10 ways to improve male fertility and increase sperm count
One of the biggest factors in male fertility is sperm health. Given that one in seven couples experiences infertility and of those, about half are related to male infertility, it makes sense to look at ways to boost male fertility. So what can a man do to increase fertility and how can you make sperm stronger for pregnancy? In this post we’ll go over the reasons for male infertility as well as some of the ways you can give it a boost. We’ll cover everything from how to make sperm stronger for pregnancy to how to produce more sperm so you can boost male fertility.
What are male infertility reasons?
Male fertility has declined 50% in the past 40 years and the trend is rising. Many men do not recognize infertility signs and symptoms unless they’re checked for a medical issue or have been unable to fertilize an egg. Infertility is commonly thought of as a challenge women face but learning more about the causes of male fertility problems can help couples trying to conceive.
The causes of male infertility can vary, but one of the first things to consider is sperm quality. Since one of the biggest factors in male fertility is sperm health, sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm structure are all important factors.
Infertility can also stem from other factors like hormone imbalances or illness. For instance, lower testosterone levels result in lower sperm production, erectile dysfunction, abnormal sperm, and a lower sex drive. Hormones can also be affected by certain medications including chemotherapy medications and anabolic steroid use.
Immune disorders can accidentally target healthy sperm while certain cancers and tumors affect the tissues and organs of the male reproductive tract. Sexually transmitted infections are also one of the leading causes of infertility in the world. Other causes like undescended testicles are more rare but still a factor for male infertility.
A semen analysis can help evaluate sperm and determine whether you have sperm quality issues. Clinical testing can be ordered by your doctor or you can use a home testing kit. Home kits remove some of the traditional barriers to testing and you can always share the results with your doctor. At-home testing kits like this one (available in US, CA, and AU) or this one (available in UK and EU) can get you started and can be an important step to help you on your road to conceiving.
Many factors contribute to your fertility level including timing, age, lifestyle, and stress. It’s not out of your hands though and there are things you can do to boost male fertility. Here are 10 science-proven methods of increasing male fertility and boosting sperm count.
Regular exercise is one of the best things a man can do to increase fertility. Not only does it improve overall health and help regulate weight, but it can also help regulate hormones. Research shows that losing fat helps lower the amount of testosterone converting to estrogen and men who exercise regularly have better semen quality than those who don’t.
Not only does regular exercise help boost male fertility, but it also has benefits for the heart, brain, muscles, and your mental health. Overdoing it can be detrimental but staying physically active can definitely give your sperm a boost.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
Heavy alcohol consumption has negative effects on overall health including sperm. Too many drinks can lead to lower testosterone levels and affect sperm count. According to the CDC, up to two drinks per day is moderate consumption for men and hasn’t been shown to have negative effects.
Male fertility can also be affected by taking drugs, illicit or otherwise. Drugs like cannabis, cocaine, and heroin reduce testosterone levels and sex drive. Not to mention that some prescription medications can have unintended side effects like fertility issues. Drugs and alcohol may have other short or long term health effects but the research is clear that they can negatively impact fertility.
Smoking and tobacco use are linked to a host of health conditions, including issues with fertility. The negative impacts on sperm production and movement are well documented with cigarette smoking in particular being associated with reduced sperm count and motility. The chemicals in cigarettes can also seriously damage the DNA within the sperm cells and lead to decreased fertility. Your sperm can recover though and become healthier in just a few months if you stop smoking.
Enough vitamin D
Getting adequate levels of vitamin D is important for many biological functions but it can also help with fertility. Studies link low levels of this vitamin with poor sperm quality, especially motility, and that these men are more likely to experience fertility issues. The best way to keep your levels up is to get out in the sun, but that can be a challenge depending on where you live. Supplementation can help improve the health of your sperm.
This medicinal herb native to India has been used for thousands of years and has been found to have some effect on semen quality. Not only does it improve sperm count and motility, but it may also help regulate hormone levels.
