June is Men’s Health Awareness Month and the week before Father’s Day is National Men’s Health Week. The goal of these campaigns is to remind men to take steps to be healthier. Men’s health and fertility may be linked in several ways. Overall health can have an impact on fertility for both men and women, so getting healthier is a key step to take when trying to conceive.
Lifestyle Habits Affect Men’s Health and Fertility
There are some factors that are linked to male infertility that you can’t control, such as age and certain illnesses. However, certain lifestyle choices and habits can contribute in a big way to men’s health and fertility.
Being overweight or obese can affect male fertility just like it can affect female fertility. Men who are overweight may have higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of testosterone than men at a healthy weight. This can cause low libido and decrease sperm count. Controlling weight with diet and physical activity can help with men’s health and fertility.
It’s no secret that what you eat has an effect on your health. Well, your diet can affect your fertility in some cases. Not only can it contribute to weight issues, but a 2012 study found that diets high in saturated fats may be linked to lower sperm quality and concentration. Eating a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can help you stay at your healthiest and most fertile. You can also ask your doctor about any dietary supplements you may benefit from.
Smoking is a major contributor to many different health problems. Most people are aware that it affects your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. And it turns out that smoking cigarettes can also negatively impact the reproductive system. Women who smoke have fewer fertile years than non-smokers. Men who smoke have lower sperm counts than nonsmokers.
Alcohol & Drug Use
Using illegal recreational drugs or prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you are can be dangerous and affect fertility. For instance, marijuana use may decrease sperm quality and sperm count. Drinking too much alcohol may also contribute to decreased sperm quality.
Health Conditions Linked to Infertility
Certain health conditions may affect the volume, concentration, motility (movement), and morphology (structure) of sperm. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), men who have the following conditions may experience fertility problems:
- Thyroid conditions
- Genetic conditions like Klinefelter Syndrome
- Cystic fibrosis
- Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia
Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications used to treat health conditions may also affect male fertility. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can contribute to infertility.
Male Hormonal Health
Hormonal problems are not just a women’s health issue. In fact, hormonal disorders can affect men’s health and fertility. Men with conditions that affect the pituitary glands or hypothalamus may have low testosterone. Hormonal imbalances like low testosterone do not directly cause male factor infertility. However, low testosterone can contribute to fertility issues. First, it can result in erectile dysfunction and low libido. Secondly, testosterone treatments may cause infertility, though it may be reversible after treatment is stopped.
Sexual Dysfunction and Fertility
Men’s health and fertility may also be linked by sexual dysfunction. Conditions that affect a man’s desire or ability to have sexual intercourse will, in turn, affect their chances of conceiving a child. Sexual dysfunction may be linked to health conditions that can be treated or managed by a healthcare provider. For instance, erectile dysfunction (the inability to achieve or maintain an erection) makes conceiving through intercourse unlikely if not impossible. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), erectile dysfunction may be caused by conditions like:
- High blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- Kidney failure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple sclerosis
The experienced and compassionate team at Carolinas Fertility Institute is here for you every step of the way on your fertility journey. Our physicians can work with you to develop a treatment plan, including exploring treatments and solutions for male infertility. Our patients receive individualized care that is tailored to your needs. To make an appointment, call our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.