Some common sense paired with prevention can go a long way in having a healthy child. For couples actively seeking pregnancy, it can take months to achieve. If the woman is older, it can take even longer.
But fertility, or a lack thereof, does not rest only with the woman. There are things men can do to increase both the chances of conception and your odds of having a healthy baby.
How It All Works
The male's sperm must navigate through the female's cervical mucus (now receptive at ovulation to the sperm), travel the length of the uterus, and enter the fallopian tubes. Once in the fallopian tube, sperm must meet an egg, penetrate the egg's protective coating and inner membrane, and fertilize the egg.
To increase the chances of successful conception, men should stop anything that interferes with normal body functions, because it could have an effect on reproduction.
Recreational drugs, like marijuana and anabolic steroids can reduce sperm counts. While men don't need to abstain from alcohol completely, heavy drinking can reduce overall sperm count. Moderate drinking is considered 2 drinks or less per day.
Smoking not only affects sperm production, but can also affect the quality of the sperm. Quitting now also creates a healthier environment for the child in your future.
Male obesity can affect sperm concentration.
Basically, if it's bad for a man’s health, it's most likely bad for your baby-to-be.
There are a few fertility factors of which men might not know. For example, males should avoid saunas and hot tubs, especially those with low sperm counts.
Some medications, like chemotherapeutic agents, can also affect reproductive ability. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to determine if any medications you're taking may have unwanted side effects. Some men who know they are about to undergo chemotherapy elect to have their sperm frozen before the treatment regimen begins.
Too Much of a Good Thing
When it comes to exercise and fertility, more is not always better.
Men who play sports that put their genitals at risk—such as soccer, rugby, or football—should make sure you wear proper protective gear. If you do get injured, seek medical attention immediately, as genital injuries can be very serious.
Other sports, such as bicycling, may also curtail a man’s sperm production if done for an extended period of time.
It's important to exercise, just do so in moderation, because exercising excessively can reduce overall sperm count.
The Biological Clock
It's true that the woman's age affects both a couple's ability to conceive and the health of the baby. However, the man's age is still a factor. One study in Denmark concluded that paternal age may be associated with an increased risk of birth defects.
Overall, men should look to improve their health when a couple decides to have a baby. Healthy habits will pay off for a man, and his family, for years to come.