It’s a concern more men are facing than ever before. Having babies, and waiting too long to have them. That’s right, men have biological clocks too, and they are ticking. A recent study shows male infertility is on the rise. In fact, it’s men who now make of 40-50% of the infertility cases across the globe. Fertility expert Stephen Bollinger shared his “guy’s guide to boosting his biological clock.”
1. Talk to a doctor about your health and your medications. While there’s no need to talk to a doctor about infertility issues before you’ve even started to try to conceive, you should still meet with them to discuss your general health before you think about introducing a new family member to your life. This will give your doctor a chance to provide any initial feedback on things to be aware in the near future, and will also give them a chance to address any health issues that could affect children you may conceive. Meeting with a doctor will also allow you to review your current medication list, if there is one. This is important, since you may need to ditch any that have a tendency to affect sperm or fertility.
2. Add folic acid to your diet. Folic acid doesn’t just pregnancy. Researchers between lower levels of folic acid in men’s diets and higher rates of abnormal chromosomes in men’s sperm. Since abnormal chromosomes can lead to birth defects or even increase the chances of a miscarriage, it’s worth trying to prevent future problems by going on a multivitamin or eating more foods that are high in folate.
3. Reduce your alcohol intake. Sorry, guys: alcohol doesn’t just affect women who want to conceive! Studies have shown that consuming high amounts of alcohol can reduce your sperm count and even cause sperm abnormalities. The good news is that you don’t need to give up alcohol entirely – limiting yourself to one or two (normal sized!) drinks a day should be enough to keep your sperm healthy enough to conceive.
4. Stop smoking. Smoking is a serious risk factor for both genders when you’re trying to conceive. According to the C.D.C., “a pregnant woman who is exposed to secondhand smoke has 20% higher chance of giving birth to a baby with low birthweight than women who are not exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy.” Add in the fact that smoking damages sperm, and you have a dangerous habit that should be under control before you begin trying for a baby.
5. Take a look at your work environment. Safe work environments aren’t just important for pregnant women – they can also affect a man’s fertility and even whether or not he conceives a healthy child. To avoid this potential risk, find out before conceiving if you’re regularly exposed to pesticides, chemical fertilizers, lead, nickel, mercury, chromium, ethylene glycol ethers, petrochemicals, benzene, or perchloroethylene at work. These and even lead to miscarriages.
6. Keep your boys cool. You’ve probably heard at some point that overheating your testicles is a bad idea if you want to start a family. We’re here to say that’s true – even the heat we’re exposed to in hot tubs, saunas, and long showers can impact sperm quantity. Heating pads, electric blankets, and overly tight clothing can also have a negative impact on the temperatures within your testicles. Because of this, it’s a good idea to minimize your exposure to heat sources if you want to conceive a baby.
7. Ditch your bike. While cycling can be a great form of exercise, it can also cause a lot of friction and may even increase the temperature of your testicles enough to affect your sperm’s health. Because of this, you may want to consider an alternative method of exercise if you’re preparing to start a family.