It's not just women who need to make changes to get ready for conception – men need to prepare to get their sperm in tip-top shape too.

Give up smoking

Studies have shown that the partners of men who smoke have a reduced chance of conceiving. Also, a dad who smokes can adversely affect the health of his baby before and after the birth – his child has an increased risk of respiratory problems and SIDS, so it’s worth him quitting now.

Drink less booze

According to Dr Kelton Tremellen, deputy medical director at IVF clinic Repromed and creator of the new men’s fertility-boosting vitamin Menevit, men who are hoping to conceive a baby should avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, as heavy drinking may affect sperm quality and make pregnancy less likely. Unlike women, who are recommended not to drink at all, Dr Tremellen says “about two drinks a day are okay” for blokes.

Keep cool

Sperm are made at slightly below body temperature, so Dr Tremellen says it’s important men avoid excessive heat: “Long, hot baths aren’t a good idea – neither is sitting in a sauna or spa – but showers are fine”.

Wearing really tight jeans isn’t ideal, and a man shouldn’t sit a laptop on his lap for hours on end.

Cut the coffee

While the caffeine in coffee has the ability to boost sperm motility, Dr Tremellen says recent research has shown that consuming more than 300mg of caffeine a day (about three cups of regular coffee) can produce a small increase in sperm DNA damage. But when caffeine consumption is combined with smoking and alcohol, sperm quality decreases dramatically.

Lose the fat

Dads-to-be also need to keep an eye on their weight. “If you’re overweight, the fat encases the scrotal area and heats up the testicles, and that can cause problems,” says Dr Tremellen.

“The testes are out there for a good reason, to keep them cooler – not for aesthetics!”

But while your partner should exercise regularly, he shouldn’t go overboard. It has been shown that excessive exercise, particularly bike riding, can negatively affect the DNA quality of sperm.

Boost vitamins

Men trying to conceive should have adequate zinc intake. Several studies show that even short-term zinc deficiencies can reduce testosterone levels and semen volume. Menevit, a vitamin supplement Dr Tremellen created for men trying to conceive, has been shown to improve the DNA quality of sperm.

“The antioxidants in Menevit deal with free radicals and reduce their attack on sperm and increase DNA quality,” he explains.

Avoid toxins

According to Dr Tremellen, environmental pollutants, such as spray paints and diesel fumes, have been shown to cause DNA damage to a man’s sperm. If possible, men should avoid exposure to these types of fumes. In other words, now is not the best time to repaint the house!