Read more about the best time to get pregnant.
There are also a number of lifestyle changes you can make to improve your chances of becoming a dad.
Your testicles are outside your body because, to produce the best quality sperm, they need to be kept slightly cooler than the rest of you. The ideal temperature for sperm production is around 34.5C, which is slightly below body temperature (around 37C).
If you’re trying to conceive, taking a few simple measures to keep your testicles cool may help. For example, if your job involves working in a hot environment, take regular breaks outside. If you sit still for long periods, get up and move around regularly.
Wearing tight underwear is also thought to increase testicle temperature by up to 1C. Although research has shown that tight underwear does not seem to affect sperm quality, you may want to wear loose-fitting underwear, such as boxer shorts, while trying to conceive.
Smoking can reduce fertility, so you should give up smoking if you want to become a dad.
Smoking around a newborn baby also significantly increases their chances of respiratory disease and cot death (sudden infant death syndrome).
Your GP will be able to provide advice and treatment to help you quit smoking. You can also visit the NHS Smokefree website for more help and advice about quitting smoking, or you can call the helpline on 0300 123 1044 (9am-8pm Monday to Friday, 11am-4pm Saturday and Sunday).
Drinking alcohol excessively can affect the quality of sperm. The UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation is to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, which should be spread evenly over three days or more.
One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of half a pint of beer or lager, or a single pub measure (25ml) of spirits. A small glass of wine (125ml) contains 1.5 units of alcohol.
Some recreational drugs are known to damage sperm quality and reduce male fertility. These include:
- anabolic steroids
- opiates such as heroin and methadone
You should avoid taking these types of drugs if you’re trying for a baby.
Diet, weight and exercise
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight is essential for keeping your sperm in good condition. Your diet should include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day; carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread and pasta; and lean meat, fish and pulses for protein.
Being overweight (having a body mass index above 25) may affect the quality and quantity of your sperm.
Stress can affect your relationship. It can also lower your or your partner’s sex drive (libido), which may reduce how often you have sex. Severe stress may also limit sperm production. So when trying to conceive, learning to relax and taking steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life will help.