You aren't alone if you feel like the burden of building a viable baby seems to fall unreasonably heavily on the mother, but the reality is the health of the sperm can play a huge role in how successful a pregnancy is or isn’t.
And sperm, as it turns out, are fickle little fuckers.
Here are some of the things that can have detrimental effects on sperm:
Not only can stress decrease the concentration of sperm in the man milk (sorry, I had to), it can also affect the shape, size, and motility of the dad’s little swimmers.
The actual numbers of what constitutes excessive are up for interpretation, but just like stress, too much alcohol can decrease the number of healthy, normally-formed sperm.
In addition to giving you a bad case of the black lung (among other less desirable conditions), smoking appears to also change the careful balance of proteins in sperm, increasing both your chances at being infertile, as well as miscarrying if fertilization happens to occur.
(You have to say this is an Old Man Jenkins voice)
Crack is whack, yo, as is meth, cocaine, and any other substance you buy on a street corner (or anywhere except a pharmacy, after being prescribed by a doctor), and should be avoided for a multitude of reasons, fertility being just one of them.
In what can only be described as painfully ironic, a study out of Buffalo found that sperm from men who smoked pot suffered “burnout” after essentially starting the race too soon, and with too much gusto. Another study found sperm from men who smoked marijuana once in the last three months to be misshapen, and of an irregular size.
If there’s one thing (besides the baby) that sperm and pregnant women have in common, it’s being aggressively temperature sensitive. Even a slight increase in the temperature of their skin hammock can impair sperm production. Things like hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, and even heated seats in the car can negatively affect sperm production.
An Unbalanced or Otherwise Unhealthy Diet:
There are studies that suggest processed meat consumption could be a contributing factor in infertility, and others that show not enough Vitamin C or Zinc can cause sperm to clump up. Eat a healthy balanced diet, and everybody wins.
Speaking of balanced diets, being both obese AND too skinny can negatively affect fertility.
Untreated Infections or Chronic Diseases:
STDs are bad, umkay? Left untreated, they can permanently damage the plumbing and delivery system. Other infections, like UTIs and Mumps, can also wreck shop.
A recently published study showed that men or women who drank three or more cups of caffeinated beverages BEFORE pregnancy, the risk of early miscarriage was nearly double.
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango.
The health of the dad plays a pretty key role in not only conceiving, but also in maintaining a healthy pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy child. While a healthy man doesn’t always make healthy sperm, his best chances at ensuring he brings his A-game definitely involves being proactive about his preconception health.
The CDC has more information on all these topics here.
Our next recos: Your Pregnant Body – 20 Things They Don’t Tell You