Mental health is as important as physical health for male sexual performance


How smoking, alcohol and stress harm male fertility

It’s fairly safe to say that most men don’t believe their own behaviour will affect their chances of having a baby with their partner. But men should be just as aware of the damage their lifestyle choices can do to their fertility as many women are.

Reducing their regular alcohol consumption – or cutting it out altogether – is probably the change that most men would struggle with most. But smoking is just as harmful to male fertility, and the fact that it’s easier now to quit than ever before (thanks to the range of different options and alternatives available to us) should encourage more men to change their lifestyle in the weeks and months before trying to conceiving.


How much alcohol is safe for male fertility?

We know it’s not realistic to expect regular drinkers to suddenly go teetotal, but gradually reducing your alcohol intake until it is as low as 4 units per week (two pints of lager) should considerably improve your chances of conceiving naturally or when undergoing fertility treatment.

Smoking damages sperm production and overall fertility

Direct and passive smoking doesn’t just affect female fertility. On average, men who have regularly consumed first- or second-hand smoke produce only 80% of the sperm that a male non-smoker will produce. The toxins in cigarette smoke have been found in studies to damage both sperm count and sperm motility, and cutting out cigarettes should be one of your first priorities if you are trying to conceive.

Small changes that can help sperm production

Damage to your testes can directly affect your fertility. The testes keep sperm at a cooler temperature outside the body, and when they are subjected to intense heat your sperm may mutate and become dormant. It can be your job that puts you in a working environment where you are subjected to intense heat, and it’s often not practical for many men to ask to change their working conditions for the sake of their fertility. If your employer is reasonable they may allow you to avoid spending too much time in a hot kitchen or on a factory floor (depending on your job, of course).

But there are still a number of situations you can avoid at home to improve the quality and quantity of your sperm:

Hot baths and saunas – reducing the temperature of a bath by just a few degrees could make a big difference to your sperm.

Tight underwear and trousers – as fashionable as tight pants and skinny jeans may look, they can stop your sperm developing at the rate and quality that it should do.

Sitting down for long periods – if your job involves long hours sitting at a desk or a steering wheel, make sure you counteract this by not sitting in the same spot for long periods before and/or after work.

If you would like to find out more information about male fertility or you would like to make an appointment for a semen assessment, simply call us on 01992 78 50 60 or email

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