June is Men’s Health Month, but making changes to improve your health can be something you can do at any point during the year.
Preconception health often focuses on what women can do before getting pregnant. However, preconception health is important for men, too. The health of a man’s sperm can be affected by his overall health and lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) some things that can reduce the health or number of a man’s sperm include:
- Having Type 1 diabetes
- Heavy alcohol use
- Being severely overweight
- Harmful substances, including certain bug sprays and metals such as lead
- Health issues such as mumps, kidney disease or hormone problems
- Medicines (prescription, over-the-counter and herbal supplements)
- Radiation treatment and chemotherapy for cancer
- Some drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and anabolic steroids
- Smoking cigarettes
Here are some tips men can take to prepare for conception.
- Get to and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is directly linked with increased male infertility, according to the CDC. In addition, being either overweight or underweight increases a person’s risk for serious health issues. Short-term dietary changes often don’t produce lasting results. That’s why it’s important men eat healthy food and get regular physical activity. This includes eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, which might help improve sperm health. Try cooking a healthy meal or going on daily walks together to make it more fun! The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s choosemyplate.gov website includes recipes that can make planning healthy meals easier. And, if only one of you needs to make changes, be sure to be supportive of your partner’s goals.
- Learn your partner’s health history. A family health history is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in your families have had. It’s important to start researching your family history before getting pregnant. Some chronic health conditions can lead to birth defects. Speak with your health care provider about the health conditions that run in your partner’s family as well as your own.
- Reduce exposure to toxic substances. Exposure to toxic substances and other harmful materials at work or at home can impact men’s reproductive systems. This includes chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces (poop). They can make it more difficult for a couple to get pregnant. Here’s what the CDC recommends for men.
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol or taking street drugs. All of these can make it harder for a couple to get pregnant. In fact, men who smoke cigarettes are more likely to have low sperm counts. Heavy drinking can also lead to trouble with sperm quality. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. For healthy men, that means up to two drinks a day .
- Do a mental health check. Mental health is how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad or stressed sometimes. However, if these feelings don’t go away, they can interfere with daily life. Stress can lower men’s sexual function and negatively affect sperm production. If you or your partner is struggling with mental health issues, talk with your provider about your feelings.