Now is a good time to start getting ready for fatherhood— even if it’s still a few years away.
Did you know that your health is as important to your baby as it is to your partner? If you have an STI (sexually transmitted infection), you could infect her and make it harder to get pregnant. If you’re around dangerous chemicals or smoke, your partner breathes these in, too. These toxins can cause birth defects. Take care of yourself so your family stays healthy.
You are valuable to your family. So, keep yourself healthy, mentally fit and emotionally supported. Here are some tips on how you can keep yourself, your partner and your future baby healthy.
- Stronger heart, muscles and bones
- Less stress
- Better sleep
- More energy
- More energy
- Healthier weight
- Fewer illnesses
Find a medical home. Don’t wait to get until something is wrong. It’s important for you, like all men, to get a yearly checkup and discuss with your clinician any health problems you might be having.
If you have a family history of high blood pressure, cancer or diabetes, it’s important to let your clinician know and be aware of warning signs. Developing a medical home — a trusted clinician you access for regular primary care — is important in getting ready for children in the future.
Get checked for STIs. Even if you don’t have symptoms and feel fine, it’s important that you get checked for STIs. You can still pass on infections to your partner. And that can hurt a developing baby.
Remember men are much less likely to show signs of infection than women. If you don’t think you’re infected, you won’t know you’re passing something on to your partner, and untreated STIs in women can be very dangerous for the pregnancy.
Learn more about the different types of STIs and how to avoid getting them.
Get all the facts about testosterone replacement. Ads for medications to replace testosterone are everywhere. Many of these medications have not been approved by the FDA and may be harmful, particularly if you already have problems with high blood pressure.
According to the FDA, testosterone replacement therapy can increase men’s risk of heart attack by 30 percent. If you feel you need these types of medications based on what you have heard about them, discuss your signs and symptoms with your clinician. Many of the symptoms that advertisers tell you are from low testosterone may actually be signs of other treatable conditions that need attention.
Develop a Life Plan. Life planning isn’t only for women. Men can also benefit from looking at their life choices and deciding when the time is right to start a family. Doing so can put your current lifestyle in perspective and give you incentive to make positive behavioral changes. The Life Planning Tool has one or two questions specifically for your partner, but it can be a good tool to take note of where you are now versus where you want to be.
Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs. Using tobacco, drugs and alcohol can cause serious health problems for you and any children you may have one day. Some things you should know:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco can lower your sperm count and make it more difficult to get an erection.
- Using steroids or marijuana or drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day can cause abnormal sperm and lower your testosterone level which can lead to lower sex drive, smaller testicles and increased male breast size.
Eat right. Texas’ highways and byways are like a giant fast food buffet. Something quick and easy to eat is always right around the corner. But those fast food fixes probably don’t satisfy you. The high salt and carbohydrate content will make you feel stuffed for a while, but you’ll be hungry soon after. High-fat diets also have been shown to affect mood.
Lean protein, vegetables and fruits should be at the center of your diet. Look for healthier options that will fill you up and give you energy. Think about the following when you’re making meal choices:
- Grains: These are foods made with wheat, oats, rice, etc. Try to make at least half of your servings “whole grain.” Grain foods are a major source of iron and fiber.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Eat plenty of them — especially dark-green, red and orange fruits and veggies. Eating plenty of fiber like peas and beans will help you feel full. Plus, it’s good for your heart.
- Milk, yogurt and cheese: These can be part of a healthy diet, but switch to fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat versions.
- Meat: Limit your red meats, but maintain your protein intake. Look for lean, low-sodium choices when possible; baked chicken, lean beef and turkey are great ways to get the nutrients you need.
- Seafood: Increase your seafood consumption and try eating fish, shrimp and other shellfish at least twice a week.
- Soda and Alcohol: Try to limit your soda and alcohol consumption as both have high amounts of sugar, empty calories and dehydrate the body.
- Water: It flushes the bad stuff out your system, increases energy and boosts your immune system.
Create a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan with the USDA’s SuperTracker.
If you want to become a father someday, it’s a good idea to start tracking your health history. You will be able to update any medical conditions in real time and share with your healthcare provider and your partner. Begin creating a Family Health Portrait here.
No amount of alcohol is safe for your partner to consume during her pregnancy. Learn the myths and facts about alcohol during pregnancy and the long-term effects it could have on your child.
Whether you’re considering having kids a few months from now or a few years, you need to recognize certain chemicals and conditions in your home or workplace that can jeopardize your reproductive health.
- Radiation or chemicals at work
- Extremely hot environments
- Organic solvents used for hobbies like refinishing furniture, repairing cars, painting and building models
- Lead or heavy metals used for hobbies like pottery, cleaning guns and in industrial workplaces
- Metals, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals that may be found in workplaces
Create a comfortable environment. Take a look around your home. Is it an environment you want to raise your kids in? If not, what do you need to change to make it a place you want to raise kids? Too often, men don’t realize the need for change until it’s too late. The responsibility of supporting your family might be on your shoulders. Add to that a changing job market, the threat of violence, a long commute or issues with your home and the stress can be too much.
Having kids can be stressful enough. Start thinking about how you will manage your stress, so these challenges don’t overwhelm you when you decide it’s time to have kids.
Violence between partners. Healthy relationships are built on respect, open communication and the freedom to be comfortable, happy and honest. If you’re having trouble managing your temper or have been in an abusive relationship in the past, you can get help to keep the cycle from repeating itself.
Intimate partner violence is preventable. Get more information and help on this issue from the CDC.
Get a more extensive list on household chemicals to avoid from The March of Dimes.
Taking care of your mind is an important step in taking care of your body.
- Deal with the stress directly and move on.
- Take deep, slow breaths when you feel stress coming on.
- Try to get about eight hours of sleep every night.
- Try to laugh by watching a funny web video or TV show.
- Sweat it out with a solid workout or run.
- Talk to someone you trust.
Recognize when it’s something more. Sometimes normal stress turns into more serious issues. Depression and anxiety may require professional help. Men don’t like to ask for help, but doing so is a sign of strength. You recognize you are having a problem and you want to do something about it.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your situation so you can get the help you need. You can also call the National Lifeline for Support at (800) 273-TALK (8255).
The Texas Department of State Health Services provides useful information on mental health and how to get help.
The National Institute of Mental Health outlines these signs and symptoms of depression in men.
Understand the issues of male depression with help from The Mayo Clinic.