Many couples are surprised to discover that a male fertility issue is the reason that they aren’t getting pregnant as quickly as they had anticipated. In fact, one third of couples that have a fertility problem have some type of male factor infertility.
It’s at this point when men often ask if there is anything they can do to improve their fertility or semen quality. Diet? Exercise? Pills? It’s important to know that there isn’t a “quick fix”. The production of sperm cells takes approximately 3 months from start to finish; therefore, any changes or efforts you undertake should be continued for at least that long.
Q & A: Our Most Common Male Fertility Questions
Can I change my diet?
There are no foods or diets that can reliably improve or impair a man’s fertility. Common sense would suggest that a well balanced diet is desirable. Caffeine should be consumed in moderation, meaning 1-2 servings per day. One serving is not a Starbucks venti latte.
Should I exercise?
YES! Exercise may improve male fertility and is encouraged. Studies show that men who engage in moderate to vigorous activity have higher levels of sperm concentration.
Are there vitamins I can take?
Some studies suggest that Vitamins A, C and E can protect sperm cells from certain types of damage. These vitamins or a single multivitamin may be beneficial. However, there is no evidence that they add any benefit over a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.
Can I smoke?
Evidence is fairly clear that tobacco in any form (including chew) has a detrimental effect on male and female infertility. Men who smoke tend to have a lower sperm count, less sperm motility and/or poor sperm morphology. Tobacco (and marijuana) use should be eliminated or reduced as much as possible.
What about alcohol?
Alcohol in moderation is not likely to impair male fertility. Moderation means no more than 1-2 drinks per day.
Boxers or briefs?
There is little evidence that the type of underwear worn has any significant effect on sperm quality. If you’re concerned that briefs are keeping your scrotum too warm and snug, switch to boxers.
Can I soak in the hot tub?
Immersion of the scrotum into hot water should be avoided, since this can affect sperm motility and production. A hot shower is perfectly acceptable.
Will any medications help?
Prescription medicines may be helpful in certain cases, and Dr. Gould will discuss this with you if he feels you are a candidate. There are hundreds of over the counter supplements that claim they can improve semen quality, but few have been subjected to controlled scientific study. These products tend to be costly. Talk to me first before trying any OTC medications.
Do you suspect male infertility as you are trying to conceive?
You and your partner can be assured that you will get to the best medical attention available. At Northern California Fertility Medical Center, we are fortunate to have our own urologist on staff, Dr. John Gould, who will diagnose the issue and get you on your way to starting the family that you’ve always dreamed of. Please feel free to contact us!