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Dealing with the Wait For Fertility Treatment

Are you currently waiting for fertility treatment? If so, you’re not alone. Waitlists in the UK can range between 4 and 6 months and the pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. This can be a frustrating and stressful time, but there are plenty of things you can do whilst you wait to support your physical and mental health, as well as your fertility. 

Adopt healthy habits 

If you’re waiting for fertility treatment, this can be a great time to make sure your physical – and sperm – health is at optimum levels. Even if you are having IVF or ICSI, making sure your swimmers are of the best quality could help improve your chances of conceiving. Sperm regenerates around every 72 days, so use this time to adopt healthy habits that will help them be ready when game time comes. Improving your sleep hygiene, reaching or maintaining a healthy weight and increasing your exercise routine are all healthy habits that could help improve your sperm quality. 

Drop bad ones 

Now is also a great time to address some unhealthy habits you might have. Smoking (cigarettes or weed) is one of the biggest enemies of sperm quality, so using this opportunity to stub out for good is a great use of your time. This might also be a chance to take a look at your relationship with alcohol. Whilst it’s not necessary to completely stop drinking whilst trying to conceive, reducing your weekly intake and curbing binge drinking habits can definitely give your swimmers a boost. There are some great alcohol-free beers out there that make cutting down really easy.  

Dropping these bad habits won’t only help to improve your sperm quality, but they will also set you up to be the healthiest, happiest parent you can be. 

Nutrition 

Your diet is one of the biggest factors that can impact fertility. Many guys attempt an overnight overhaul of their eating habits if they find out they are struggling to conceive, but making slow sustainable changes is a much healthier approach. If you are waiting for fertility treatment, use this as a chance to have fun and experiment with healthy eating. Try out recipes that are full of sperm superfoods, cut down on processed foods and foods containing lots of trans fats and start taking your supplements. This process can also be an enjoyable thing for you and your partner to do together! 

Nurture your relationship 

If you’re embarking on an assisted fertility treatment, it’s likely this has become an all-consuming (and pretty stressful!) part of your life and relationship. When waiting for fertility treatment it’s easy for it to become the sole thing you and your partner are focused on – but take this time to really nurture your relationship and bond as a couple. 

Sure, there are things you can do together that could directly improve your fertility – such as cooking healthy meals or doing exercise classes together – but don’t forget to make time for non-fertility-related fun and romance too. Go on that date night, take that holiday, savour every moment of it being just the two of you – as hopefully, that could all change very soon! 

Keep trying! 

As well as keeping the romance alive, make sure that you’re keeping your sex life active too. There are a few reasons for this (not that we think you’ll need much convincing to prioritise more sex!) Firstly, it’s yet another thing that will increase the intimacy and strengthen the bond between you and your partner – which is incredibly important as you embark on this journey. Secondly, regular ejaculations will keep your sperm fresh and active, which can help improve the overall quality. Sperm cells that stay in your balls too long can become damaged and lethargic – and that’s not what you want once treatment starts. 

And lastly – you could potentially get pregnant! Whilst this won’t happen for everyone, you hear many stories of couples who conceived naturally even when they thought they were destined for assisted fertility treatment. Unprotected sex is not always advised once you are in treatment – but whilst you’re on the waitlist? There’s nothing stopping you! 

Self-care 

As well as looking after the relationship with your partner, now is a great time to reconnect with yourself through a bit of self-care. You are probably going through a million complex feelings right now – so looking after your emotional and mental well-being is paramount. Make sure you are taking time to do the things that light you up and reduce stress. Once treatment kicks off you might find it difficult to prioritise yourself, and you might even be faced with new stresses and challenges – so take this opportunity whilst you can. You might even find that your swimmers appreciate the TLC too! Here are a few ways that self-care could improve your sperm health.  

Get your sperm tested 

If you are going down the assisted fertility treatment route, you might have already had your sperm tested. However, we find that many guys are not offered testing until further down the line – especially if there is an obvious female factor fertility issue at play. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to get to know your swimmer.s Our test lets you do it in the comfort of your own home and you’ll have the results in minutes – you can easily fit it around your self-care routine and pre-treatment date nights,

Check out more about our test right here! 

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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.