Having a baby takes two, and there are things that men can do in the lead-up to their partner’s pregnancy. Dr Joe Kosterich talks about how to improve and maintain fertility for men, and some simple facts about the chances of having a boy or girl.

Video: Male fertilityFor all you would-be dad’s and dad’s out there looking to go again, this video is for you. The basics: pregnancy has been going on since the year dot, otherwise none of us would be here. There are some basic and simple tings you can do to improve and maintain your fertility. It may not come as a surprise but it’s the obvious things that make the biggest difference. Being obese or overweight reduces sperm count, so if you have been thinking about going on that diet and loosing those few extra kilos, this would be a good time to do it. Regular exercise is also an important part of that. There are no specific foods to eat or not eat that affect fertility; the main thing is keeping down to a normal weight. Smoking also affects sperm count; there are a lot of reasons not to smoke and this would be another one. Too much alcohol is going to be a problem as well – having a drink or two within the drink safe limit is not going to be an issue, but more than that may affect sperm production.

Now, there is a lot of mythology out there about trying to influence the sex of the baby because it’s the male that has the XY chromosomes and the females that have two X chromosomes. So which one ends up fertilising the egg is out of anyone’s control, but it is a function of the male. You hear about all sorts of foods to eat, exercises to do; whether you should stand on your head, wear tights, eat certain herbs – the list goes on and on. Here are the simple facts: When the sperm are formed, they divide from cells that have both an X and Y chromosome. There are actually going to be equal numbers of X and Y chromosomes, therefore the changes of any couple having a boy or girl is 50/50. It’s a little bit like flipping a coin: if you do it five times, but may get five heads, but over an infinite amount of time, it will eventually become 50/50 each. Same thing happens with pregnancy: people may have two boys or three girls, it’s even possible to have ten of the same sex. It’s not a function of anything other than which sperm gets there first, so no need to waste time chasing up all sorts of different schemes that people might tell you about.

In terms of pregnancy, in some respects – at least in the early stages – the male has a slightly easier part of the bargain. To that extent, there are a few things that you can do to help and the most important thing is to keep yourself in good shape which means sensible diet, healthy weight, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and of course, managing your stress. So keep it fairly simple and keep yourself in good shape, and enjoy being a dad!

More information

Sperm health
For more information on sperm health, including factors affecting sperm health and investigations of sperm health, see Sperm Health

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