Your Lifestyle May Be Affecting Your Reproductive Health – Here’s How To Improve Your Chances

Male infertility is on the rise and a host of lifestyle factors – like having an Ibuprofen habit – are being blamed. Here are our hacks to looking after your swimmers, whether you’re looking to have kids today or someday

A sobering study published in 2017 showed that sperm counts in richer countries, such as the US and the UK, have reduced by 60% over the last 40 years. And that’s according to 185 different studies between 1973 and 2011. In the US one in seven couples have trouble conceiving and according to the Human Reproduction Update the yearly decline in sperm count in the West is 1.6%. So, it’s time to arrest the slide and do more for your reproductive health with these hacks:

1. Save The Ibuprofen For Actual Emergencies
Painkillers have been linked to male infertility before and now a new study has shown that long-term use of Ibuprofen can block testosterone production in the testicles. Doctors in Copenhagen ran a six-week clinical experiment with 31 men aged 18-35 and found that they developed this disorder after two weeks of taking 600mg of ibuprofen twice a day. The effect was temporary but the researchers said longer term use may lead to permanently low levels of testosterone. If you use Ibuprofen to reduce muscle soreness after exercise then try this natural hack.

‘There is no association between cycling time and erectile dysfunction or infertility’

2. Don’t Stop Cycling…
For a long time doctors were recommending that male cyclists trying for a family should hang up their lycra and stop squashing their ‘crown jewels’, but a recent University College London study of 5000 cyclists found no relationship between time spent cycling and fertility. ‘This is good news for male cyclists – there is no association between cycling time and erectile dysfunction and infertility,’ says Dr Mark Hamer, study author. Apparently cycling technology should be thanked for this. ‘In the modern era of cycling saddles are much better so there is nothing like the pressure that there once was,’ says Hamer.

3. …Because Exercise Boosts Sperm Count
Even if you’re not a cyclist you should still be getting regular exercise because it’s not just your muscles you’ll be keeping in shape. A 2106 study in Reproduction showed that doing at least one hour of exercise three times a week may boost your sperm count. But don’t think that you can bank 24 hours of training in one month and slack off for the next two. After one month the boost begins to fade – it’s a temporary effect. The researchers said that part of the benefit may come from shifting body fat, because all their test groups achieved this.

4. Give Yourself Room To Breathe
If you’re a tight trunks kind of guy then you might want to consider hanging loose. A study by Dr Allan Pacey at University of Sheffield found that while alcohol and smoking appeared to have little effect on sperm count, tight underwear did reduce it. ‘There is no need for men to become monks just because they want to be a dad. Although if they are a fan of tight Y-fronts, then switching underpants to something a bit looser for a few months might be a good idea!’ he says.

‘The typical Western diet high in sat fat could be changing sperms’ outer membranes’

5. Try A Mediterranean Diet
Science has found hints that a Mediterranean diet, high in fruit, vegetables and containing Olive oil could improve sperm count and quality. There is speculation that the typical Western diet, high in saturated fats, could be changing the fatty acid composition of sperms’ outer membranes. It’s this membrane that’s vital for the sperm’s ‘target acquisition’ of recognising the egg and burrowing into it.

6. Don’t Be A Hot Tub Hero
Most if us are aware that superheating our undercarriage isn’t a great idea and the evidence backs this up. In a three-year study published by the Brazilian Society of Urology, it was shown that repeatedly dunking your nuts in hot water, whether in baths, hot tubs or Jacuzzis reduces your fertility. Other studies have shown that external heat from other sources, such as in a sauna, aren’t good for it either.

7. Cut Lean-Back Surfing Time
Fertility studies into using wireless connected gadgets on your lap, or walking around with a smartphone in your front pocket, have not turned up any firm evidence either way. This is partly because no one is that interested in paying to do more studies. So, it’s up to you to decide, but cutting lean-back surfing time is probably a good idea anyway. After all, it frees up time to build a healthy body, and get out there and procreate!

WHAT NEXT? For more information on male fertility or for dealing with childlessness visit the Fertility Network or Resolve.

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.

Follow the writer @mattfitnessray