Living a healthy lifestyle is important to your fertility. Lifestyle factors can affect a man's fertility, and many of these factors are things that a man can control. Leading a healthy lifestyle improves not only your chances of conceiving but also your overall health. Here are some lifestyle factors that can have an impact on male fertility:
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco decreases sperm size and movement and can damage the genetic makeup of sperm cells. It may also have a negative effect on seminal fluid (the fluid that is ejaculated along with sperm). Talk to your health care provider about ways to quit smoking.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol can decrease sperm production. Moderate alcohol use doesn't appear to affect fertility.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese may be associated with male infertility. Maintain a healthy weight by incorporating physical activity and a healthy diet into your life.
- Age: Unfortunately, this is a factor for which you can't do anything. There is a gradual decline in fertility for men older than 35 years.
- Stress: The amount of sperm you produce may decrease if you experience excessive or prolonged periods of emotional stress. Going through infertility can be discouraging and last a long time, which can add to the stress a couple may be feeling. Consider talking to your doctor to find out ways to manage your stress.
- Nutrition: A diet low in vitamin C, folate, selenium, and zinc may contribute to infertility. Make sure you eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet that follows Canada's Food Guide. Each day, ensure you get 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, 8 servings of grain products, 2 servings of milk and alternatives, and 3 servings of meat and alternatives.
- Recreational/illegal drug use: Marijuana and cocaine use decrease the number and quality of sperm, while anabolic steroids (used to build muscle strength and growth) shrink testicles and stop the hormone production that's needed to make sperm.
These lifestyle factors may affect your fertility, but there may be other causes for infertility as well. If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for one year or more (or 6 months if the woman is over 35) with no luck, you should both consider talking to your doctor and having your fertility assessed. Going to a doctor will help you determine the cause of any fertility problems you may have and give you a chance to talk to the doctor about what you can do to increase your chances of conceiving.
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