Fertility Facts for Men
Healthy sperm are essential to fathering a child. But they’re not a given. By Matt McMillen
Reviewed by Sheldon Marks, MD on March 24, 2016 From the WebMD Archives
You can’t slow the clock, but you can protect your fertility in other ways. Start by watching what you eat, Gilbert says. Pay attention to your cholesterol levels, too. Those can affect a sperm’s membrane, making it harder for the sperm to fuse with an egg. Gilbert advises his patients to control their cholesterol through diet and exercise if possible. No one knows whether cholesterol-lowering meds affect fertility.Other drugs do have a serious impact — and “not just drugs like cocaine and marijuana, which are known to affect semen quality and erectile function,” Gilbert says. “Chemotherapy and radiation for cancer or even surgery for malignant disease can be what we call gonadotoxic, or harmful to the sperm-producing testicles. Fortunately, you can store your sperm ahead of time.” Ask your doctor about sperm banking before you begin treatment.Testosterone replacement therapy can also be a concern. It drastically reduces or stops sperm production while you take it. And, Gilbert says, “15% of men on testosterone don’t get sperm production back when they stop treatment.”A healthy weight helps you make healthy sperm, so keep fit. “Obesity influences hormones, particularly estrogen, which can impact whether you produce enough sperm and whether those sperm work properly,” Gilbert says. “It also can cause the brain to send out fewer signals telling the testes to produce sperm.”
Ask Your Doctor
1. Can lifestyle changes help preserve my fertility?2. Will any of the medications I take affect my fertility?3. Do I have medical conditions that might make it difficult to conceive? Should I treat them now?4. How long should my partner and I try to conceive before getting tested for fertility issues?5. Are there tests I should have to check if I am fertile?