How to Increase Sperm Count & Boost Male Fertility

Infertility affects approximately one in six or 15% of couples trying to conceive, with male infertility contributing to roughly half of these cases. When diving into the intricacies of male fertility, one often hears the term 'sperm health'. But what does that encompass?

What determines Sperm Health?

Three main factors are required from sperm for a successful pregnancy:

Quantity (Concentration): Optimal fertility requires semen to contain at least 15 million sperm per milliliter. Lower counts reduce the chances of conception due to fewer sperm available to fertilize the egg.

Movement (Motility): Sperm mobility is crucial for navigating the female reproductive system. Your total motile (TOMO count) is the total number of sperm cells swimming in a straight line; less than 20 million per milliliter is considered low. While pregnancy can occur with less than 40% of motile sperm in an ejaculation, having 40% or more is ideal for increased chances of fertilization.

Structure (Morphology): Healthy sperm typically have an oval head and a long tail, aiding in propulsion. However, morphology is less critical than sperm quantity and movement when assessing fertility.

A sperm analysis can provide a comprehensive evaluation of these three parameters and give insight into a man's fertility potential.

Causes of Male Infertility

Male infertility can be caused by a host of issues from sexual function to medical conditions to environmental factors.

  • Brain Gland Dysfunctions: The hypothalamus and pituitary gland, vital components in the brain, are responsible for releasing hormones. A malfunction in these glands can lead to secondary hypogonadism, a medical condition signifying an insufficient production of testosterone, the pivotal male sex hormone. Low testosterone levels can adversely impact sperm production and other male reproductive functions.
  • Testicular Diseases: Multiple diseases can target the testicles, which are the primary sites for sperm production. When affected, these diseases can either reduce the number of sperm produced or impair their functionality, making fertilization challenging.
  • Sperm Transport Disorders: These are conditions where the pathways that allow sperm to travel from the testicles to the urethra are blocked or malfunctioning. This can hinder sperm from effectively reaching the egg during intercourse.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: Specific health conditions, such as celiac disease, have been known to have detrimental effects on male fertility.
  • Medications: A variety of medications, spanning from calcium channel blockers to certain antidepressants, can negatively affect male fertility. It's crucial to discuss with healthcare providers about any potential risks associated with long-term medication use.
  • Lubricants During Intimacy: Preliminary research suggests some lubricants might hamper sperm mobility.
  • Harmful Toxins: Regular exposure to toxins, such as pesticides, heavy metals like lead, and certain industrial chemicals like bispehnol-A (BPA), can degrade sperm quality. When working in environments with these toxins, employing safety measures like using protective equipment and ensuring minimal skin contact is essential.
  • Scrotal Temperature: Excess heat around the scrotal region can be detrimental to sperm production. Adopting habits like wearing breathable underwear, reducing prolonged sitting, steering clear of overly warm environments like saunas and hot tubs, and ensuring minimal direct contact of the scrotum with heat sources, like laptops, can potentially boost sperm quality.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections: STI's such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility in men. Moreover, many STIs can often be asymptomatic, which means that you might have an infection without showing any noticeable symptoms. Left untreated, these infections can lead to more severe health complications and put both you and your partner at risk. Regular testing is essential, especially if you're sexually active with multiple partners or engage in unprotected sex.
  • Age: As men age, natural changes occur. Particularly after the age of 50, there's a noticeable decline in the mobility of sperm and the overall sperm count, which can influence fertility

How to produce healthy sperm & boost fertility?

Below are some supplements and dietary changes focused on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle that one can make to boost fertility:

