You may think your swimmers are invincible, but what you eat, drink, and even how you exercise can harm your ability to make a baby. “The assumption has been that men make so much sperm every day that it doesn’t matter what they do, but we’re beginning to realize that’s not the case,” says Alice Domar, MD, executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston and assistant professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School. Even though you won’t be carrying the baby (well, not until it’s born anyway), your swimmers provide half the genetic code for your heir. Read on to discover the top sperm killers, and make these small moves for healthier (and more plentiful) sperm.
Sperm Killer #1: Popping Hair Loss Drugs & Antidepressants
An active ingredient in Propecia, known as finasteride, has been found to reduce male hormone activity, reports the FDA. It, along with BPH drug Proscar (used to shrink enlarged prostates), are now required to carry a label that states, ‘Propecia and Proscar may cause male infertility and/or poor semen quality. This side effect lessens or goes away after men stop taking the drugs.’
Anti-depressants, including Paxil and Prozac, may also affect your fertility by potentially damaging DNA. Bottom line: Any man trying to make a baby who is on medication needs to ask a specialist about whether they’re safe to take when trying to conceive, says Dr. Domar.
Sperm Killer #2: Frequent Cycling Sessions
The reason testicles hang low is to keep sperm at 96 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 degrees cooler than you body). “Bicycling presses on them and raises them up into the body, which can cook the little guys,” Domar explains. The prolonged pressure from the bike seat may also potentially damage reproductive arteries and veins.
Other forms of exercise should be okay (moderate, regular workouts can actually boost testosterone)—as long as you don’t push yourself to your limit (excessive exercise actually throws hormone levels off). Also, make sure your boys are “keeping cool and hanging normally,” says Dr. Domar. If you are doing sports such as soccer or basketball, be sure to protect your boys with cups—but just not for an extended period of time.
Sperm Killer #3: Hanging Out in Hot Tubs
A soak in a hot tub can ease muscle soreness after a long workout—or put you in the mood for a baby-making session. Yet frequent dips in the hot tub (or hangouts in the steam room or sauna) can squash sperm production by overheating your boys, just as cycling can raise the temperature of your testicles.