Male fertility is much more complex that it seems at first. It’s more than simply donating a quantity of sperm and hoping that the woman’s body takes it from there. Many factors influence whether your little guys are going to swim right and make it to that egg.
If you’re having trouble making a baby, don’t assume it’s automatically your partner’s fault. Odds are about equal that you’re to blame; in fact, in about 1 in 5 cases, responsibility for infertility rests with both of you.
Before you’ve ever seen the fertility specialist, there are some fast and easy ways you can boost your own fertility and increase your odds of conception:
- Kick the habit. Smoking causes infertility in both men and women. Smoking reduces your sperm count. It also damages your sperm’s DNA, which can lead to birth defects. If you smoke, quit. If you can’t quit, smoke less. There are tons of resources out there that can help you quit, from local, state and federal ‘quit kit’ programs to medications that your doctor can proscribe. Keep quitting until it sticks.
- Trim down. Being overweight or obese can affect your fertility as well as hers. Couples that lose even 10% of their body weight will see an increase in fertility of 25% or more.
- Don’t feel the heat. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about the effect of extreme heat on the testicles, and how it may impact sperm production. The largest volume of research suggests that small increases in temperature – such as those from wearing briefs instead of boxers – won’t affect it at all. That said, long exposure to high heat can indeed affect your sperm quality. Don’t spend all day in the hot tub, and turn down the temp when you take a bath, too. Briefs are still fine, if you prefer them.
- Let it all out. Some couples get the idea that a man should keep from ejaculating prior to trying to conceive. That, too, is a myth. After about a week of waiting around, your swimmers are going to lose some of their motility (that is, the ability to keep swimming in the right direction and find the egg.
- Count it off. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while now, your partner is probably tracking her monthly ovulation cycle. She might use an ovulation kit, and probably has a big red circle around that special day when she’s the most fertile. Show some interest, and help build anticipation for the big event.
- Do it every day. Now, we’re not talking 28 days out of 28 here. However, according to research, having intercourse daily in the four or five days leading up to ovulation will greatly increase your odds of conceiving.
- Don’t be a grease monkey. If you’re doing it every day, things might get a little staid and she might get a bit dried out. Many over-the-counter lubes, however, contain spermicides. Even water-based lubricants that don’t have spermicide in them can cause some trouble by interfering with sperm motility. Believe it or not, canola oil or peanut oil are some of the best lubes you can use when trying to conceive.
It’s time to do your part. Follow these tips and you’ll give your swimmers the best chance of hitting the goal.
Vickie Barnes owns and operates BabyHopes.com, a website devoted to people trying to get pregnant.