How A Man’s Lifestyle Can Affect Fertility

It is known that 15 percent of families experience infertility problems of some sort and 5 percent will never have children at all. Infertility affects a family painfully – both the men and women who face problems with infertility experience many different reactions and feelings.

On the subject of men’s infertility we are talking to our doctor, Associate Professor Endocrinologist Birute Zilaitiene.

– In how many cases is infertility caused by male health problems?

– Various sources state that in couples suffering from infertility 40 percent of the time the cause is down to female factors, 40 percent male factors, 10 percent due to immunological incompatibility, and the last 10 percent of causes remain unclear.

In about a half of the cases of infertile families investigated by our clinic, research showed that the couples couldn’t conceive due to the pathology of the man’s sperm.

However it is true that a woman’s fertility can compensate for a man’s mild infertility problems, and so it is possible for couples to have children without medical help.

– How do men react to the problem of infertility?

– The good news is that more and more men are taking much more responsibility and most come for the necessary tests, often well supported by their wives during these difficult family periods. Often the couple raises the natural question – what we ourselves can do to improve a man’s fertility, and increase the possibility of conception.

– What causes a man fertility problems?

– Current research identifies five key determining external factors:

1. Age. A woman’s fertility starts to decline gradually from 32 years of age, with a significant decrease from the age of 35 years, and a man’s sperm quality begins to deteriorate from about the age of 45 years. There is evidence that partners of men over 45 years of age need up to five times longer time to become pregnant, compared with those of men aged 25 and younger.

It is also known that there are higher rates of newborn abnormalities found in the children of older men. Assisted reproductive techniques can not help to solve age-related infertility.

 2. Obesity. Obese men often have impaired fertility due to lower testosterone levels and higher rates of erectile dysfunction, but there is evidence that even at normal levels of testosterone in these men, their sperm quality is often worse than when compared with normal weight men.

 3. Smoking. It has been shown that smokers suffer impaired fertility more often than non-smokers, mainly due to sperm DNA damage.

 4. Alcohol. There is a proved connection between alcohol consumption levels and the probability of conception. What does the research show?

Partners of men consuming more than 20 units of alcohol per week (more than 250ml of 40 percent-proof spirits) need more time to become pregnant than those whose husbands are drinking less alcohol.

When planning a pregnancy it is safest if the couple do not consume alcohol at all. If this is not possible, a maximum of two standard alcohol units consumed per day, and there should be limited impact on the quality of semen (25 ml of spirits or a pint of beer).

 5. Sexual intercourse at the correct time. It is recommended to have a sex the three days before ovulation (including the day of ovulation) during the period.  It is generally recommended to have sex every 2-3 days to ensure better sperm quality. However, according to recent data, there is no evidence that conception was lower having sexual intercourse every day.

Unfortunately, these above factors are often ignored, and argued against by the success of other couples, regardless of their age or addictions. This is the wrong approach, because each couple’s fertility is entirely individual.

It is not possible to overcome genetic anomalies, or severe damage to spermatogenesis due to previous surgeries, oncological treatment. There are circumstances that are not always dependent on the couple, such as their age, but a healthy lifestyle and regular sex are all available means to change couple’s fertility.

 – Can diet have impact on man’s fertility?

– The question about nutrition and its relationship with fertility is frequently asked. So far, there is no final, definite answer, but some studies have shown that foods rich in antioxidants may increase the chances of conception.

Such food can be attributed to beta-carotene-containing products – carrots, spinach, tomatoes, papayas, cherries, melons, peaches, vitamin C-rich kiwi, pineapples, melons, and various berries, broccoli, cabbage, lemons and other citrus fruits.

Vitamin E is also beneficial, and with the food – lettuce, peanuts, almonds, coconuts, grains, flakes and zinc-containing products – asparagus, potatoes, vegetables, eggs, fish. It is most likely that a healthy diet ensures normal functioning of the reproductive system.

– Is it correct that male fertility may be affected by wearing too tight clothes or frequent visits to saunas?

– There are well-known adverse effects of heat on spermatogenesis. It is therefore recommended to avoid tight clothing, and spending long periods in the bath or sauna.

– So having a healthy lifestyle can solve the problem of infertility?

– Lifestyle changes are important, but often, unfortunately, they are not a sufficient tool to solve all male fertility problems.

The desired result can be achieved only after andrological tests and the application of appropriate medical interventions.

Unfortunately time is not a great ally for couples – and a partners age is one of the most important factors determining the likelihood of getting pregnant.

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