What men can do during the fertility journey
WHAT MEN CAN DO DURING THE FERTILITY JOURNEY
The fertility journey can be an exciting time in a marriage…until it’s not. Once a couple reaches the threshold of being described as “fertility-challenged”, the joy of baby making becomes more tedious and stressful. I recall trying to explain to my OBGYN how challenging and frustrating it was to keep trying after a year. She did not understand why I was having trouble having timed “relations” with my husband every month. She suggested that I buy a French Maid costume and a blonde wig as a solution. And then charged me a copay. No nutrition advice…no lifestyle tips…no tests…just buy a French maid costume. Yes, we switched doctors.
HINDSIGHT IS 50/50
Knowing what I know now, here are some things that I wish someone suggested my husband do early in our fertility journey.
1. Get tested. It is still very common to think that fertility challenges are due to female issues. A simple semen analysis would have given us a better glimpse into what we were working with. It is a simple test that can be done at the doctor’s office. If your guy is one that will only go to a doctor’s office kicking and screaming, thankfully there are other options that can be done in the privacy and comfort of his own home. Trak is my favorite because it is uncomplicated and accurate. Trak does not offer a complete semen analysis, but the results may give some clues as to why a couple is having challenges. (FYI if you want to try Trak out, click here and use code TRYNOW5 to get $5 off)
2. Lose weight. My husband is not a slender fellow, and he is a candidate to lose weight if he wants his body mass index (BMI) to be within the recommended range. In general, those whom are considered obese are at higher risk of having fertility challenges. In a review of 30 studies that included 115,158 men, researchers found the following results:
· Obesity was associated with more incidence of sperm with DNA fragmentation and abnormal shape (among other sperm-related issues).
· The rate of live births per cycle of ART (assisted reproduction technology) for obese men was reduced compared with men who were not considered obese.
· There was a 10% absolute risk increase of pregnancy that resulted in miscarriage.
Losing weight not only would have supported his fertility, but it is a good thing to do to help ensure that he will be around to see his future child graduate from college.
3. Exercise as a couple. This is simple advice that would have benefitted our bodies, minds, and marriage. Moving as a couple is motivating and there are countless studies suggesting that moderate exercise supports fertility goals. We started rollerblading together after we were about two years into our journey, and I have regrets that we didn’t do it sooner (I also have regrets that we are both so dorky that we chose rollerblading as our exercise. Don’t judge). That time together was so important for our relationship. We motivated each other to get off of our tooshies and stop binging on Dexter. It also forced us to spend quality time together without distractions so we could connect and communicate. It brought us into nature and forced us to breathe. It was wonderful for stress management and is a great way to help support weight loss goals if that is needed.
4. Eat more fish and seafood as a couple. Amazing results are emerging suggesting that couples who eat more fish and seafood seem to have an easier time conceiving. One recent study also highlights how couples who eat more seafood do the deed more frequently too. That would have been an easy thing to do as a couple had we understood the importance of that swap.
5. Include certain foods into his diet. I wish I knew what I know now about how foods can fuel male fertility (shameless plug: you can learn ALL about these foods in my book Fueling Male Fertility). Simple additions like including a Brazil nut into his snacks to provide natural selenium or sending him off to work with a packet of dried fruit for the fertility-friendly antioxidants it provides would have been an easy intervention that may have helped.
6. Once IVF or IUI cycles begin, he wasn’t off the hook with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I hate to say it, but assisted reproduction cycles fail. When they fail, the doctors need another sample from the male. My husband completely fell off of the wagon after he gave his deposit because he thought he was “off the hook” every time. It takes 2-3 months for spermatogenesis to occur, so it would have been best if he continued on as if we were still “trying”. We ended up doing repeated cycles and he provided countless deposits, sometimes a month after a failed cycle.
Hindsight is 50/50. But I hope that these simple tips help other couples who are embarking on their journey to hopefully bring them one step closer to their dream of adding to their families.
As always, I am happy to help sort through the nutrition and supplement recommendations out there for your guy. Just shoot me an email at NutritionNowCounseling@gmail.com.
(please note, this page contains affiliate links. The small commission I receive from the link will be donated so you can rest assured that the recommendation isn’t motivated by any personal potential profit gain)