How To Improve Your Chances Of Becoming A Dad—An Andrologist Guide to Male Fertility

Some couples get pregnant quickly, but for others it can take longer. Male infertility affects as many as 50 percent of couples trying to conceive. Here are tips from a fertility expert on ways to boost your chances of conception.

By D Tejaswi
04 Sep 2021

Infertility affects 8-12 percent of couples around the world, with a male component being the primary or contributing reason in about half of those cases, finds Lancet, 2021. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) finds that while a normal Indian adult male's sperm count used to be 60 million/ml three decades ago, it is currently about 20 million/ml.

There’s more than one reason that affects male fertility. The critical reason is sperm abnormality that include low sperm count (oligozoospermia), absence of sperm in seminal plasma (Azoospermia), immature or abnormally shaped sperm or sperm that’s unable to swim.

“There isn’t one right way to treat male infertility, but certain measures have been more successful over the years. By following certain health tips, you can improve your chances of becoming a dad,” says Dr Atanu Jana, Consultant Urologist and Andrologist, Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, Kolkata. Here’s are some ways to boost male fertility:


1. Plan intercourse

You can improve your chances of conception by planning sex. It may appear that having more sex equals better chance of getting pregnant, but having sex too frequently can actually reduce the number of healthy sperm finds a study Influence of ejaculation frequency on seminal parameters. “If your sperm counts are borderline normal or on the lower side, the general recommendation is to have sex every other day during the fertile window,” suggests Dr Jana. For males with high sperm count, it is advisable to have intercourse, twice or thrice a week, and focus on the period when your partner ovulates. “Having sex near the time of ovulation results in highest rates of pregnancy,” adds Dr Jana.


2. Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep deprivation and late bedtime impairs sperm health, says a study published in Medical Science Monitor. The study further says that the sperm counts and their survival rates are lower in the men who sleep for shorter durations as compared to those who sleep for about 7-8 hours. “Poor sleep has an immediate negative effect on hormones and their functioning. So, focus on sleep quality and quantity to improve your reproductive health,” suggests Dr Jana.


3. Cut down on stress

The journal Nature Reviews Urology confirms that psychological stress is associated with reduced paternity and abnormal semen parameters. “Stressed men are more likely to have lower sperm concentrations, and the sperm they produce are more likely to have imparied motility,” says Dr Jana. Also, stress promotes the release of steroid hormones such glucocorticoids, which lowers testosterone levels and impacts sperm production.

There are several ways to reduce stress such as meditating, yoga, or spending time outdoors.


4. Stub the bud

There's a direct impact of smoke on sperm and semen quality. There is a greater chance of DNA damage, decreased motility and low sperm concentration, finds The World Journal of Men’s Health. If you want to quit smoking, make a few lifestyle modifications such as taking the support of friends and family, making non-smoking friends, identifying the time when you crave cigarettes and trying cognitive behavioural therapies.


5. Dress comfortably

Sperm count could be affected by tight garments and underwear that keep testicles closer to body heat, finds Journal of Clinical Medicine. “Tight clothing including underwear significantly affects male fertility by increasing testicle temperature by upto 1C,” explains Dr Jana. You may want to choose loose fitting underwear and avoid things that overheat the testicles such as prolonged sauna and steam baths.


6. Watch what you eat

Studies find that weight management, balanced diet and exercise keeps sperm in a good condition. The Journal of Clinical Medicine says that for healthy sperm production, you need to:

  • Consume vitamins and antioxidants offered by vegetables and fruits
  • Include legumes, whole grains, juices and nuts in your diet
  • Stay away from unhealthy hypercaloric foods, and excessive intake of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.

“When you eat low nutritional density foods, it is directly associated with increased oxidative stress, which is an underlying cause for deterioration in male fertility,” explains Dr Jana.


7. Cut down on alcohol and drugs

The paper Fertility Research and Practice says that long term and heavy alcohol use reduces gonadotropin release—something that negatively affects testosterone levels and male fertility. “A decrease in the quality of semen parameters has also been consistently documented in heavy consumers of alcohol,” finds the paper. “Also, the use of recreational drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and anabolic steroids should be strictly avoided if you are trying for a baby. These can cause defective sperm function including sperm DNA damage,” adds Dr Jana.


8. Try zinc, folate and selenium supplements

A study titled Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters found that oral antioxidant supplements help improve semen parameters such as motility, sperm concentration, morphology, DNA damage, and fertility rate. Intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, folic acid, selenium reduces sperm DNA damage and has positive effects on sperm motility. “Eat green leafy vegetables, seeds such as sunflower, nuts such as almonds, peanuts to boost fertility,” says Dr Jana.


9. See a specialist:

If you have been trying for a year but with no luck, consider seeing a fertility specialist. He/She may ask you a few questions, assess if treatment is needed and follow-up by a series of tests and examinations.


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