Susannah Hickling

Want babies? Get a job, lose the Lycra – and other fertility tips

Did you know that one in six couples in the UK have difficulty conceiving? That’s roughly 3.5 million not very happy people. A healthy diet, not smoking and not being too overweight or too underweight can all improve your chances of having a baby. Here are some other ideas worth a try.

Take care with technology. Both mobile phones and laptops have been implicated in reducing sperm quality. Research has found that while using a phone increased testosterone, it also reduced levels of luteinising hormone, important in male fertility. Carrying your phone around in your trouser pocket is not great either and, as for laptops, using one on your lap if you’re a man should be considered a no-no – increasing scrotal temperatures over a long period is bad for your sperm.

Take a shower. In fact, anyone wanting to be a dad should avoid heat around their nether regions, full stop. Studies have shown that hot tubs and hot baths can harm fertility in men. What’s more, cyclists should not be pulling on tight Lycra, as it traps heat.

Get a job. Blokes who work have better sperm quality than men who are unemployed, research suggests – however stressed the workers are. This seemingly gives lie to the idea that work-stress affects your chances of having children.

Cut back on coffee. Women who drink more than five cups of coffee per day have lower fertility. But experts say that one or two is fine – so no need to cut it out completely.

Try acupuncture. Men and women benefit from acupuncture if they want to become parents. Several studies have shown that women who have the treatment are more likely to get pregnant, while others have found that acupuncture improved sperm quality and swimming-speed in men with fertility problems.

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