Staying healthy during the new normal can be a challenge.
Even though lockdown restrictions have begun to loosen around Australia, many of us may still feel apprehensive about returning totally to business as usual.
Fewer opportunities to exercise, brain fog from working from home, the challenges of looking after a family, the difficulties of studying remotely and many more; the pandemic has brought a number of factors that may make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, if your goal is to continue to look after your sexual and reproductive health, here are some ways that you can stay healthy during the pandemic.
- Plan ahead
- Make daily exercise a priority
- Try new recipes each week
- Create fun rituals with friends and colleagues
- Practice mindfulness
- Prioritise good sleep
- Don’t overindulge with alcohol
- Stick with it
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail! The weeks (spent mainly at home) may feel like they are zipping by you or they could feel long and tedious, either way, the more you plan, the better you are likely to feel. Planning out your week will also help to make you feel more in control of the things that you can control. Where possible — try to plan ahead, whether it’s the best times to work, exercise, socialise or have some alone time. Emotional stress interferes with some of the hormones that help to produce sperm. Long, chronic bouts of stress may affect your fertility by affecting your sperm count. By planning, you can map out a week that suits your needs and wants and in turn, help with stress reduction.
Make daily exercise a priority
You should be aiming to get some form of exercise in each day. Not only does it help with your mental wellbeing, it also promotes proper functioning in almost every other system in the body. The Australian Government Department of Health encourages people aged between 18-64 years of age to engage in physical activity every day of the week or to get 150-300 minutes of exercise each week. Daily exercise is also important for reproductive and sexual health because maintaining a healthy weight ensures that your body is producing the right hormones for sperm production such as testosterone. Exercise also helps to maintain a healthy sex life.
Try new recipes each week
You may be sick of cooking all your meals for yourself or for your family, but there is no reason that cooking at home can’t be fun. While there may be a temptation to get takeaways, now is the time when you can start to incorporate new and interesting flavors into your mealtimes. Trying new things in the kitchen doesn’t need to break the bank either, there are plenty of free blogs and YouTube videos out there to help inspire you.
While there are no particular foods that promote fertility in men, you should be eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. According to a 2018 study, the consumption of nuts may have a positive impact on semen quality. It has also been found that foods particularly rich in antioxidants help improve sperm health, especially foods rich in Vitamin C and E which are known for their antioxidant qualities.
Create fun rituals with friends and colleagues
Exercising on a regular basis and eating healthily has the potential to be much more fun if you are doing it with friends and/or colleagues. Consider setting up a steps challenge to see who can get the most steps in that week or share your new healthy recipes. If you are thinking about training for a 10km run, see if there is anyone else who would like to get on board the training train. Staying as socially active as you can during this time will help to stay motivated.
The pandemic has brought numerous challenges. It may feel difficult to stay upbeat during the uncertainty of what is going to happen next. It is totally understandable if you are not feeling your best. If you haven’t been feeling your best, talk to someone you trust. If low mood persists, then it might be time to talk to a professional and come up with a plan for how you can look after your mood. While it is normal for our mood to fluctuate from time to time, the likelihood of a successful pregnancy is reduced if the male partner has severe depression. On top of that, a low mood or depression may cause reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, or delayed ejaculation, all of which may reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
Prioritise good sleep
Getting a good night sleep is important for almost every aspect of your health. A 2017 NCBI study has shown that sleep deprivation and a late bed time may affect your sperm health. A lack of sleep may also impact your mood and sexual function. Aim to get eight hours of sleep every night to look after both your physical and mental health.
Don’t overindulge with alcohol
Don’t overindulge when it comes to alcohol. According to Mayo Clinic, drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels, cause erectile dysfunction and decrease sperm production. Liver disease caused by excessive drinking also may lead to fertility problems. While there may be a temptation to have just one more drink while you are watching television at home, or you’re finally back out in the bars, try your best to not surpass the recommended weekly number of drinks. The Department of Health recommends that both men and women have no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks per day.
Stick with it
It’s understandable that you may be feeling less motivated to keep up your usual healthy habits. It is after all, a very strange time for everyone, and there is no correct response in how you should be feeling or acting during this time, but do know that every little healthy change that you make now will make a big impact down the line on your health, including your sexual and reproductive health.
How does your weight impact your sexual function and fertility?