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Male Factor in the IVF Process

An overview of 9 lifestyle choices to adopt for a successful IVF journey....!!

A women’s fertility often becomes the focus point when a couple is attempting to conceive. When in reality, the male fertility holds equal significance and it can be maintained by simple measures pertaining to lifestyle. One in every five males has a low sperm count. Out of all couples experiencing trouble in conceiving, 20% of the cases have male infertility as the major factor. But it has been found through research that healthy sperm motility (ability to move forward and fertilize egg) and semen quality is affected by a number of lifestyle factors. In fact, when you plan to start trying to conceive, it’s advisable to visit your doctor 3 months in advance to identify and target pre-existing health problems and make changes towards a healthy lifestyle as listed below. This would contribute in ensuring a good quality of sperm.

1. Lose the Excess Weight

If your body mass index (BMI) is in excess, then losing weight is the first recommendation. Obesity influences male fertility in a major way and according to research it may also affect hormone levels in turn reducing sperm production and concentration. Also, even though there is slight conflicted evidence but there could be a link between obesity and the sperm morphology and reduced motility. All this may eventually account to lower changes of the egg being fertilized by the sperm.
Some studies also show that molecular health of DNA can be affected by male obesity and result in damage to the DNA of a sperm. Thus, a successful event of fertilization and the normal development of an infant largely depends on the integrity of sperm DNA. Research also has evidence that paternal obesity has a direct impact on the health of prospective children and the chances of increased susceptibility to chronic diseases.
Diet and exercise are the most recommended means to achieving an ideal weight.

2. Stop Smoking

Smoking has multiple negative effects on the nature of sperm. The sperm motility and ejaculated volume can be reduced as result of smoking. Sperm production is influenced by zinc content and smokers may possess lower zinc element in their semen. There are tiny hairs along the epididymis tubes that transport sperm which can be damaged in smokers and this also has a negative impact on sperm function. Smoking may also negatively affect erectile function. Passive smoking also puts your partner in harm’s way. If you quit smoking these adverse effects can be easily reversed. Consult your doctor to help you stop smoking.

3. Minimize or Stop alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol can also impact sperm quality. It reduces the levels of the main hormones that ultimately regulate the reproductive system namely follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone and testosterone. It also raises oestrogen that contribute to decrease in sperm production. According to one research, as little as 5 units of alcohol consumption per week can adversely affect the quality of sperm.

4. Avoid usage of recreational drugs

Large scale studies of drug usage is perceived as unethical, so it’s impossible to say with surety but it is believed that marijuana and cocaine affect male fertility. Anabolic steroids which are sometimes consumed to bulk up one’s body, amphetamines (speed) and similar banned substances also damage the quality of sperms. Your doctor can assist you to put a stop on such habits.

5. Do regular exercise

Exercise will contribute in achieving optimum cardiovascular health and maintaining an ideal weight for healthy fertility. And as per multiple studies, active men also possess higher sperm count compared to their sedentary counterparts. One should aim to exercise at least 30 minutes for five days a week.

6. Manage your stress levels

Stress may reduce hormones required for good reproductive health such as testosterone and LH. More studies are required to establish that it can also affect sperm quality. But experts are of the opinion that mental stress has multiple adverse effects such as affecting libido and potentially even reproductive abilities and possibly sperm quality. It would be useful to learn meditation techniques and simple breathing exercises to regulate onself during stressful moments.

7. Monitor temperature

Sperm quality might be impaired if testicles experience increased temperature. Carrying warm phone inside pockets or keeping warm laptops on groin areas for prolonged periods must be avoided. Also one shouldn’t take too long hot baths or immerse in Jacuzzis and saunas. If your work environment is constantly at a high temperature or if you are obliged to sit for long hours, make sure to get up and outside on a regular basis. Also wear loose fitting undergarments and trousers.

8. Eat healthy diet

Studies have linked low quality sperm to diets high in red meat, caffeine, trans fat, saturated fatty acids and processed meat. A diet rice in vegetables, fruits, wholegrain and fish, such as a Mediterranean style diet which also supports heart health, will promote fertility. Consciously make an effort to include folate, zinc, Vit C and B12 in your diet. Its ideal to obtain these from your diet instead of supplements so aim to consume at least five portions of vegetables and fruits every day. In case of special requirements such as Vegan diet, consult a doctor for food supplements. Omega 3 fatty acids also support sperm production and can be obtained from walnuts or oily fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon.

9. Age and Sperm

Although age isn’t a lifestyle factor that can be altered, it’s a fact that aging does impact male fertility. Women aren’t the only ones to go through Menopause and have their reproduction dictated by the biological clock, males also face andropause. After reaching the age of 40, the sperm production reduces by 11% every year. Some points can be remembered regarding male fertility and aging.
• Sperm quality and quantity declines with age.
• Testosterone levels are also lowered.
• The likelihood of sperm with abnormal chromosome also increases which in turn inhibits conception.
If you are hoping to become a father, we encourage you to take charge of your fertility improvement by following these tips. Time cannot be turned back but small and effective changes can be made to improve habits and help your partner in conception.

10. Talk to doctor

If you suffer from a hereditary disorder or preexisting medical condition such as or thalassemia or sickle cell disease that might affect fertility, its advisable to visit doctor and have a preconception chat. If you ever had a treatment for testicular cancer or underwent a groin surgery, again its recommended to discuss fertility with a doctor. Also, remember to get tested and rule out sexually transmitted disease or similar infections as soon as possible if appropriate.

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