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How to Nurture Your Relationship Whilst TTC

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we’ve got love on the brain here at ExSeed HQ. If you’re in a relationship, you’re probably aware of the strain a fertility journey can put on you and your partner – so how can you keep the love alive? Here are our top tips for nurturing your relationship – and your fertility – on the road to parenthood. 

Keep Sex Fun

When you first start trying for a baby, if you’re in a male-female partnership, sex shoots up to the top of your to do list – which might sound like music to your ears! However, sexual burn out is a real thing – even for couples with the highest of libidos. Between fertile windows and ovulation tracking, you might find that you are struggling to maintain the romance and intimacy in your sexual relationship, and the stress of a fertility journey can start to take its toll on your mental wellbeing – which can leave you feeling less than up for it. 

Likewise, if you are having fertility treatments or having a baby through surrogacy, sex might not seem as important – but that’s simply not true. Just because intercourse isn’t the route to parenthood for you, doesn’t mean that it should be left by the wayside. Nurturing intimacy is maybe even more important if you are going through treatments that could put a lot of strain on you both – so make sure to make time for a bit of love making in between fertility appointments!  

If you’re struggling, it’s really important to talk to your partner. Don’t get bogged down in the idea that guys should have an endless appetite for sex or that you should be grateful your partner is so keen to spend time in the bedroom. Being honest about how you’re feeling will actually bring you closer and could reignite that intimacy that can sometimes be lost during a fertility journey. It’s also essential that you keep pleasure as a high priority and don’t lose sight of the fact that sex is about fun, as much as it is about fertility. You can check out some of our tips on sex when trying to conceive here!

Playing an active role 

There’s nothing sexier than being a supportive partner. When it comes to making a baby there is way more admin involved than you may realise. From tracking cycles to appointments with specialists, a fertility journey can require a lot of time and mental energy – which only increases if things aren’t going as smoothly as you would like. Sometimes there can be one partner who leads the charge on these things, which can cause feelings of resentment and drive a wedge between you. Making a baby is a team sport, and you’re not going to win Man of the Match if your partner is carrying you the whole time. 

Playing an active role and showing that you are willing to share the mental load will make your partner feel loved and supported – which can only have a positive impact on your relationship. That could mean taking the initiative to read up on sperm production or get your sperm tested proactively with our at home test! If you’re heading down the assisted fertility route it might mean researching treatments or getting a list together of potential clinics. Whatever you do, don’t bury your head in the sand and leave everything to your partner – this is a huge life-changing thing for you both and you should be in it together from start to finish. 

Offer Emotional Support 

Emotional support is just as important as the practical –  and both you and your partner are likely to need a lot on your fertility journey. The truth is that friends and family will want to be there for you if things aren’t going well – but only you and your partner will truly understand what it’s like, so you are going to be each other’s rocks throughout this process. 

It can be tempting to ignore painful feelings and shy away from difficult conversations – as men this is often what we are taught to do! – but your partner needs you to be there for them now more than ever. You might assume that means that you always have to be strong or have all the answers – but the truth is that being emotionally vulnerable is just as important. It can help your partner feel understood, nurture the bond between you and show them that you are on the same page – and that you want this pregnancy just as much as they do. That said, you may be reacting to the stress in different ways, and that’s ok too – it’s all about communication. Create time and space each day for you to get things off your chest and be there for each other, it will make a massive difference to your mental wellbeing – and your relationship. 

Making Changes Together 

Getting ready to become parents involves a lot of physical preparation as well as mental. If your partner is on a mission to support their fertility and get their body ready for pregnancy (if they plan on carrying the baby), you’ve probably noticed a lot more kale on the menu and your bathroom cabinets filling up with supplements. But are you doing the same? 

Well, for guys, diet and lifestyle changes can be seriously powerful when it comes to improving your sperm health – so you definitely should be! Increasing your exercise routine and including sperm superfoods in your meal plan can really help boost the quality of your swimmers, which is going to make conception more likely, regardless of which route you’re going down. 

The other thing to consider is that healthy living is easier if you do it together. There may be certain habits, like smoking or drinking alcohol, that you want to drop ahead of pregnancy, and you’re definitely more likely to stick to these changes if you’re in it together and supporting each other. It can also be a lot of fun. Whether you’re going for a joint run or cooking up nutritious meals together – being healthy can feel more like date night than a chore if you approach it as a team!

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.

Stress

Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.

Nutrition

Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Vegetables
Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.

Heat

Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.

BMI

There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  

Alcohol

A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.

Age

Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.