Mary Samplaski, MD, assistant professor of clinical urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and expert fertility specialist at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, answers a few common questions about male infertility.

male infertility graphicQ: How long should a couple try to conceive before seeking help from a specialist or being tested?

Couples should seek medical attention from a fertility specialist after a year of unprotected intercourse. If the female partner is older than 35 years, or there are concerns in either partner, it may be wise to be evaluated after 6 months of trying.

Q: What can I do to improve our chances of conception?

  • Quit smoking. Men who smoke cigarettes have lower sperm counts — which applies to both cigarettes and marijuana. It takes smokers longer to conceive and smoking (even secondhand smoke) may lead to genetic abnormalities.
  • Lose weight. Overweight and obese men have worse sperm quality compared with men of healthy weight.
  • Don’t use testosterone supplements. Testosterone supplementation will shut down sperm production.

Q: Is my cell phone a culprit? What about hot tubs?

  • The role of cell phones in male infertility is still being determined. Existing studies have demonstrated conflicting results, but some have found a decrease in sperm motility after exposure to cell phone radiation. However, these negative effects were negated by taking a multivitamin.
  • Hot tubs and saunas are well known to be harmful to sperm. The purpose of the testicles being outside of the body is for them to be slightly cooler, which promotes sperm production.

Watch Dr. Samplaski answer all your male fertility questions on our Facebook Live interview.