Male fertility is affected by many factors. There are genetic factors, such as a predisposition to low testosterone. There are physical factors, such as a blocked vas deferens, which keep sperm from entering the ejaculate. There are also nutritional factors.

Some of the most significant factors in male fertility have to do with lifestyle and environment. If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for a while with no luck, there may be some changes to your lifestyle that will boost your fertility. Here are a few to consider:

Manage your weight

Overweight men tend to have a harder time conceiving than men of a healthy weight. Having too much or too little body fat can cause a drop in testosterone levels, which leads to a drop in the quality of your sperm.

Keep ‘em cool

There’s an old wives’ tale that says men who wear briefs are more likely to struggle with infertility than men who wear boxers, due to the increased heat on the testicles. While increased heat on the testicles can cause problems with fertility, the extra heat generated by briefs isn’t likely to do so. This is more likely to happen to people that work in high-heat industries, such as welders, bakers, metal workers and even those who spend many hours at a time sitting in their jobs.

Learn to live with pests

Pesticides can also cause problems with male fertility. Men who work on farms, in parks, in fruit and vegetable processing and pest control are in particular danger.

Take care with chemicals

Other chemicals can cause male infertility, too. Men who work in the chemical industry and those that work in roadway cleaning or maintenance are especially susceptible.

Just say “no

The use of recreational or performance-enhancing drugs can have a number of negative effects on male fertility, depending on the nature of the drug. Anabolic steroids, for example, are one of the worst offenders. Recreational use of marijuana is believed to cause sterility in men, as well.

Watch out for cancer

Cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause male infertility. If you’re about to undergo cancer treatments and hope to one day have children, consider banking some of your sperm so that it can later be used via artificial insemination.

Keep a healthy diet

Healthy diets rich in some nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, some antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C, β-carotene, selenium, zinc, cryptoxanthin, and lycopene), other vitamins (vitamin D and folate) and low in saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids were inversely associated with low semen quality parameters. Fish, shellfish and seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and skimmed milk were positively associated with several sperm quality parameters.

Stay away from these foods

Diets rich in processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy and total dairy products, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages, and sweets have been detrimentally associated with the quality of semen in some studies. As far as fecundability is concerned, a high intake of alcohol, caffeine and red meat and processed meat by males has a negative influence on the chance of pregnancy or fertilization rates in their partners.

Making some of these changes can improve your chances of conceiving. They won’t help you out, however, if your infertility is caused by something else. If you’ve been trying to conceive for six months to a year, consider talking to your doctor about fertility testing or a referral to a fertility clinic for you and your partner.

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