Expert Dr Mark Underwood offers his top tips to reduce male infertility. He is a Consultant Urological Surgeon at Hope Fertility in Glasgow. Mark specialises in male infertility, surgical sperm retrieval and vasectomy reversals.
1) Not PC – studies have shown that balancing your laptop on your lap with legs firmly closed overheats the testicles. Surf the net at a table to avoid complications with your sperm.
2) Not-so-good vibrations – men who carry their phone in their pocket are at an increased risk of electromagnetic radiation. Think of your fertility and keep it in your backpack or elsewhere.
3) Trunks kill swimmers – if you don’t already think tight swimming trunks and skimpy briefs are a fashion faux pas then keep this in mind – they can also reduce your sperm count. Your testicles need to keep sperm at a healthy temperature but these tight fitting swimwear or underwear can restrict the genitals and cause overheating.
4) Fired up over smoking – we all know smoking’s bad for you but did you know it can cause your sperm to be misshapen and affect their ability to swim? On top of that it can damage your sperm’s DNA. And any would-be cowboys who think chewing tobacco is a good alternative can think again – this can also lower your sperm count.
5) Slippery situation – personal lubricants, lotions and even saliva can interfere with sperm motility. If you’re trying to conceive, think about swapping lube for vegetable, safflower or peanut oil.
6) Gym’ll fix it – if you want to produce strong ‘swimmers’ try and maintain a healthy weight, as too much body fat can disrupt production of reproductive hormones and increase your percentage of abnormal sperm. Don’t be tempted to guzzle lots of supplements and steroids to bulk up though – you might look big up-top but you’ll probably end up with shrunken testicles down below.
7) Not safe in the saddle – sitting on a bicycle or motorbike seat for more than 30 minutes at a time, especially if you also wear tight shorts, may raise the temperature of your scrotum and affect sperm production. You don’t have to give up your beloved hobby but take precautions like choosing a seat that’s not too hard or narrow and make regular pit stops for rest breaks.
8) Clean up your act – no-one’s expecting you to give up having a tipple, but stick to the recommended daily unit intake if you don’t want to harm your fertility. If you want a family down the line and you dabble in drugs it’s time to cut them out – cocaine and opiates can result in erectile dysfunction while marijuana can increase the number of abnormal sperm.
9) Skip a bath – don’t ditch the personal hygiene regime (your other half might not feel quite so amorous if you pong!) but consider showers instead of baths. Spending more than 30 minutes in water that’s 104 F (40 C) can harm your sperm, as can hot tubs and saunas.
10) Working up a heat – in some jobs being in a hot working environment is unavoidable. If you are trying to conceive and you have a sympathetic boss, ask to spend part of your working day doing alternative duties out of the heat. If that’s not an option take sensible precautions like loose fitting underwear and keeping your body in good condition.