Often, fertility is seen as a "woman's issue," but in fact, for almost a third of couples struggling with infertility, male fertility problems are the reason. If you have reason to think male fertility is an issue – or if you just want to be in the best possible shape to conceive – check out these tips to improve your sperm count (how many sperm you have), your sperm motility (how fast they can move), and your sperm quality (avoiding damaged or defective sperm).
1. Eat Right.
A healthy diet means more - and more active - sperm, so think twice about that second slide of pizza. Focus on a diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh vegetables, and low in saturated fat and salt. In particular, seek out foods rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which increase sperm movement and prevent defects in sperm. Folic acid and zinc have both been linked to increasing sperm health and quality, so make sure you're getting what you need.
2. Pop a Pill.
A vitamin pill. A balanced diet is best, but a daily multivitamin formulated for men's health can be a great supplement to make sure you're getting what you need to be your most fit and fertile. Make sure to seek out those with enough folic acid, in particular.
3. Skip Happy Hour.
Even moderate alcohol consumption can lower sperm counts, reduce testosterone levels, and increase the likelihood of defective sperm, so now's the time to cut back on beer and cocktails. And if you use marijuana or other recreational drugs, you should definitely talk to your healthcare provider about quitting as soon as possible.
4. Hit the Gym
Exercise increases testosterone levels and combats obesity, which is linked to fertility problems in both women and men. Research has found that being overweight can affect your sperm counts and quality, as well as leading to slower-moving sperm. However, steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs can lead to fertility problems, so discontinue use and let your healthcare provider know if you've used these in the past.
5. Keep Cool and Comfortable.
Overheating your testicles can lead to temporary decreases in sperm counts and sperm quality, so limit your time in jacuzzis and saunas. Some research suggests tight, restrictive underwear can also have temporary negative effects on your fertility because it raises your body temperature. Avoid anything that constricts your testicles or puts pressure on them – some studies suggest biking may be linked to lower fertility in men because of the pressure the bike seat puts on your scrotum. While none of these effects are major, it's probably better safe than sorry.