Exercise is an important measure for good general health and a lack of physical activity has significant adverse health effects. It also has adverse effects on male fertility. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with poor sperm quality, and also contributes to being overweight and obese which affect male fertility. So when you’re trying to get your partner pregnant, it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough physical activity too.
When deciding what type of exercise you might do to keep fit and healthy, cycling is one exercise you may want to try and avoid. It can cause trauma to the testicles and increase the temperature of the testicles, both of which aren’t good for sperm production.
Erectile dysfunction and conception
Being overweight, obese and the associated health conditions such as type 2 diabetes mellitus impair male fertility are also associated with erectile dysfunction in men. Some recreational drugs and medications also cause erectile dysfunction. This common condition can indirectly affect your chance of getting pregnant. Even if a your sperm is in perfect health, if you are unable to achieve or maintain an erection to enable sexual intercourse and ejaculation, your sperm will not be able to do their job. Erectile dysfunction is however treatable. Talk to your doctor about medications and lifestyle changes which may improve your erections and in doing so increase your chances of getting your partner pregnant.
Sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy
Checking and treating STIs is not only an important measure for a healthy pregnancy, but will also increase your chance of getting pregnant. Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) affect a man’s fertility in different ways. For example, they may cause damage to the vessels which transport sperm from the testes, impair the production of sperm in the testes, and/or affect the quality of sperm (e.g. their ability to swim).
STIs can also affect the health of your partner and baby during pregnancy. Many men and women with STIs have no obvious symptoms, so they do not know they are infected but can still pass the infection on to their sexual partner. Women may also infect their baby during childbirth, even if they have no symptoms. If there is any risk of STIs, both you and your partner should visit your doctor for STI checks before you conceive. Most STIs are easily treated with antibiotics.
Men don’t have a ‘biological clock’ like women; they remain fertile and continue to produce sperm even in old age, unlike women who become infertile when they stop producing mature eggs at menopause. Nevertheless, age still matters when it comes to male fertility. Older men are more likely to have erectile dysfunction and low libido which contribute indirectly to subfertility. The quality of a man’s semen deteriorates as he ages and men older than 40 years may have reduced fertility because their sperm becomes less motile. The quality of sperm DNA may also be reduced in men over 40, and that may increase their partner’s risk of pregnancy complications and their baby’s risk of genetic abnormalities.
Turn down the (testicle) 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 your sperm. If you’re a baker, driver or ceramic oven operator, the heat you are exposed to in your workplace, may be affecting the health of your sperm. Speak with your occupational health and safety officer about protective clothing or work conditions which may help.
Working with a laptop computer on your lap may have a similar effect- it’s likely to heat up your testicles and adversely affect the production of sperm. Take the laptop off your lap and put it on a desk, it’s better for your posture too!
Hot baths and saunas, tight underwear and cycling for long periods also increase the temperature of your testes, which can impair sperm production. Get out of the bath or sauna and into the shower, and replace tight undies with loose fitting boxer shorts.
More information on pregnancy planning for dads
|For more information on preparing yourself for conception, see Pregnancy planning for dads.
|For more information on the types and amount of food you should eat to make yourself ready for pregnancy, see Eating to optimise male fertility and sperm health.
|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.
|Use these 14 tips to boost your fertility and ensure your pregnancy gets off to the healthiest start possible.14 tips to boost your fertility.