Physical Readiness: Not Just for Women
People still seem to think of pregnancy and planning pregnancy as women's work. You've probably guessed by now that this is simply not true. Your partner will have a lot to do with how successful you are at becoming and staying healthy during pregnancy. In fact, today we know that men's health can and does affect the health of your baby-to-be.
Chemicals, drugs, and other toxins can affect sperm quality and quantity, and even alter the sperm on a chromosomal level. This is why it's extremely important that men take seriously the idea of preparing for pregnancy.
Male smoking can change sperm on a morphological level as well as change the seminal fluid that surrounds it; both of these can lead to decreased viability of that sperm. Smoking by the male also lowers the density and motility of the sperm. Some studies have also shown that sperm from male smokers may lead to birth defects and childhood cancers.
Exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, especially for the man trying to achieve a pregnancy. There are a few things he needs to watch. Long-distance runners (those who run more than 100 miles a week) and cyclists who ride more than 50 miles per week may have lower sperm counts. The good news is that your sperm counts should return to normal if you temporarily alter your workout schedule.
By maintaining a healthy diet, a man also can help ensure his body is functioning at its prime. This enables all of his body systems to be in good working order. When his body is healthy, it makes healthy, high-quality sperm.
Unlike women, who are born with every egg they will ever have, a man begins to produce sperm when he starts puberty and will continue to do so his entire life. It takes about three months for sperm to mature, so the sperm that gets you pregnant today was created and raised in his body over the last three months. This means it was exposed to everything he was exposed to during that period. Your partner should think about making these healthier choices a few months before you attempt a pregnancy.
In addition to the simple physical standpoint of a healthy body, having your partner at your side as you make these lifestyle changes can make them easier to live with. In other words, a decision you make together is much easier to abide by than one you make alone. For example, if you decide it's time to add exercise to your life, what helps more? The partner lying on the couch while you go out and walk, or the partner who says, “Let's go together!”? It takes two to tango (and perform other forms of healthy living), so get on the ball and support each other in your new baby-friendly lifestyle.