Your health while trying for a baby

When trying for a baby, it is easy to feel like everything is out of your control. But it’s important to know that there are a number of proactive measures both men and women can take to maximise their chances of conceiving naturally. These measures will also increase your chances of success while receiving fertility treatment.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is good for your overall health and wellbeing, as well as the short and long-term health of your baby. Below are a number of tips men can adopt to ensure they maximise their chances of conceiving.

What lifestyle changes can I make?
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat well
  • Exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Avoid overheating sperm
Your Weight

Being either underweight or overweight can have an impact on your fertility for both men and women. A healthy weight can increase your chances of conceiving naturally and improve the chances of fertility treatment success. A healthy weight is also needed for the normal production of hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) in both males and females.

If you are trying to conceive, we recommend that you calculate your body mass index (BMI). To calculate your BMI click here.

While trying to conceive, both you and your partner should have a BMI of between 20 and 24.9. A BMI of above 25 is considered overweight and above 29 is considered obese. If you have a BMI of more than 29, weight loss of 5% to 10% can significantly increase your success of conceiving. The best thing you can do to achieve a healthy weight is to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Eating Well

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential to keep sperm production at an ideal level and increase chances of conceiving.

Here are some tips for healthy eating:

  • Reduce caffeine intake to less than two cups of coffee/tea per day. Remember that many fizzy drinks contain high levels of caffeine.
  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Use low-fat options to products (e.g. low-fat milk, low-fat butter).
  • Choose whole-grain alternatives to carbohydrates such as bread, rice and pasta.
  • Increase your intake of oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna) as it contains the essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6, and also Vitamin D (many Irish people are lacking in Vitamin D).
  • Reduce intake of fizzy drinks, take-aways, fast foods and confectionary (cakes, biscuits and sweets).
Exercise

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to ensure a healthy body and mind when trying to conceive, especially if you have a high BMI and are trying to achieve a healthy weight. Thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least five times a week is recommended for adults. This can include activities such as brisk walking, cycling, tennis and swimming.

Many people find that trying for a baby can be a stressful time in their lives. One of the best relievers of stress is regular exercise, as it causes your body to release endorphins (‘happy hormones’).

It is important that men avoid overheating their sperm as much as possible. Therefore, it is recommended that men avoid prolonged wearing of tight trousers/shorts and excessive cycling, which may compress and potentially overheat the testes.

Smoking

Smoking has been proven to affect the fertility of both men and women. In fact, it is directly responsible for up to 13% of all infertility. If you or your partner smokes, you are strongly advised to quit.

Research shows that the rate of infertility is higher and the time it takes to become pregnant is longer in smokers than in non-smokers. There is evidence to suggest that smoking affects sperm quality. It is linked to damage to the DNA of sperm and has also been associated with poor sperm movement. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than non-smokers.

Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do to ensure your chances of conceiving. The National Smokers Quitline is available on 1850 201 2013. Other useful websites which we highly recommend are www.quit.ie and www.cancer.ie

Alcohol

It is worth considering your alcohol intake while trying to conceive. Heavy alcohol intake in men has been linked to decreased testosterone production and quality of sperm. It is not known how much alcohol you need to drink before it will affect your fertility. Therefore we recommend significantly decreasing your alcohol intake or to totally avoid drinking alcohol while trying to conceive.

Avoid Overheating Sperm

There are a number of small everyday things men can do to help their sperm count and prevent sperm from overheating. Avoid hot tubs, jacuzzis, and saunas, which can temporarily decrease sperm production. Holding a laptop on the lap can also affect sperm, as can tightly fitting briefs and bicycle shorts. Brief exposures to heat are ok, but be sure to get up and move around frequently.

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