Hey, dad! Nice to see you here. A little bird told us that you are trying to conceive, so let's cut to the chase now, shall we? Although mom will be the one carrying baby for nine months, she no longer is the only one carrying the burden of healthful living. That's right, it takes two to tango... er, make a baby, and there's now growing evidence that dad's health matters just as much as mom's.
Research has shown that dad's habits can deter sperm's health. If dad's sperm is in bad shape, it will have a harder time traveling all the way up to the ovary and penetrating the egg, therefore making it more difficult to conceive. So how can you ensure that your little soldiers are up to the task? Here are 6 lifestyle changes you can make to keep yourself (and your boys) in tip-toe shape.
- Schedule a physical and doctor's visit. It's important to speak to your doctor about your decision to have a baby with your partner. Your doctor will help assess your current lifestyle and make necessary changes before you start trying. The habits to keep an eye on are diet, work, sleep and exercising. Your doctor is also likely to review the medications (if any) that you are taking to make sure they do not interfere with your ability to conceive.
- Focus on a long-term exercise routine. Dad's mental health and physical health are both important components to a successful conception and a healthy pregnancy. That's why you need to take a look at your current day-to-day and make sure that you keep your stress in check and remain at a healthy weight -- and exercising can do both at once: it can help you sleep better, lower your stress and create overall healthy patterns. If you are too busy for a full-on workout routine, exercising 15 minutes twice a week can do wonders. Another way to be more active is to switch up public transportation for a brisk walk to work -- it will wake you up and get the blood flowing.
- Review your diet. What dads-to-be eat can affect the quality of their sperm, and therefore fertility. When in doubt, it's important to reach out to a dietitian to create a nutritious and wholesome eating plan. Foods high in zinc such as meat, seafood, and eggs could increase your fertility. Foods high in Vitamin E (an important antioxidant) such as sunflower seeds or almonds have been associated with a stronger semen quality.
- Curb your alcohol intake (and nix the drugs). Alcohol and drugs can alter the body's zinc levels, and they both can reduce sperm production and cause sperm abnormalities. So if you are hoping to soon become a dad, remember to limit your alcohol intake and stay hydrated between refills. Do you need a little more convincing? Many men don't perform as well when inebriated, which in and of itself can also affect your ability to conceive. As for drugs, it's best to inquire about all of them -- from prescription meds to herbal supplements.
- Take a breather from technology. Experts believe that the reproductive health of the average male is in decline, and the electromagnetic radiation that wireless communication emits is partly to blame. What's more, laptops can wreck havoc on semen simply by being hot. So try to limit your exposure to wi-fi and smartphone devices, and leave all technology out of the bedroom -- it may even help you sleep better.
- Stay away from toxins. Exposure to certain agents such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, lead, nickel, mercury, chromium and benzene can do a number on men's members and possibly be detrimental to their fertility. So familiarize yourself with your environment, know what you buy and consume, and make sure to wash any fruits and vegetables you eat. If you work around potentially harmful chemicals, limit exposure by wearing a face mask and protective clothing. Don't forget to use proper ventilation.
Dad, you're as important as mothers -- before, during and after pregnancy! We care about your health and wish nothing but the best for you.
Photography by Red Anchor Photo for Well Rounded NY.