Week 1 of pregnancy is a good time for dads to do a bit of pregnancy preparation homework and ensure that their bodies and the sperm they produce are in optimal health and ready to conceive a beautiful, healthy baby.
How eating and exercising affects male fertility
What dad eats influences the health of his sperm, so it’s important to ensure he’s also eating all the right foods, in all the right quantities when you’re preparing to get pregnant.
Eating too much leads to overweight and obesity,which can affect your partner’s fertility by reducing the quality of his sperm. Being overweight or obese is associated with health conditions such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome, which are linked to erectile dysfunction (inability to achieve or maintain an erection) in men. This can indirectly affect your chance of getting pregnant as even if a man’s sperm is in perfect health, if he is unable to engage in sexual intercourse and ejaculation, his sperm will not be able to do their job. So it’s sometimes necessary for men to go on pregnancy diets as well!
In addition to watching how much he eats, dad needs to keep a close eye on what he eats. Evidence suggests that men who want to boost their fertility should:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions daily);
- Eat polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats
- Eat anti-oxidant rich food: particularly fruit and vegetables.
- Discuss with your doctor whether it is worth:
- Taking a selenium supplement as selenium plays an important role in developing the testes, sperm production and sperm health;
- Limiting your consumption of soy foods such as tofu and soy milk as they contain isoflavones (compounds similar to the female hormone oestrogen).
Testing for STIs
Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can affect a man’s fertility in many ways. For example, gonorrhoea may cause damage to the vessels which transport sperm from the testes and HIV impairs sperm production.They can affect mum and your baby’s health too if infected while pregnant. As STIs often do not cause symptoms, it’s important for both mum and dad to test for them before getting pregnant.
Turn down the heat
If you and your partner are getting hot under the sheets, that’s a good thing, but other types of heat may have adverse effects on dad’s sperm. If he’s a baker, driver or ceramic oven operator, the heat he is exposed to in his workplace, may be affecting the health of his sperm.Working with a laptop computer on his lap may have a similar affect- it’s likely to heat up your partner’s testicles and adversely affect his sperm. Hot baths and saunas and tight underwear also increase the temperature of the testes, which can impair sperm production. Get your man out of the bath or sauna and into the shower, and replace tight undies with loose fitting boxer shorts.
Detox to improve fertility
Drugs (both legal and illegal), alcohol and tobacco can all reduce the health of dad’s sperm. Avoiding these substances so that the body can detox will help ensure the sperm he produces are optimally healthy. This will help you get pregnant, and ensure that your pregnancy gets off to the healthiest start possible. To prepare for conception dad should:
- Avoid smoking: which can reduce the quality of his sperm and may increase your baby’s risk of serious conditions like childhood cancer;
- Avoid alcohol: as it affects male hormone production and may reduce the quality of the sperm a man produces;
- Avoid recreational drugs: including marijuana, cocaine and heroin which can affect sperm production, hormone levels and/or libido and erectile function;
- Performance enhancing drugs: which affect a man’s hormone levels; and
- Some medications: including those used to treat hypertension, pain, psychological conditions and hormonal conditions. However, you must discuss your medication with your doctor before stopping or making any changes to your medication.
More information on the 1st week of pregnancy
||For more information about the key points on the first week of pregnancy, see Key points this week.
More information on male fertility
||For more information on optimising the health of you, your sperm, and the likelihood that you and your partner will conceive, see Detox to improve male fertility.