Increase healthful and reduce unhealthful fat intake
Your diet can play a huge role in your fertility and what you eat matters. Boosting your diet with sperm friendly nutrients and healthful fats while reducing unhealthful fat intake will not only be good for your overall health but your sperm as well. Omega-3 (healthful fat) is one of the most important nutrients for sperm health. These fats have a wide range of benefits and their impact on fertility has been widely studied. It’s always best to give your Omega-3 levels a boost with your diet and can be found in several foods, but supplementation is also ok.
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Folate and Zinc
We often think of folate as a supplement for pregnant people but it’s an important B vitamin related to fertility for men too. Low levels have been shown to be related to DNA damage in sperm and lower sperm counts. It can be found in many fortified and enriched products like flour, pasta, and cereal. Non-fortified sources include leafy greens, citrus fruits, legumes and nuts, and whole grains.
Low zinc levels have also been shown to be a risk factor for low sperm quality. For men, the daily recommended dietary allowance is 11 mg per day. Dietary sources include oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, and fortified products.
Less estrogen-low food
Foods that contain phytoestrogens (estrogen-like compounds from plants) may decrease sperm concentration according to a study of men from an infertility clinic. Estrogen plays a key role in men’s sexual health but too much can be a problem. More research is needed in the area but eating foods high in phytoestrogens can harm sperm function. Many recommendations for foods that support hormone balance are derived from the Mediterranean Diet. Research has shown positive effects on fertility when following the principles of a Mediterranean Diet.
Prioritize sleep and lead a healthy lifestyle
Many lifestyle factors can impact your fertility including sperm production. Leading a healthy lifestyle by eating the proper nutrients, keeping stress levels under control, and maintaining a healthy weight can all boost male fertility. Sperm health is essential for conception and multiple studies have shown the importance of sleep when it comes to fertility. Quality rest and adequate sleep aren’t just vital for your overall health, some research has even found a link between sleep duration and semen quality. Fertility depends on a number of factors but many lifestyle choices are well within your control and are things a man can do to increase his fertility.
Any other suitable ways
Sperm health and male fertility are affected by many factors. And while male infertility may not always be treatable, as you can see there are many things a man can do to increase their fertility. What works for you will depend on your fertility issues but a semen analysis can be a good starting point to evaluate sperm health.
Common sperm killers include heat, obesity, and varicocele (a varicose vein in the scrotum) and environmental toxins. In general, anything that’s bad for your overall health is bad for your sperm so avoid situations that can damage your sperm – like sitting in a hot tub! Exposure to high heat, like hot tubs or hot baths, can lead to a temporary decrease in sperm count. If you are using lubricant, fertility-friendly lubricants have been specifically vetted for their lack of negative impact on sperm. The wrong lubricant can make sperm less motile.
Even though you only need one sperm to fertilize an egg, the more healthy swimmers you have the more likely your chances of success. If the results of a semen analysis indicate that the concentration of sperm in your semen is low, fertility supplements may help to increase your sperm count.
Medical treatment – when you may need it?
With regular unprotected sex, most couples get pregnant within six months to a year. Your fertility can depend on a number of factors though including age, health, and medical history. If you are under 35 and have been trying for nearly a year, doing all the right things, it may be time to see your doctor or seek help from a fertility specialist. If you’re over 35 you should seek help after six months of trying.
Since 30-50% of issues couples face with infertility are due to male factors, it’s important to pay attention to the signs of infertility in men and speak to your doctor if necessary. They will recommend tests, including semen analysis, to narrow down what the causes of infertility may be. They will also recommend possible therapies and lifestyle changes to increase your chances of natural conception.
Overall the best way to improve sperm health is by living a healthy lifestyle. To make sperm stronger for pregnancy, get regular exercise, follow a healthy diet, get plenty of rest, don’t smoke, and reduce stress when possible. Sperm health can be affected by a number of factors and although infertility is not always treatable, it can be improved with many lifestyle changes to boost male fertility.
If you and your partner are having issues conceiving it is best to speak to your doctor. They will recommend tests, including semen analysis, to narrow down what the causes of infertility may be. They will also recommend possible therapies and lifestyle changes to increase your chances of natural conception.