While fatherhood might be far from the minds of most young men, behavior patterns they establish early on may impact their ability to become a dad later in life. Excessive laptop use tops this list of liabilities, according to one reproductive specialist at Loyola University Health System (LUHS).
"Laptops are becoming increasingly common among young men wired into to the latest technology," said Suzanne Kavic, MD, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at LUHS and associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and department of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "However, the heat generated from laptops can impact sperm production and development making it difficult to conceive down the road."
Kavic recommends placing laptops on desktops to prevent damaging sperm and decreasing counts and motility. Other tips to protect male fertility include:
- Avoiding hot tubs
- Using boxers over briefs
- Refraining from ejaculating too frequently (the recommendation is to only engage in sexual intercourse every other day around ovulation)
- Exercising moderately (one hour, three to five times per week)
- Avoiding exercise that can generate heat or trauma to the genital area
- Eating well
- Taking a daily multivitamin
- Getting eight hours of sleep per night
- Staying hydrated and limiting caffeine to no more than two cups per day
- Refraining from smoking
- Avoiding drugs and excessive alcohol use
- Minimizing exposure to toxins
- Avoiding excessive weight gain or weight loss
- Practicing stress reduction techniques
Forty percent of fertility issues are attributed to males. Other leading causes of male infertility include varicocoeles or enlarged varicose veins in the scrotum. This condition can raise the temperature in the testicles and damage or kill sperm. Other reasons include genital injuries or defects, certain sexually transmitted infections, prostatitis (an infection or inflammation of the prostate), immune and hormonal disorders and erectile dysfunction. Kavic also notes that underlying health issues and medications may be to blame for fertility issues.
"Medications for depression, blood pressure and certain heart conditions may lower libido or cause impotence," said Kavic. "Men should talk with their physicians to see if medication is necessary or if they can switch to another with fewer side effects."
Reproductive endocrinology services available for males at LUHS include consultations, medical history and physical examinations, semen analysis, intrauterine inseminations by husband donor, assessments for the need for assisted reproductive technology and referrals to support services and alternative medicine.
"With Father's Day around the corner, males should be reminded to take care of their health," said Kavic. "An annual physical exam combined with a healthy lifestyle may make it easier to become a dad when the time is right."