When it comes to starting a family, it's just as important for the man to make some dietary and lifestyle changes to boost fertility through healthy sperm and thus increase your chances of conceiving.
Healthy sperm - quality and quantity - is important for getting pregnant. Low sperm count is when a man has fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen.
Poor sperm motility - the ability of sperm to move and swim towards the egg - can also make it difficult to conceive.
The size and shape of sperm cells are also important because if sperm have abnormal shaped heads or tails, successful conception becomes difficult.
Sperm DNA is also a crucial part of conception. Having high levels of DNA fragmentation can be a major cause of infertility, recurrent miscarriage and failed IUI or IVF cycles.
A Sperm DNA fragmentation test looks at the quality of the DNA within the sperm.
While medical intervention might ultimately be necessary to help you start a family, there are some dietary and lifestyle changes men can make to boost fertility through healthy sperm and increase your chances of conceiving.
Diet, weight and exercise
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight is essential for keeping your sperm in good condition.
Sperm-boosting foods include:
- at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- high fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- dairy or dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts
- beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
Being overweight (having a body mass index above 25) may affect the quality and quantity of your sperm.
If you're overweight and trying for a baby, you should try to lose weight by combining healthy eating with regular exercise.
Stress can affect male fertility in various ways. It can lower your sex drive, which may reduce how often you have sex, thus affecting your chances of conceiving.
But severe stress can actually limit sperm production. So it's important to manage your stress levels when you're trying to get pregnant.
Smoking can reduce fertility, so you should give up smoking if you want to become a dad.
Drinking alcohol excessively can affect the quality of sperm.
Some recreational drugs are known to damage sperm quality and reduce male fertility. So you should avoid taking certain types of drugs if you're trying for a baby.
- anabolic steroids
Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can also affect male fertility.
Long-term use of some antibiotics can affect both sperm quality and quantity. But these effects are usually reversed three months after stopping the medicine.
Speak to your doctor or other healthcare professional if you're taking a medicine and you're unsure whether it could affect your fertility.