How to improve men's fertility
If you are trying to become a dad, there are some easy lifestyle changes that can not only improve your physical health but also help you overcome stressors that may contribute to infertility. When needed, there are other steps your doctor may suggest as well.
Lifestyle changes to promote men’s fertility
One of the first steps doctors recommend is improving your diet. Eat more dark vegetables, fruits and high-protein foods and increase your intake of polyunsaturated fats from sources such as tree nuts. Other recommendations include:
- Losing excess weight because obesity causes decreased testosterone. In addition, bigger thighs can increase the temperature of your scrotum (where the testicle is held) and decrease sperm production.
- Exercising for 30 minutes or more each day because improved metabolism means better sperm production.
- Getting six or more hours of sleep each night to help reduce stress and recharge the pituitary gland, which is responsible for sperm production.
- Taking a prenatal vitamin designed for men to improve sperm health.
- Limiting alcohol consumption to two drinks a day; binge drinking can impair sperm production for months.
Male infertility and sperm
If you have been trying to conceive for six months without a successful pregnancy, it may be time to have a comprehensive evaluation. In many cases, men have a condition that is contributing to infertility.
When it comes to male fertility, sperm is a crucial factor. Optimizing sperm counts will help initiate a pregnancy. A “normal” amount of ejaculate (semen) is .5 to 1 teaspoon. Within each .5 teaspoon, there usually is 20 million or more sperm.
What to expect from a men’s fertility evaluation
During a fertility evaluation, your doctor will try to get a picture of your sex life, your reproductive health and your general health by asking:
- Are you active?
- Do you get enough sleep?
- Do you have a balanced, nutritious diet?
- What is your level of stress, both professionally and domestically?
- How often are you having sex?
Your doctor may ask about the quality of your erection and whether you ever experience erectile dysfunction. The doctor will likely examine your testicles as well; 80 percent of a man’s testicles are dedicated to sperm production.
Often, the evaluation includes a semen analysis to look at:
- How much semen is produced
- How many sperm are being produced
- How well and how fast the sperm are swimming
- The shape and size of the sperm
Techniques to increase sperm counts and fertility
Sometimes, further intervention is needed to optimize the chance of pregnancy. Treatment may include taking medications that change or improve the hormones responsible for sperm production or to improve the quality of erections. In some cases, a procedure is necessary, including:
- Fixing abnormal veins within the scrotum to improve sperm potential
- Removing sperm directly from the testicle for examination under a microscope (biopsy) or for use in assisted-reproductive techniques
- Correcting blockages that don’t allow enough sperm to be ejaculated
- Vasectomy reversal
If you have been unsuccessful in achieving a successful pregnancy for six months or more, The Men’s Clinic at UCLA can help. Services include consultations, on-site sperm testing, fertility treatments and vasectomy reversal. Call 310-794-7700 to learn more or schedule an appointment.