So often, articles about conception and fertility are geared towards women – especially when it comes to common conditions such as endometriosis or PCOS, which are leading causes of infertility. This time, we’re here to let men know there are things they can do to increase their sperm count and produce healthy, viable sperm that are strong enough swimmers to make their way to the target. FYI: The ideal sperm count for men who are trying to conceive is 15+ million sperm per milliliter of semen.

To help you reach and exceed that goal, we offer these 6 tips to improve your sperm count and increase your chances of fertility.

1. Lay off the cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. There is no doubt about it, men who smoke, consume chronically higher-than-average amounts of alcohol or use drugs have lower sperm counts than those who don’t. This includes the use of anabolic steroids. Giving up these habits will improve your general health too, but it’s especially important if you are trying to get pregnant. Quitting unhealthy lifestyle habits will help you conceive faster and will make you a better parent overall. Talk to your healthcare provider about your recovery options.

2. Provide ample protection. If your testicles are damaged, it can affect sperm count and quality. If you play sports or participate in hobbies that run the risk of causing blunt force trauma to the testicles, wear a jock strap at the least and a cup at the most. Remove them as soon as you can post-activity to keep your testicles from overheating, which leads us to Number 3.

3. Keep the nether regions from overheating. While the debate about boxers or briefs continues ad nauseam, one thing is for certain: overheating the testicles can lower sperm count. If you’re trying to keep your sperm at optimal numbers, keep out of hot tubs, try to wear loose and airy clothing, take a break from the post-workout sauna and sleep without any underwear if you can.

4. Get tested for STDs. Even if you have been monogamous for years, there is a chance you’re harboring an asymptomatic (no sign of symptoms) sexually transmitted disease. STDs are a leading cause of infertility in both men and women. Get tested just to be sure you didn’t pick something up in your pre-monogamous days so you can be treated ASAP if there’s a positive test result.

5. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can decrease your sperm count. Research has shown that men who are overweight can have issues with sperm count as well as sperm motility (how well they move), both of which will make it more difficult to get pregnant.

6. Eat healthy, pesticide-free foods and drink filtered water. Not only will this help you to maintain a healthy weight (see above), pesticides have also been linked to lower sperm count. Opt for foods that are made with pesticide-free ingredients. This will mean avoiding fast food and most restaurants for a while unless they advertise ingredients that meet these standards. In lieu of the link between pesticides and low sperm count, drink filtered water. The pesticides used to spray Big Ag crops makes their way into our ground water. Experts feel that this may be one of the leading causes of low sperm count, which is more prevalent in areas of the U.S. where pesticides are used.

Are you and your partner having a hard time conceiving? Are you worried a low sperm count may be an issue? Contact your healthcare provider or give us a call at Overlake OB/GYN at 425-454-3366. We can put you in touch with fertility specialists who can help.