Fertility Fiends: Four Habits that Lower Your Sperm Count


Trying for a baby can be both wonderful and difficult emotionally, especially when you feel as though there’s nothing you can do to help the process along. According to family wellness expert Elaine J. Hom, ‘Trying to get pregnant is one of the most joyous and complicated times that a couple can spend together in their relationship. Much emphasis is placed on the woman’s cycle, diet, exercise and overall health. But what about the man?’ Yes, lads, there are things that you can do to help get your sperm fighting fit. Unfortunately, this may mean cutting down on the habits you love, but you’re more likely to have a kid at the end of it, and it will all be worth it. Plus, a lot of these bad habits are bad for your wellbeing too, so cutting down certainly won’t hurt, right?


1. Quit Smoking: ‘If you’re a smoker, kick those cigarettes to the curb,’ Hom instructs. ‘Smoking lowers a man’s sperm count, and studies show that second-hand smoke can affect a woman’s fertility. Every cigarette smoked lowers the chance of her getting pregnant. The woman should also quit smoking, as smoking while pregnant can cause birth complications. And don’t pick up the pack again after she gets pregnant — second-hand smoke is dangerous for your children in utero and after birth. This goes for all tobacco — chewing tobacco has also been linked to poor sperm function.’


2. Drink Less: Hom asserts, ‘Alcohol intake should also be reduced. Alcohol can cause a lowered sperm count, and a connection has been made between fathers who drink and low birth weight. While you may not need to give it up entirely, you should try to reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one to two drinks per day. It goes without saying that you should also avoid recreational drugs. If you are on prescription medication, talk to your doctor about how it may affect your fertility.’


3. Check Your Work Environment: ‘Chemicals in the workplace can pose a serious hazard to your sperm,’ Hom warns. ‘Auto shops and dry cleaners often stock organic solvents, for example, which can alter sperm composition and count. Pesticides and other chemicals have been linked to birth defects and premature delivery. These chemicals can affect male reproductive health in a number of ways, including sperm count (a low count means lesser chance of pregnancy), sperm shape (can cause trouble swimming or unable to fertilize the egg), sperm transfer, (may kill the sperm or the chemicals may attach to the sperm and affect egg production), and sexual performance. It takes three months for sperm to develop and mature, so limit your exposure to these chemicals at least three months before attempting to conceive. If you are concerned about chemicals in the workplace, ask your employer for a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which should detail any and all chemical exposure at your place of employment. The Centre for Disease Control also offers information on avoiding workplace hazards like chemicals or radiation, which may affect reproductive health.’


4. Watch Out for Less Obvious Environmental Factors: ‘In addition to the workplace, there are a number of other environmental factors that can affect fertility,’ Hom explains. ‘Underwear, for example, should be comfortable and allow enough air to cool your testicles. Tight briefs don’t allow air to circulate, so consider switching to boxers. Hot tubs and saunas can also cause the same problem, as the testicles need to stay cool and heat kills sperm. Using a laptop? Same principle applies — the heat from the laptop can cause sperm production issues. Use a laptop cooling pad, or use the laptop on a desk instead of resting it on the lap.’

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