April 21-29 is National Fertility Week, an initiative created by RESOLVE, the National Fertility Association. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about infertility, encourage advocacy and education on the issue, and to help those dealing with infertility find solutions and cope with the condition.
Part of this effort includes spreading reliable scientific information and countering cultural myths. And one of the biggest myths is that infertility is mainly a female issue, which is simply not true. Studies show that male infertility is the main issue in about 30% of cases in which a couple is unable to conceive. In addition, about two million men are diagnosed with infertility each year. Despite this, men are much less likely to be evaluated for fertility issues than women. Encouraging men to recognize this and take proactive measures is just one of the goals of National Fertility Week.
5 Ways to Boost Male Fertility
Another goal of the campaign is to educate men about how their lifestyle choices can affect their ability to start a family or serve as a sperm donor. So to that end, here are some ways to improve male fertility.
Maintain a balanced, healthy diet. This includes eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day and getting enough foods rich in folate, zinc, Vitamin D, and calcium. Good sources for these vitamins include beans, citrus fruits, leafy greens, whole grains, shellfish, meat, nuts, lentils, and dark chocolate.
Wear boxers instead of briefs. A 2018 article in the journal Human Reproduction showed that men who regularly wore loose-fitting underwear had 25% higher sperm concentration, 17% higher total sperm count, and 33% higher total motile count compared with men who wore tight-fitting underwear.
Watch your alcohol and marijuana use. Daily alcohol use can lead to reduced testosterone levels and other fertility problems, so be sure to moderate your drinking. This goes for marijuana as well; it’s not only hard drugs that can negatively affect fertility.
Break a sweat. Exercising for 30 minutes at least three times a week contributes to good fertility health by increasing testosterone levels and helping relieve stress. However, there is an exception to this rule: long-distance bicycling. Some tests show that spending hours on a bike seat can damage sperm production, so if you’re an avid cyclist, check with your doctor about ways to mitigate long-term problems.
Keep your testicles cool. The testes must remain cooler than the rest of your body to function properly. Multiple studies reveal that repeated and consistent heat exposure can cause a significant drop in sperm count, which is the primary reason to choose boxers over briefs. It’s also recommended you limit your time in hot tubs, and avoid placing a laptop computer in your lap for extended periods.