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The Truth about Men’s Infertility

7 simple changes men can make to improve fertility.

The Truth about Men’s Infertility

While historically we have considered infertility a woman’s cross to bear, the truth is that male factor infertility accounts for nearly 40% of all cases, with 50-60% attributed to a combination of male and female factors.

Studies have shown that sperm count, production and quality have been dropping over the last half century around the globe. A notable study from France found that sperm concentration has decreased by a whopping one third in just 16 years, and several other European studies have provided similar data, estimating around 10% of males are currently infertile.

Particularly problematic in developed nations, men are paying the reproductive price as they encounter the daily environmental and lifestyle risks that have become the new global norm. The studies seem to suggest our modern lifestyle could be one of the main culprits for this worldwide decline. Luckily, there are several simple changes you can make to improve and support male fertility.

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1. Know Your Exposure Risk. Men who live in urban areas or large cities may have an elevated fertility risk due to their environmental exposure. Phthalates, chemicals found in hundreds of household products (from toys to soaps to food packaging), are endocrine disruptors that can alter hormone levels, including testosterone, and negatively impact sperm quality. I recommend avoiding plastic containers, especially for heating food, as these can leach chemicals into your meal. Just being aware of these compounds, and reading the labels on personal care and food products can help significantly reduce toxin levels.

2. Avoid Overheating. Sperm require a very specific temperature in order to exist - about 4 degrees lower than a man’s body temperature. While his body constantly regulates this through a muscle in the scrotum, things like hot tubs and saunas can quickly overheat the scrotum. This can reduce sperm count and even kill the sperm. To keep that important count high, eliminate activities that heat up the groin area, including strenuous workouts. It’s a good idea to limit bicycling as well, as it can put weight on the area near the testis, blocking blood flow.

3. Don’t Skip The Vitamins. While there is no magic multivitamin for fertility, there are a number of vitamins and supplements that can help improve male fertility, such as selenium and zinc. Pcynogenol, an extract from French pine tree bark, was shown to improve morphology by 38% when taken orally for only 90 days. I recommend seeing a fertility specialist before starting any new supplements.

4. Put Away That Cell Phone. Numerous recent studies have connected cell phone exposure to male infertility. Specifically, phones emit a radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation even when not in use, so a man carrying a cell phone in his pocket is at risk of abnormal sperm morphology (shape) and motility (movement). The same is true for laptops and tablets. If you’re trying to start a family, keep the electronics off your lap.

5. Reduce Stress Levels. Stress can have an impact on male fertility, throwing off hormone levels. If stress is a factor, I recommend seeking out holistic stress reduction, such as meditation, massage and acupuncture. Acupuncture treatments have been shown to regulate hormonal balance and increase blood flow to the sex organs, improving overall sperm production and quality in less than three months.

6. Don’t Forget The Basics. Don’t lose sight of the basic components of health. Being overweight can be a major factor in both male and female infertility, so eating healthy and exercising regularly can improve fertility. Alcohol and drugs have a negative impact on sperm count and quality, so those should be out several months before you start trying. Lack of sleep has also been connected to male factor problems, so make rest and relaxation a high priority while you focus on starting a family.

7. Get Checked Out Together. If you and your partner have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive for a year (six months if you are over 35), it’s time for both of you to see a specialist. A quick semen analysis will determine a man’s sperm count, concentration, shape, and movement, among other factors. If he needs further testing, a male infertility specialist can perform hormone tests and even genetic tests to identify the issue before recommending treatment.

If you discover that your man requires some help getting his numbers where they need to be in order to conceive, be gentle with him and don’t play the blame game. Both men and women find infertility to be a difficult and oftentimes deeply shameful experience. Reassure him that you are both in this together, and be united in your actions – this can mean going to appointments together, open communication and coping with both good and bad news side by side.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

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