October 7, 2012

Labtops Fertility Warning

Father's Day has prompted one fertility expert to issue a fresh warning to men who use their laptop computers on, er, their laps. Suzanne Kavic, director of reproductive endocrinology at Loyola University, says that most men underestimate the effect that the heat from laptops can have on sperm production.
"Laptops are becoming increasingly common among young men wired into to the latest technology," said Kavic. "However, the heat generated from laptops can impact sperm production and development making it difficult to conceive down the road."
Fertility problems are typically thought of as relating to the female partner, but Kavic points out that 40 percent of fertility issues are attributed to the male. 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), hormonal disorders and erectile dysfunction.
For laptop users, Kavic recommends placing the machines on desktops toprevent damaging sperm and decreasing counts and motility. She also offered other tips to help protect male fertility, including:

  • 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
  • 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
"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. With Father's Day, males should be reminded to take care of their health. A healthy lifestyle may make it easier to become a dad when the time is right."

Dads-to-be: Diet changes to boost your fertility

Nutrition has a direct impact on the potency of your sperm. Research shows that poor eating habits and regular consumption of alcohol, for instance, can lower the quality and quantity of sperm, making conception more difficult. And since infertility is nearly as much a man's issue as a woman's — up to 40 percent of fertility problems can be traced to men — eating healthfully now will boost your chances of conceiving a child.

Conception isn't the only reason to revamp your diet. Additional research shows that dads who drink heavily — the equivalent of two alcoholic beverages a day — in the month before conception have babies who weigh on average 6.5 ounces less than other babies. Low birth weight is a serious medical condition that can affect your child's physical and mental well-being for the rest of his life.

Whether drinking coffee will harm or help your fertility is less clear. Although some research suggests caffeine hampers male fertility, one Brazilian study found coffee drinkers' sperm actually showed an improved ability to swim, which might boost fertility. The safest bet, though, is to limit your coffee to a cup or two a day.

Which nutrients are most important?

Your diet should be every bit as balanced, varied, and nutritious as your partner's. Some specific advice for future dads:
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants. These nutrients help prevent sperm defects and boost its motility (movement). An 8-ounce glass of orange juice contains about 124 milligrams of C. Aim for at least 90 mg a day — more, at least 125 mg, if you smoke.
  • Get enough zinc. Several studies show that even short-term zinc deficiencies can reduce semen volume and testosterone levels. Great sources to help you get the daily 11 mg you need include oysters (six medium oysters have a whopping 16 mg), extra-lean beef tenderloin (a 3-ounce serving has 4.8 mg), baked beans (a 1-cup serving contains 3.5 mg), and dark chicken meat (2.38 mg per 3 ounces).
  • Fuel up on folic acid. Studies suggest that men with low levels of this key B vitamin — the same one women need to reduce the baby's risk for neural tube birth defects — have lower sperm counts. You may be able to get the daily minimum of 400 micrograms from fortified breakfast cereals, leafy greens, legumes, and orange juice, but taking a folic acid or a multivitamin supplement for extra insurance can't hurt.
  • Boost your calcium and vitamin D. Consuming 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 IU (10 micrograms) of vitamin D each day may improve a man's fertility, according to research from University of Wisconsin at Madison. Good calcium sources include skim milk (an 8-ounce glass has 302 mg) and yogurt (1 cup of plain yogurt contains 415 mg of calcium).You can get vitamin D from milk (an 8-ounce glass has 98 IU) and salmon (a 3-ounce serving has 360 IU).
  • Cut out (or back on) alcohol. While an occasional drink is generally considered safe, studies show that daily wine, beer, or hard liquor consumption can reduce testosterone levels and sperm counts and raise the number of abnormal sperm in your ejaculate.