No matter where you are on your path to fatherhood, we recommend getting your fertility health checked by a medical professional. This checklist will help you get ready for your visit.
You’re ready to be a dad, and you’re going to be much more than just the guy that drives his wife to the hospital. That’s great news for your future family, because research confirms that a father’s dedicated involvement during preconception and pregnancy paves the way for the happiest and healthiest life possible for his partner and child.
“The amount and quality of time as well as level of involvement during pregnancy predicts how well equipped and involved the father will be after birth,” writes M. Jermane Bond, PhD, in his overview of the link between paternal involvement in preconception and pregnancy, and family health outcomes.
Unfortunately, men are often excluded from preconception healthcare due to a bias toward women’s fertility concerns, time constraints, perceived high cost, and a lack of clarity about the role of a dad-to-be. Male factors are also often overlooked by healthcare providers when couples seek care for infertility, despite the stats showing that up to half of all infertility cases involve male factors.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Men’s healthcare, Bond writes, can routinely “include the basic components of preconception health, [such as] risk assessment, health promotion, clinical and psychosocial interventions.” Healthcare during preconception has a measurably positive effect on a man’s relationship with his partner, his approach to fathering, his self-esteem and continued good health.
Men can, and should, seek fertility healthcare during the preconception period, the two to three months after they’ve decided to conceive a child before officially beginning to try. That’s about the length of time it takes for sperm to reach maturity. Sperm maturation is a crucial period during which epigenetic information about a father’s current well-being gets transmitted to his offspring, influencing how his child develops. This two to three month window is the perfect time for future fathers to invest in self-care to communicate the strongest legacy possible.
Preventative fertility care can also help men spot and address fertility issues before they cause more trouble. And couples experiencing infertility (defined as trying to conceive without success for a year or more) should proactively ask for testing that investigates potential male infertility factors, even if their primary healthcare provider doesn’t bring it up.
We consulted recommendations from the CDC and American Pregnancy Association to create this checklist to help you prepare for your fertility checkup, whether you’ve just started thinking about trying for a baby or are seeking answers about infertility.
Fertility Healthcare Visit Checklist for Men
Make the most of your fertility healthcare visit with this list from Beli Men’s Fertility Support Multivitamin
1. Schedule a fertility wellness exam with a urologist. Explain that you are planning to try to conceive and would like a preconception wellness exam. If you’ve already been trying to conceive for a while but have not been successful, be sure to ask for your visit to include a sperm analysis,as well as any other tests your urologist recommend.2. Before your visit, write down notes about your:
- Past surgeries
- Health conditions
- History of health conditions in family members
- Medications you take
- Lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and stress
- Vices, including smoking and drinking alcohol
- Sex life
- Work environment
- How long you’ve been trying to get pregnant, if applicable
- Your previous history of parenthood, if any
- Your questions about men’s fertility, support for pregnancy, or anything else you wonder about.
By coming prepared with the information above, you’ll get the most out of your visit.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
The doctor will give you a physical examination and talk with you about your fertility health. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year or more without success, ask the urologist to check your sperm. Below are some of the tests urologists use to check different aspects of male fertility. If you’re questioning something regarding your fertility, it’s always OK to ask for the test to learn more information. Good testing gives you and your doctor a thorough picture of your fertility and helps inform decisions about treatment.
This is the first-line test where your urologist will examine your body to check for physical fertility issues, such as varicocele (an enlarged vein that can block your sperm from ejaculation) and suspected hormonal issues.
Sperm and Semen Analysis
Your fresh semen sample is analyzed to determine sperm count, morphology (sperm shape), and motility (how well they move). Because sperm count can fluctuate, sometimes doctors request a few collections over time to look at your overall fertility health.
Hormones are chemical signals that control your biological processes. Your doctor may recommend blood work to check your levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone (T), as these affect your sperm production, your sex drive, and your ability to have sex. If it is indicated based on your symptoms, some doctors also check for luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol, and prolactin.
Genetic tests are a deep-dive where researchers look for chromosomal issues and DNA fragmentation in sperm.
This biopsy involves a testicular sample taken with a needle or through incision. It can show whether healthy sperm is being made in the testes.
If indicated by these screenings, your doctor may order additional tests and imaging, or recommend a course of treatment to support your fertility health.