5 Activities Men Should Avoid When Helping a Partner Conceive
An estimated one-third of infertility cases are the result of male reproductive issues related to testicular function, sperm count and hormone balance, according to the National Institutes of Health. Experts report that many male fertility problems can be attributed to certain counterproductive activities and correctable lifestyle choices.
Men who want to avoid fertility issues, especially as they’re actively trying to conceive, should take heed of the five tips we’ve compiled.
1. Quit smoking
Cigarettes and other tobacco products are loaded with harmful toxins that contribute to a wide range of health problems, including those related to fertility. In a study published in Postgraduate Medical Journal, researchers found that men who smoked had a lower volume of semen, lower sperm count and a lower percentage of motile sperm compared with nonsmoking men. Additionally, men who smoked at least 20 cigarettes per day experienced a 19 percent reduction in sperm concentration compared with men who didn’t smoke.
If you are a smoker, try to kick the habit as soon as possible. If you need assistance in your efforts to quit, talk with your doctor about effective smoking cessation treatments. There are also plenty of over-the-counter nicotine replacements in the forms of patches, gum and nasal sprays.
2. Avoid drugs and excessive alcohol use
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly can lead to testosterone imbalances that affect fertility. In a study published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, researchers found that men who suffered from alcohol dependence had lower levels of testosterone, seminal fluid and sperm concentration compared with men who were not heavy drinkers.
Additionally, the use of certain medications and illicit drugs may also affect male fertility, especially marijuana and anabolic steroids. Antidepressants, antibiotics and calcium channel blockers are some of the many medications that may cause male fertility problems, according to a study in the Journal of Reproduction and Infertility. If you are using medications that may be contributing to infertility, talk to your doctor about other available treatment options.
3. Ditch the tight pants and undergarments
Tight clothing brings the testicles closer to the body and increases their temperature, which has been shown to affect sperm count and production. Wearing tight clothing every once in a while probably won’t have a significant impact on fertility, but wearing tight underwear, pants and shorts regularly may contribute to fertility problems over time.
You should also avoid other behaviors that can increase the temperature of your testicles, such as regularly keeping a hot laptop on your lap, using saunas or soaking in a bath or hot tub.
4. Cut back on biking and horseback riding
Activities such as prolonged biking and horseback riding can put excess pressure on the perineum, which is the area between the anus and the scrotum. Such pressure can affect sperm production and decrease blood flow to the testicles.
In a study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health, researchers found that men who cycled for at least 1.5 hours per week had 34 percent lower sperm concentration than men who did not ride a bicycle. Sitting for long periods on bicycle seats and saddles can also overheat the testicles, as can the tight clothing that is typically worn during these activities.
5. Don’t ignore varicoceles
Enlarged veins in the testicles, also known as varicoceles, are similar to varicose veins that develop in the legs. Varicoceles may cause testicles to shrink and are a common cause of reduced sperm quality and sperm production. In addition to contributing to impaired fertility, varicoceles can cause pain and discomfort that gradually worsen throughout the day or when a man stands for long periods.
If you have varicoceles and suspect they may be affecting your fertility, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the affected vein.
If you are experiencing difficulty conceiving, consult a doctor, who can perform an evaluation and determine the root cause of your fertility issues. Many causes of infertility can be effectively treated and addressed, so you can increase your chances of conceiving with your partner.