Fertility isn’t just a female issue. Infertility affects men as well as women and like women, your partner can do his part when you’re ready to start a family. There are a lot of factors that affect male fertility and certain lifestyle changes can increase or decrease your partner’s chances of producing offspring.

Male fertility starts with diet. Obviously things like cigarettes and drugs affect male fertility negatively, so if you’re trying to start a family, you’ll have better chances if you quit smoking now. One British study found a relationship between smoking and low birth weight, increased chances of stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Also, one thing that may negatively impact fertility in men is herbal remedies. Studies show that St. John’s wort, echinacea purpurea, and ginkgo biloba make eggs less likely to be fertilized by sperm because these herbal remedies actually change the genetic material in sperm and make sperm less viable.

Clothing and Hot Water
Some fertility issues that are unique to men are how men wear their clothing and how hot their bath water is. Tight constricting clothing, especially around the genitals, can affect sperm negatively because it raises the temperatures in these areas. Germ cells in the testicles that produce sperm are most effective in temperatures slightly below normal body temperatures.

When the germs cells are in a hotter environment, even if that’s only 2-4 degrees above normal, both testosterone and sperm are negatively affected. Doctors advise men to wear loose fitting undergarments and pants so that their body temperature doesn’t get too high. Cotton underwear is also recommended because it breathes better than material like nylon and other synthetic fibers. Wearing loose fitting, breathable underwear can also get avoid creating damp, moist areas where bacteria and infections can develop.

Also, men should try to avoid hot water as well, because excessively hot water can overheat sperm cells and could cause significant damage. Hot showers are fine and so are the occasional baths, provided that they aren’t too long. However if you’re trying to have children, your partner should stay away from things like hot tubs, Jacuzzis, and saunas

Lastly, stress can also negatively impair your partner’s fertility and make sperm less viable. This is also true for women and several studies show that excess stress can make a woman less likely to conceive.  That means both you and your partner should take some time to simply relax and learn healthy ways of coping with stress, which is a good idea in general and even more so if you’re trying to have children.

Barbieri, R. L., Domar, A. D., & Loughlin, K. R. (n.d.). Making fertility friendly lifestyle choices. Harvard Health Publication.