  • D-Aspartic Acid Supplements (D-AA): D-Aspartic Acid is an amino acid found in certain glands, including the testes. It has the potential to raise testosterone and fertility levels, especially in those with decreased testosterone. Some studies suggest a potential increase in sperm count and motility by up to 60%.
  • Vitamin C: Known for its immune support, Vitamin C also combats oxidative stress, protecting cells from possible harm. High amounts of Vitamin C are found in the fluid that carries sperm. When you consume more Vitamin C, the amount in this fluid increases, which can help prevent DNA damage. There's evidence suggesting a correlation between Vitamin C supplementation and improved sperm quality, indicating potential fertility benefits.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can reduce the production of harmful reactive oxygen species, usually as a result of environmental factors.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D may support testosterone levels and has been linked to sperm motility and vitality. Maintaining appropriate Vitamin D levels is essential for optimal fertility benefits.
  • L-Carnitine: L-Carnitine has been found to improve both sperm movement and sperm count as well as enhanced the ability to fight off harmful substances.
  • Tribulus Terrestris: Recognized as a medicinal herb, Tribulus Terrestris might support libido and erectile function. Although it doesn't directly increase testosterone, it may enhance its effects, especially regarding libido.
  • Fenugreek Supplements: Fenugreek has various potential benefits, including raising testosterone levels and enhancing libido. Its extract form appears to be more effective than its whole form.
  • Zinc: Essential for male fertility, zinc plays a crucial role in supporting testosterone levels and sperm quality. Maintaining adequate zinc levels is vital for optimal male reproductive health.
  • Selenium: Selenium is an essential mineral that is involved in producing sperm and testosterone. Supplementation have been shown to improve sperm counts, concentration, motility, and morphology in infertile men. These results were even more pronounced when combined with N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC).
  • Ashwagandha: A traditional Indian herb, Ashwagandha might elevate testosterone levels and improve sperm quality. Some studies indicate its potential to enhance muscle mass and strength.
  • Maca Root: Maca Root has associations with increased libido, fertility, and sexual performance. Some research connects it with enhanced sexual desire and sperm count, but it doesn't necessarily regulate hormone levels.
  • Coenzyme Q10: Initial studies suggest that supplementation may result in an increase in sperm count by roughly 17% and motility by over 50%.
  • Fish: Medical literature suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish might boost sperm count and vitality.
  • Walnuts: Due to their antioxidant properties, walnuts may enhance sperm count. One study linked the daily intake of 18 walnuts to an increase in sperm count over 12 weeks.
  • Folate: Insufficient folate intake might adversely affect semen quality, compromising reproductive function.

...and as usual:

  • Healthy Weight & Regular Exercise: Maintaining a healthy weight and regular physical activity can promote increased testosterone levels and better fertility. Increasing body mass index (BMI) have been linked to decreased sperm count and movement whereas men who exercise regularly tend to have higher testosterone and better semen quality than those who don't.
  • Adequate Sleep: Prioritizing sleep is essential for overall well-being and maintaining optimal semen quality.
  • Stress Management: Persistent stress and the consequent rise in cortisol can negatively affect testosterone and fertility. Techniques such as meditation, casual walks, and social interactions can alleviate stress and potentially promote fertility by regulating cortisol levels.
  • Fruits & Veggies: In a clinical study involving 250 male participants undergoing semen analysis at a fertility center, it was observed that individuals with a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, and legumes demonstrated enhanced sperm concentration and improved sperm motility in comparison to those with a lower intake of these food items.

What to Avoid

While supplementation and a healthy lifestyle may boost fertility factors, it's equally important to mitigate damaging factors:

  • Tobacco: Smoking cigarettes has been consistently linked with a decrease in sperm counts. For those aiming to boost fertility, quitting smoking, with the assistance of healthcare professionals, is highly recommended.
  • Alcohol: Regular and heavy drinking can significantly reduce testosterone levels, leading to reduced sperm production and potential impotence. It's recommended to consume alcohol judiciously: one drink daily for women and up to two for men.
  • Soy: Soy products are rich in phytoestrogen, a compound similar to to the hormone estrogen, such as isoflavones which have been associated with lower semen quality
  • Dairy: The exact reason why the consumption of high-fat dairy products may be associated with a decreased sperm count remains not fully understood. One hypothesis suggests it might be related to the steroids administered to cows.
  • Processed Meat: Consumption of processed meats, including hot dogs and salami, has been linked to a decrease in sperm count.
  • Trans Fat: Foods containing trans fats have not only been associated with heart disease but also with reduced sperm count in some studies.

When to see a doctor?

Adopting health-focused habits can positively influence fertility, and it's equally important to avoid behaviors that might harm it. Engaging in such beneficial habits can increase the chances of achieving a successful pregnancy.

If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for a year through regular, unprotected intercourse without success, it's recommended to consider an assessment for potential fertility issues. Meeting with a fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist can help identify any underlying challenges and suggest suitable treatments to increase the chances of conception. Furthermore, you may want to consider seeking advice sooner if you experience:

  • Issues related to sexual function.
  • Discomfort or swelling in the groin area.
  • Detectable lumps in the groin or testicles.
  • A history of reproductive problems.
  • Recent procedures involving reproductive organs.

Depending on the cause of compromised sperm quality, your healthcare provider might recommend:

  • Surgery to address blockages in ejaculatory ducts.
  • Medications to treat erectile dysfunction.
  • Counseling to address sexual concerns.
  • Hormonal treatments for endocrine imbalances.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider for personal health concerns.