Male sperm has been personified in pop culture throughout the years from sperm Halloween costumes (complete with a swimming cap) to talking sperm swimming a race in the opening scene of the 1990’s era-defining Rom-Com “Look Who’s Talking”. Yet, for couples and gay men struggling with infertility, the topic of sperm and semen is anything by comical. According to the CDC, approximately 35% of infertility is due to male factors. As a doctor who routinely meets with gay men planning on parenting, I often surprise patients when I tell them that it is possible for one – or both of them- to have a sperm problem. If you or your partner are experiencing male factor infertility, you are most likely quite familiar with terms such as sperm count, quality, and motility – three of roughly a dozen factors contributing to male infertility.
The LGBT community faces unique challenges when it comes to fatherhood. Because having children must involve more parties, it also takes more extensive family planning. Since getting pregnant is hard enough and June is Men’s Infertility Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to learn what you or your partner can do to help increase your fertility. Not only can these tips possibly help boost your fertility, but also they are smart changes for a healthier lifestyle.
Be a Quitter
You know the dangers of smoking tobacco, but did you know your cigarette habit could also contribute to male infertility? Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than those who don’t smoke. Frequent exposure to secondhand smoke can also reduce male fertility. It’s not easy, but ditching tobacco for good is a smart and healthy decision for you, your partner and your future children.
Less is More Better
Men who are overweight or obese may experience male factor infertility because of a direct impact on sperm themselves from increased body heat and also because of increased levels of the hormone estrogen caused by additional fat cells.
Eating nutritional, healthy and wholesome foods along with getting at least thirty minutes of physical activity every day is a great way to start losing weight. Even if you don’t have weight to lose, being physically active every day is good for your overall well-being. Take a walk with your partner at the beginning of the day when the weather is cooler; it’s a great way to connect with each other during fertility treatment.
Play it Safe & Stay Cool
Steer clear of illicit drugs such as anabolic steroids and marijuana, both of which can affect sperm.
Additionally, avoid situations that may lead to prolonged high temperatures for the testicles. Be aware of heat exposure from a laptop on your lap, wearing underwear that is too tight, or cycling.
Yes, this sounds much easier said, than done. But, reducing stress in yours and your partner’s life can aid in your fertility. Prioritize self-care rituals such as physical activity, getting enough sleep and finding time for activities that you enjoy. The goal is to find ways to relax that are not centered around family building. Check out a new museum, walk through the park, go for a run, read a book or put on a movie & veg out. Our fertility experts recommend you and your partner put this time on your calendar and stick to it!
These changes are good for you and your fertility health, but we know they may not be the complete solution for you. That’s where the team at CT Fertility comes in. We are passionate about helping the LGBTQ community overcome male factor infertility and build the family of your dreams. Contact our fertility clinic to discuss how we can help!