As the Met Office predicts a high chance of a hot Summer, Bourn Hall fertility expert Mr Oliver Wiseman advises men to take extra care to ‘keep their cool’ if they are wanting to be new dads by next year’s Father’s Day.
Sperm production can be adversely affected by stress, testicles getting too warm and carrying excess body fat.
“An increase in scrotal temperature can temporarily knock the sperm count, so avoid saunas, hot tubs and sunbathing in tight swimming trunks if you want to start a family,” advises Mr Wiseman, who is one of the few urologists in the country to specialise in male fertility.
Improve sperm health
“The good news is that sperm are produced continuously, so in three months it is possible for an otherwise healthy man to boost his fertility and improve sperm health by maintaining a healthy body weight and improving diet.
“Normal levels of testosterone are needed to help produce sperm. But in men that are obese testosterone can be converted into fatty tissue, so a high BMI can significantly affect the sperm count.
“Foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and certain minerals such as zinc can increase sperm count and motility (movement). So, a Mediterranean diet with oily fish, nuts, seeds, citrus fruits and dark green, leafy vegetables is good.”
Mr Wiseman also advises that couples that haven’t become pregnant after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse should have a semen analysis.
Semen analysis vital
“If you consider that in 50% of cases there is a male factor contributing to the fertility problems, early assessment of the male side is important. That can be done quickly with a semen analysis. If one semen analysis is abnormal it should be followed by a second analysis three months after the first one.
“A man’s sperm count can be very variable over time, and that’s why we are very reluctant to recommend treatment based on a single semen analysis.”
Restore sperm production
A physical check is also important. A common problem in up to 40% of men with fertility problems is a varicocele, a big dilated bag of veins around the testicle, usually on the left-hand side which can affect sperm production. Mr Wiseman comments it can look like a bag of worms. “We know that repairing a varicocele can over time lead to an improvement in the sperm count.”
“Male infertility is still not talked about enough, and in many cases there is much that can be done through lifestyle changes or simple surgery to boost natural fertility or improve the chances of successful treatment. The first step is getting good advice and then you know what your options are.”
Bourn Hall is hosting a webinar at 7.00 on Tuesday 28 June examining fertility from the male perspective with advice on how to improve the chances of becoming a dad. For more information visit the event page.