Planning a pregnancy - for dads and partners
If you and your partner have decided to have a baby, you may be wondering how to improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. We have information about how some lifestyle changes can help.
Planning for pregnancy for men
About 4 out of 5 couples will get pregnant within a year of having regular, unprotected sex. But what can you do to improve your chances? Here are some things you could try:
- Have sex 2 or 3 times a week, especially when your partner is ovulating ‒ this is usually 12 to 16 days before their period starts.
- Keep your testicles (balls) cooler than the rest of your body ‒ for example, by avoiding hot showers or baths, wearing loose underwear and avoiding cycling or sitting down for long periods.
- Lose weight if you have a high BMI.
- Quit smoking.
- Drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread over 3 or 4 days.
- Avoid recreational drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine or anabolic steroids.
- Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you’re taking any medicines and you’re worried they may be affecting your fertility.
- Get tested for STIs if you think you’re at risk of having one.
- Speak to your GP if there are any genetic conditions in your family, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease – they can help you understand how these may affect your baby.
We have more information about ways to improve male fertility.
If you’re feeling under pressure to get your partner pregnant, or you’re feeling stressed for other reasons, you might be finding it hard to relax. Stress can affect your relationship with your partner and you may not feel like having sex.
There are things you can do to help lower your stress levels, such as making time for yourself and talking to friends or family. You could also try relaxation techniques. The NHS has a guide to breathing exercises for stress. Your GP can help by suggesting ways of reducing stress or referring you for counselling.
Read answers to questions from dads-to-be about getting pregnant.
Fertility is the ability to get someone pregnant or get pregnant. If you and your partner are having problems getting pregnant, your GP can give you advice. Treatment will depend on what’s causing your fertility problems.
When to see your GP
It takes some people longer than others to get pregnant. But if you’ve been trying for over a year, it’s a good idea to see your GP. If the parent who’ll be carrying the baby is over the age of 36, or if either of you know you have fertility problems, then see your GP sooner than this.
The GP will ask you about your lifestyle, health and how long you’ve been trying. They may also do some tests and examine you.
They can suggest ways to improve your fertility or they may refer you for fertility treatment.
You may be thinking about having fertility treatment if:
- you or your partner have fertility problems
- you’re using stored eggs, sperm, embryos or reproductive tissue
- you’re using surrogacy
- you’re using donated eggs, sperm or embryos.
Read more about fertility treatment.
Surrogacy involves a woman or birthing person, who is not your partner, carrying and giving birth to your baby. There are several possible reasons why you might want to use a surrogate. For example, if your partner is not able to carry a baby, you’re single or you’re a man in a same-sex relationship.
This involves using eggs, sperm or embryos from a donor. You may be thinking about this, for example, if you or your partner are not able to use your own sperm or eggs. Or you may be single or in a same-sex relationship.
More support and information
Donor Conception Network offers information, support and community to donor conception families and prospective families.
Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority has information about:
• Donor conception
LGBT Mummies has information about the different routes to parenthood.
NICE (2018) Infertility. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/infertility/
NHS. How can I improve my chances of becoming a dad? https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/mens-health/how-can-i-improve-my-chances-of-becoming-a-dad/ (Page last reviewed: 15 May 2020. Next review due: 15 May 2023)
NHS. Trying to get pregnant https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/trying-for-a-baby/trying-to-get-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 2 December 2020. Next review due: 2 December 2023)
NICE (2021) Pre-conception - advice and management. Clinical Knowledge Summary. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/pre-conception-advice-management/
NHS. Stress. https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/feelings-and-symptoms/stress/ (Page last reviewed: 15 October 2019. Next review due: 15 October 2022)
NICE (2018). Infertility: Scenario: Initial assessment of infertility. Clinical Knowledge Summary. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/infertility/management/initial-assessment/
Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority. Explore fertility treatments. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/ (Page last reviewed: 25 August 2020. Next review due: 25 August 2022)
Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority. Surrogacy. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/surrogacy/ (Page last reviewed: no date. Next review due: 19 November 2023)
Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority. Using donated eggs, sperm or embryos in treatment. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/using-donated-eggs-sperm-or-embryos-in-treatment/ (Page last reviewed: no date. Next review due: 12 November 2023)