There comes a time in almost everybody's life where they decide to settle down with someone they love and start a family together. It's a pretty huge decision to make as you're essentially accepting that you're prepared for your life to change beyond all recognition.
That means no more drunken nights out, plenty more daily diaper changing duties, and, well, just a lot less freedom. It goes without saying but the decision to conceive with a partner is not one that should be taken lightly.
But once you have decided that now is the right time to have kids, it's very easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of it all.
The truth is though, getting pregnant can take longer than most people realize. So if a partner is not getting pregnant straight away, it's best not to worry about it too much. In fact, it can even take as long as a few years for some couples to get pregnant. It's just the way it goes sometimes.
Of course, if a partner hasn't conceived after a year of regular sex and no contraception, this is most likely due to fertility problems. And if you've gone to the doctor and found out the reason you aren't conceiving is indeed due to fertility problems, it can feel incredibly disheartening.
However, it's important to keep in mind that not being able to conceive naturally doesn't define you or your worth as a person. Plus there are plenty of other options as far as starting a family is concerned, one being adoption.
If you are, however, concerned about your sperm count, then there a number of factors you should be taking into account as you go about your day-to-day life.
In order to protect your little swimmers, you should try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, refrain from taking recreational drugs and from smoking, and lose any excess weight through regular exercise.
I mean, this tends to be the standard advice given to those who are concerned about the potency of their sperm. But there are far more surprising factors that can play a substantial role in the quality of your sperm. Did you know, for instance, that drinking beer could potentially do wonders for your little guys?
It's true! A recent study conducted by a group of researchers at the Policlinico hospital's fertility clinic in Milan, Italy discovered that men who drink beer produce more sperm.
As part of the study, 323 male patients with varying weekly alcohol intakes were called upon to take part.
Thirty percent of the participants were said to have one to three drinks a week, 30 percent were said to have four to seven drinks a week and another 30 percent were said to have eight or more drinks a week.
The men in the two groups that consumed a larger weekly amount of alcohol had a "significantly higher sperm concentration" than those who had one to three weekly drinks.
In addition, the men who had four to seven weekly drinks were reported as having a "significantly higher median semen volume" - in other words, just a lot more semen - than those who had one to three drinks a week.
Also included in the study were 39 men who were said to drink 14 or more drinks a week, "but no statistically or clinically significant association was observed."
So why exactly does beer appear to be good for human sperm? Well, it seems that a particular compound in beer hops known as Xanthohumol protects sperm cells from damage. We also know that antioxidants found in grapes and wine protect sperm cells in a similar way.
However, before you aspiring fathers go hitting the bottle, it's important to know that this new information only applies if your alcohol intake is moderate.
According to Professor Allan Pacey, from the University of Sheffield, "It’s okay to have a glass of beer or wine with dinner but if you are trying for a baby, a night on the lash should be avoided." (That's weird, it worked for loads of girls I went to high school with...)
"I would not use alcohol as a means to try to boost a low sperm count," Professor Simon Fishel, from CARE Fertility added.
Anyway, the point is drinking a moderate amount of alcohol every week might just improve the quality and quantity of your sperm.