Think of your testicles as a factory where sperm is made. You want the factory to produce a top-notch product, so you must make smart choices to keep your workers happy and healthy.
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Some factors related to fertility are beyond your control. But you’d be surprised how much power you have over the health and vitality of your sperm, says Edmund Sabanegh, MD, Department Chair of Urology at Cleveland Clinic.
“Sperm is a window on your overall health,” Dr. Sabanegh says. “The lifestyle choices you make have a big impact.” He offers the following tips to help you make the right choices.
1. Trash the tobacco
Add this to the laundry list of reasons not to smoke: It messes with your manhood. Tobacco lowers sperm count and makes your sperm less mobile. Evidence shows that it may even corrode the DNA in your sperm and put you at risk for infertility and your partner at risk for miscarriage. Fortunately, the damage is reversible if you quit.
2. Eat better
Avoid junk food that is loaded with sugar and processed foods. Stick to fresh, natural foods instead. Fruits and vegetables are especially good because their antioxidants and vitamins — especially vitamins C and E — have a positive effect on fertility.
3. Work on your body composition
For better sperm health (not to mention overall health), pair your healthy eating with muscle-toning exercises. Your body’s ability to make sperm depends on having the proper mix of hormones, and fat tissue can actually change that mix for the worse.
4. Drink only in moderation
Social drinking does not pose problems for sperm health. But excessive alcohol use and alcohol dependency can cause your body’s hormones to shift, along with plenty of other health problems. As with many things in life, moderation is the key.
5. Put down the pot
There are many reasons not to smoke marijuana — including the law. But on top of that, marijuana can significantly alter the hormone levels in your body for the worse and lower your sperm count. The good news: Like problems caused by other lifestyle choices, the damage is reversible.
6. Don’t abuse testosterone
A growing number of men use testosterone, either illegally as a performance-enhancing drug or under a doctor’s supervision. If you are planning a family, don’t use it. Using testosterone actually shuts down your body’s natural production of the hormone, which then shuts down sperm production. Consider this: Testosterone has actually been tested — effectively — as a male contraceptive.
7. Get out of the hot tub
Sure, it feels great on aching muscles. But exposing your testicles to a high level of heat in a hot tub or sauna can lead to fertility problems. These problems are not permanent — and you can always hit the hot tub after you’ve started a family.