy junk food.
Studies have proven that his semen quality is going to be far superior when he embraces a diet full of fruits, veggies, fish and low-fat dairy products .
Plus, there are certain foods he can eat more of to get supercharged swimmers — particularly, foods that are high in antioxidants and can reduce the oxidative damage that sperm is susceptible to .
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Found in organ meats (chopped liver), muscle meats, fatty fish, some fruits, veggies and legumes
- Selenium: Found in Brazil nuts, oysters, fish, mushrooms, beans, turkey and chicken
- Folate: Found in leafy greens, beans, beef liver and peas
- Zinc: Found in oysters, crab, red meat, poultry and beans
- Vitamin C: Found in red peppers, kiwi, oranges and grapefruit
A daily supplement, like Kin's Male Prenatal, can also be helpful in this respect. Our formula assists male fertility by supporting sperm health and motility, while reducing free radicals and damage. The Male Prenatal contains:
- Zinc and selenium to promote sperm health
- Vitamin C, zinc and coenzyme Q10 to help reduce free radicals and damage
- Selenium and coenzyme Q10 support sperm motility and energy
- Zinc and selenium support testosterone health
- Ashwagandha helps the body adapt to stress
As for what foods to avoid, some studies have linked soy foods to low sperm counts. However, this link doesn't appear strong enough to have a significant impact on fertility rates. As always, moderation is key.
4. Minimise stress
Turns out that when a man is stressed, his sperm suffers too, and research has shown that stress can reduce testosterone hormones, which play a vital role in the production of healthy sperm.
His fertility is also heavily impacted when he's experiencing severe depression, which can often take a further toll on his sex drive, and ability to get it up and to ejaculate.
It’s a lot to handle. And, we know men are notoriously bad at seeing a doctor and asking for help.
But, if you know a guy who needs some help, Pilot has developed a simple, convenient and discreet way to access help — all he needs to do is undertake an online consult and, if approved by Pilot's practitioners, they will come up with a treatment plan, personalised to him.
If he's not ready to see a doctor just yet, Pilot has also written a bunch of helpful health guides about erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and sexual dysfunction in general.
5. Quit smoking
We've been warned about the deadly impacts of smoking and its links with cancer. But has he considered whether his daily durry could be negatively impacting his fertility?
Spoiler alert: It is .
Cigarettes are made with harmful chemicals, the same chemicals that can impact the sperm's quality, ability to swim and how it looks.
Damaged sperm can:
- Make it harder to get pregnant
- Increase the chance of miscarriage
- Cause long-term health problems for your future child
On top of this, second-hand smoke can impact the quantity and quality of a woman's eggs — which is something that can't be reversed.
But if he ditches the cigarettes, he can still get his sperm production and quality back on track, which can take between 3-6 months after quitting .
6. Minimise alcohol consumption
Those weekend benders might need a break by the time you’re thinking about having kids, as drinking excessively has been shown to :
- Lower testosterone levels
- Decrease sperm production
- Affect sperm quality
- Cause erectile dysfunction
- Decrease chances of conceiving
But how much is too much? The Australian guidelines suggest no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day.
7. Minimise coffee consumption
This one is going to be much easier said than done, but here's the harsh truth: having more than 2 cups of coffee per day for men decreases their fertility .
So, he's going to have to find another way to get through the arvo slump... maybe the change in diet will help with energy levels.
8. Get better sleep
We all wish we could still nap like a toddler. Use fertility as your excuse.
Sleep deprivation and dysfunction aren't doing his sperm any favours, and less sleep has been found to lead to a low sperm count .
Getting 7 or more hours per day will not only make you feel like a million bucks, but it’ll get those production lines cranking on his sperm.
9. Get tested
Guys with sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis can inherit some battle scars on their reproductive organs — not great for fertility.
Left untreated, STIs can block the ducts that transport sperm and if this happens, no sperm can be ejaculated.
And the thing is, these STIs can be sneaky. They don’t always show symptoms. So, if he hasn't been tested in a while, now would be a good time to uncover any potential lingering infections and get them treated.
If he's previously had an STI, he may also want to consider getting a semen analysis to ensure his fertility hasn't been affected.
10. Be mindful of radiation
Most of us are in deep, committed relationships with our phones, but here’s a potential problem with that relationship...
We've all wondered whether the radiation from our mobile phones does have any impact on our bodies. And the truth is, there's continually more scientific research emerging that tells us it can.
In fact, the radiation waves have been shown to decrease sperm count and lead to poor sperm health and movement . This is especially true if it’s kept in the pocket.
And that goes for his laptop, Apple Watch, Xbox and tablet too.
11. Avoid overheating
There's actually a biological reason as to why his testicles like to hang low. They don't like to overheat and it's not an ideal situation for storing his sperm.
So, man has been created with testicles housed in the scrotum to ensure the sperm are kept cooler.
It's like putting on a push-up bra for your balls (weird analogy). Our boobs might be able to handle it for some time but how good is taking our bra off at the end of the day? His testicles are the same. They don't like to be pushed up and squished for long amounts of time.
Plus his body warmth starts heating his testicles and that can have a negative impact on his sperm count.
In fact, studies have shown that men who wore boxer shorts had a 17% higher sperm count than men who didn't wear boxer shorts .
As we said, this is a team effort.
Men have a crucial part to play in the fertility game and there's a lot he can do to encourage his body to produce the highest quality sperm. So why not tackle a new healthy lifestyle for the benefit of both of you?
You don't have to be ready to make a baby to make these changes either. Sometimes it's just nice to have a little extra motivation to make some lifestyle changes.
And remember, if you're struggling to get pregnant, it can be a great idea to see a fertility specialist. They'll help you both identify any fertility problems and understand how you can overcome them.