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Infertility is as much a male problem as a female problem. Are you and your partner trying to conceive?

Read on to discover little known causes of male infertility some of which you can easily do something about to increase your chances of getting pregnant. 

Dairy

Everyone knows that a person's diet influences their fertility. A healthy diet influences your chances of conceiving a child positively, while junk-food diets can be detrimental to your chances of having a baby. Who would have thought cheese, milk, and other dairy products could be bad for a man's sperm count? Researchers from the Harvard School scientists of Public and Health in Boston found exactly that. Eating three or more portions of dairy reduces a man's fertility, the study team found. One portion is 250 ml of full-fat milk, a scoop of ice cream, 28 grams of cheese or a teaspoon of cream. If you over-indulge, your sperm count may reduce by 25 percent!

Sperm length variety

Men whose sperm come in many different lengths could have trouble getting their partners pregnant, the latest research from Brown University suggests. These new findings are important, because the flagellum of the sperm, that tail at the end that actually propels the cell forward, wasn't previously looked at during the male fertility testing process. Sperm count and speed were looked at, as well as the shape of the head of the sperm, but that tail at the end had been neglected. The study found that men whose sperm flagella were longer than average seemed to do better, while those with too much variety in length suffered. The study's lead author Jim Mossman said: "The finding could give clinicians new insight into the diagnosis and treatment of male fertility problems, which accounts for up to 50 percent of the cases where couples struggle to conceive."

Age

Women's "biological clocks" are always a hot topic. The idea that men can have children well into their 80s is pretty persistent. That does happen in some causes, but male fertility declines at roughly the same age as female fertility. Australian scientists warn that the chance of conceiving is not the only thing at stake. John Aitken from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales told the recent Fertility Society of Australia: "They don't stop producing sperm, but the quality of those gametes deteriorates with age and the likelihood that the offspring will have some kind of genetic disease increases with the age of the father."

Teenage obesity

What does it matter to your later fertility if you were overweight or obese as a teenager? Obesity significantly harms the sexual development of teenage boys, and the lower testosterone levels associated with obesity can have a long-term impact. This was the conclusion of yet another recent study, published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology. This study measured the testosterone levels of boys aged between 14 and 20. Shockingly, the obese boys' testosterone levels were around 50 percent lower than those of their normal-weight counterparts. Those men who were obese as adults can't turn the clock back now, of course. This study does give parents of boys something to think about. Obesity is a very serious problem, but the impact it can have in future fertility is something we didn't previously know about.

No exercise

Male fertility can have many causes, and it is perhaps no surprise that exercising regularly increases a man's chances of having a baby. Scientists from the University of Cordoba noted that men's sperm quality has generally declined over the last 50 years. Unhealthy lifestyles have of course been blamed, but the team wanted to find out exactly what role exercise played in male fertility. They looked at sperm count, motility and morphology, as well as hormone levels. The team found that men who did not exercise had problems on all counts. Only moderate exercise could improve their fertility, though. If you have been a little too sedentary lately, plan to get active if you are hoping to become a dad in the future. Women should help their partners to establish a regular exercise routine, because their fertility benefits from physical activity just as much.

Maoism

So far, you've seen a little compilation of the world's latest research in male infertility. I promised you surprising reasons for male infertility, but I have to admit the exercise one was pretty obvious. I'll make up for that now, with this last voluntary cause of male infertility that is really very surprising being an Indian Maoist. India may not be known for as a "stronghold of the revolution", but there are quite a few Maoist activists in certain parts of the sub-continent. Maoist cadres hoping to get married need the party's approval of course, and one weird precondition is often that the man has a vasectomy. This prevents family ties getting in the way of politics, apparently. The Indian government is now offering Maoists who want to reintegrate in mainstream society free vasectomy reversals. A Home Ministry communication said that the government will pay for vasectomy reversals to "reduce the temptation of the cadres to return to the Maoist fold. Hence, state governments should consider facilitating vasectomy reversal operations of willing Maoists. Since most sterilisation surgeries are conducted in a crude manner by local quacks, if the reversal operation has to be done in a higher medical centre, the government should bear the costs." Interesting. Unfortunately, vasectomy reversal success rates are still questionable.

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