What you need to know:
- While there are many factors that can impact reproductive health, making some lifestyle changes can help to improve it.
- If you are trying to conceive, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise can all help.
It's no secret that our lifestyles have a significant impact on our overall health. Everything from the food we eat to the amount of sleep we get can affect our well-being. It should come as no surprise, then, that these same lifestyle choices can impact our reproductive health. If you're looking to maintain optimal reproductive health, it's important to be aware of these habits and make adjustments where necessary. While some of these may seem obvious, others may come as a surprise.
You are probably aware of the harmful effects of smoking on your lungs, throat, and respiratory system in general. But the toxins in cigarettes don't dwell in the respiratory system only. They are circulated throughout the body and harm other body organs and interfere with the biological system. The male reproductive system is one of those affected by toxic chemicals from cigarettes. Not only does it decrease sperm count and motility, but it also increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. In terms of quantity, smoking reduces sperm concentration by around 23 percent. It affects the morphology (shape and structure) of sperm cells too, leading to low motility. If you're trying to conceive, it's best to quit smoking altogether.
Drinking excessive alcohol can have a negative impact on reproductive health. Alcohol impacts the reproductive health of men at the hormone level. Men who drink excessively have lower levels of male sex hormones including testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). On the other hand, alcohol increases the levels of oestrogen in the male body. The impact of the hormonal imbalance affects the reproductive process extensively. It lowers sperm production and damages the morphology of sperm. You may even notice a reduction in the size of testicles. Continued excessive consumption of alcohol can eventually lead to erectile dysfunction.
Eating a poor diet can also affect reproductive health. A diet high in processed foods, for example, can lead to low sperm count and motility. Spermatogenesis, the process of sperm production, also requires lots of proteins and vitamins. A lack of healthy proteins, vitamins, and minerals can lower the quantity and quality of sperms you produce.
Unhealthy diets also cause obesity which interferes with the normal blood flow needed for a healthy erection. Eating a healthy diet, on the other hand, can improve reproductive health. Nuts, fresh vegetables, fruits, and healthy sources of proteins can boost the production of healthy sperms.
A sedentary lifestyle
Not getting enough exercise can impact reproductive health. Exercise helps to increase testosterone levels, which can in turn improve sperm count and motility. It can also help to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, can lead to obesity and reduced blood flow, and, subsequently, erections.
If you often use your laptop with it placed on your lap, you may be inadvertently harming your reproductive health. Studies have shown that the heat generated from the laptop can cause scrotal hyperthermia, which damages sperm cells and reduces their count. Radiation from laptops has also been found to have a significant impact on male fertility, especially when the laptop is placed in the laps. Further, using a protective pad has been shown to be of little use. If you want to use your laptop for more than 30 minutes, the safest practice is to use it on a desk.
You may not notice the changes outwardly, but inside, you are killing your sperms.
Stress and mental health
While the direct impact of stress on reproductive health is not clear, it is known to have an indirect impact. When you are stressed, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode and diverts all its energy towards dealing with the stressor. This means other systems in the body, including the reproductive system, are put on hold. In men, stress can lead to low testosterone levels, which in turn impacts sperm count and motility. It can also cause erectile dysfunction.
To improve your reproductive health, it is important to manage stress levels. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises are all excellent ways to manage stress. You can also try to get more sleep and exercise regularly.