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Fertility Boosters for Men
There are several steps men can take to boost their fertility and guard against infertility. While not all of them are backed up by research, they certainly can’t hurt.
Keep the Testes Cool
The temperature of a man’s scrotum (the sac of skin that holds the testicles) averages about 6 degrees Fahrenheit lower than his internal body temperature. The lower temperature is essential for sperm production — when the scrotal temperature rises, sperm production slows.
Many of our modern conveniences can heat things up. Avoid hot baths, hot tubs, waterbeds, saunas, heated car seats, etc. Do not put cell phones in your front pants pocket, even though the effects of electromagnetic radiation on sperm are not well known. And keep laptops on the table rather than on your lap. A 2010 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that when men used laptops on their laps with their knees together, it took only 28 minutes for the scrotum’s temperature to elevate by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sitting too long at your desk or in a car can heat up the scrotum, too. So get up and move around to cool things off.
And avoid radiation. If you are having X-rays, make sure you ask for a lead shield to protect the groin area.
Don't Drink (Too Much), Don't Smoke and No Illegal Drugs
Smoking and drinking are bad for male fertility. “Avoid cigarettes,” says Marc Goldstein, MD, Director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Alcohol — less than four drinks per week. No marijuana or cocaine. Marijuana stays in the testes for two weeks, so even using it once every two weeks will have a negative effect.”
Dr. Goldstein advises limiting caffeine consumption to one or two cups of coffee per day.
Avoid Lubricants that Kill Sperm
Do not use lubricants such as KY Jelly, Astroglide, Surgilube, any other over-the-counter lubricants or even saliva, recommends Dr. Goldstein. However, a small amount of baby oil, whole milk, egg whites or Preseed are OK.
Eat Your Colorful Fruits and Veggies
There is a growing body of research on antioxidants and their value in addressing infertility issues, including erectile dysfunction. So, it’s important to eat your fruits and veggies. “Infertile men have a higher concentration of free radicals in their semen as compared to fertile men,” Dr. Goldstein says. “Free radicals attack and destroy the membrane that surrounds sperm.
“Have good nutritional habits, especially a diet rich in fresh fruits and leafy vegetables — oranges, tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens, any bright-colored fruit or vegetable, as well as fish,” Dr. Goldstein continues. Remember SMASH — salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring — and avoid an excess of animal fat.
Take Your Vitamins
Dr. Goldstein recommends taking vitamins and suggests the following:
- Vitamin C: 500 mg/day
- Selenium: 100 mcgs/day
- Co Q10 200 mg/day
- Vitamin E: 200 IUs/day
- Folic Acid 400 mcg/day
- Multivitamin that contains no more than 20 mg of zinc and no more than 200 IUs of Vitamin E
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound composed of two phenol functional groups. Bisphenol A is commonly used in the production of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastic, such as baby bottles, water bottles, sports equipment, medical equipment, dental fillings, sealants, and equipment, lenses for eyeglasses, electronics devices, and CDs and DVDs.
Phthalates are phthalic acid esters that are typically added to plastic to make it more flexible, transparent, durable and longer lasting. Phthalates are also used to make polyvinyl chloride softer. They are found in everything from pharmaceutical pill coatings to photographic film, building materials, medical equipment, detergents, toys, modeling clay, paints, inks and food products.
Both chemicals are ubiquitous, and both have been shown to affect hormones. Phthalates are known to have a feminizing effect on male rat fetuses, according to Dr. Goldstein. Studies have found that Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used to make resins and strengthen plastics, has been linked to decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, impaired semen quality and a drop in sperm count.
Try to get these chemicals out of your life as much as possible. "Avoid keeping food wrapped in plastic,” Dr. Goldstein says.
Stress raises epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine levels, which constricts blood flow. “Seek emotional and/or psychological support,” Dr. Goldstein says. “Consider meditation to reduce stress. Exercise regularly and moderately.”
See a Doctor if You Have Varicoceles
Varicoceles are masses of enlarged and dilated veins in the testicles, and as many as 15 percent of men have them. A recent study lead by Dr. Goldstein also found that varicoceles interfere with the production of testosterone, which can cause serious health problems in men.
“As a result of our study, I recommend that teenagers and men with serious varicoceles be referred to a male reproductive urologist experienced in microsurgical varicocelectomy,” Dr. Goldstein says. “It is much easier to prevent future fertility problems and low testosterone than wait until the damage has already occurred."