If you are planning a pregnancy or already trying to conceive, there are things that you can do to improve your fertility. There are simple, natural ways that you can improve you and your partner’s chances of conception.
One important factor in fertility for both women and men is exercise. For men, moderate exercise can help to improve your fertility because you can raise your overall health, which has a knock-on effect on reproductive health.
The key is to exercise regularly, but in moderation. You should aim to exercise for 30 minutes three to five times a week. This is the amount of exercise identified as establishing “optimal health” in men. (1) You don’t want to start some extreme training program, or overdo yourself trying to get into perfect shape. You just want to add short but regular bouts of exercise into your daily routine.
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, regular exercise helps improve fertility because :”Regular exercise and a healthy diet enhance fertility by keeping body weight at normal levels and relieving stress and anxiety.” (2) So not only does it improve your overall health (which increases sex drive and ability, as well as improving the health of sperm), it also reduces “stress and anxiety” (both of which are known to decrease fertility).
Not all exercises are the same. Great, so you know that you should exercise. What exercise should you do? It seems that not all exercises are created equal when it comes to improving fertility in men. Weight lifting, for example, is thought to be a good choice for men hoping to enhance their fertility. (3) Any aerobic exercise could also be beneficial, and can be easier to incorporate into your lifestyle than you think. For example, take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
Some exercises should be limited or even avoided completely when you are trying to conceive. Small amounts of running are fine, but marathon running and other training with lots of running should be avoided. Running at this level can actually decrease your fertility and make you less likely to conceive. (2) So if you’re trying for a baby, I’d put off the marathon or triathlon training until after your partner’s pregnant.
Cycling is also potentially detrimental to your fertility. Regular or distance cycling can damage sperm and decrease sperm production (4). So if you want to get in shape and want to have a baby, cycling is probably not the best choice.
Don’t overdo it. No matter what type of exercise you choose, don’t overdo it. Whether you’re jogging or playing basketball, working out at the gym or swimming, too much exercise will have the opposite effect of what you want. Excessive exercise leads to lowered levels of testosterone in men. Lower testosterone levels means a lower sperm count. (5) So a little exercise can improve your chances of becoming a dad, but too much exercise will actually lower your fertility.
Enjoy whatever exercise you choose. If you are happy, you are more likely to become and enjoy being a dad. Choose exercises that you enjoy. Play Frisbee with your friends. If you have older children, challenge them to a game of football or basketball. Go on walks with your partner in the evenings. Your health and well-being will improve, and so will your fertility.
(1) “Fertility Health For Men”, Fertility Factor
(2) “6 Ways To Boost Male Fertility Naturally”, by Dr. Zoltan Rona, Alive
(3) “Male Fertility”, Dr. Li Jiang, Acu+
(4) “Male Infertility”, The Analyst
(5) “Boxers or Briefs: Myths and Facts About Men’s Fertility”, Medicine Net