Male fertility has dropped by up to 60 per cent in the last 40 years, so if you’re trying to start a family, preconception health is essential.
Here fertility expert Dr Attilio D’Alberto reveals eight things you can do to improve your chances…
1. Keep cool down there
A man’s testicles are outside the body to keep them cooler for optimal sperm production. Sperm and its production are damaged by excessive heat. Here are a few ways to make sure your testicles don’t get overheated:
- Reduce hot tubs, saunas and taking hot baths – showers are better.
- Don’t wear tight underwear and make sure it’s made of breathable fabric like cotton.
- Don’t eat too much chilli, as it heats you up internally.
- Don’t sit with your laptop on your lap – this not only generates heat from the laptop itself but also having your legs closed together can lead to higher than normal scrotal temperatures. Instead, put your laptop on a table or a desk. Laptops also emit electromagnetic waves, which we will talk about next…
2. Reduce use of plastics
The use of plastics is a growing problem, not only for the environment but also for male fertility, as they can act like oestrogens.
Make a particular point to cut down the use of products containing BPA or phthalates. It’s been proven that these chemicals are hormone disruptors and can negatively impact sperm quality.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to limit your exposure to plastics:
- Always try to buy foods that are not prepacked in plastic, and use paper bags to pack loose fruit and vegetables.
- Don’t reuse clear plastic water and soft drink bottles.
- Don’t use cling film. Use wax paper or parchment paper to cover your food.
- Store food in glass, ceramic or stainless-steel containers.
- Keep all plastic containers out of the heat and sun; heat can cause the chemicals within them to be released into your food and fluids.
- Don’t cook food or put hot food into polystyrene (this includes disposable foam plates, cups and packing materials).
3. Take care with painkillers
Paracetamol, aspirin and indomethacin reduce the amount of testosterone produced, which then affects the production of sperm and delays time to pregnancy.
4. Stop smoking
You probably already know many good reasons to quit smoking, but if you weren’t already convinced, you now have one more good reason to kick the habit.
Smoking decreases male fertility, while THC in cannabis damages the DNA in the sperm head.
5. Reduce your alcohol intake
Men should be careful not to drink too much alcohol, which can increase the amount of heat in their body, damaging sperm production and DNA.
Drinking more than five to 25 units of alcohol a week has been shown to significantly reduce fertility in men. Too much alcohol reduces testosterone levels, which are important in male fertility.
Excessive alcohol intake also causes increased levels of oestrogens, a loss of libido, an enlarged prostate and fatigue.
6. Optimise your diet
Red meat can damage male fertility. I would recommend no more than one serving of red meat and two servings of white meat a week. Both should be organic and not from frozen.
Research has shown that replacing meat with fish improves sperm count and morphology. White fish improves sperm morphology, while dark fish improves sperm count.
Consuming two servings of fish a week in lieu of two servings of processed red meat a week has been associated with a 60% higher total normal sperm count.
7. Take supplements
Men should eat plenty of foods with antioxidants, as they can protect sperm from free radical damage. Supplements can also improve semen health.
Here are the best supplements to take each day to improve sperm health:
- Coenzyme q10 (600mg)
- Essential fatty acids (omega 3) (14g)
- L-arginine (15g)
- Lycopene (5-10mg)
- Selenium (200mcg)
- Spirulina or chlorella (5g)
- Vitamin C (1g)
- Vitamin E (100-400mg)
- Zinc (66mg for poor sperm count, otherwise 15mg)
For more info, check out attiliodalberto.com