More and more couples are finding it difficult to conceive these days. The problem seems to be much more common as compared to a few decades ago. In fact, one in six couples experiences conception problems nowadays. Almost forty percent of these cases are because of male infertility (1). Male fertility has a direct connection with sperm count. But how to increase sperm count?
While modern medicine offers many technical solutions for couples to find it difficult to conceive, natural remedies like a healthy diet, supplements and lifestyle changes can also assist in increasing male fertility and sperm count.
Let us learn more about male infertility, its causes, and alternative remedies to improve it.
What is male infertility?
Infertility is the incapacity to fulfill pregnancy after a reasonable time of sexual intercourse with no contraceptive measures taken (1).
Male infertility happens due to low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Several factors like injuries, illnesses, chronic health conditions and lifestyle choices can cause male infertility.
Causes of male infertility
Here are some of the causes of male infertility:
- Poor sperm motility
- Inadequate sperm production by the testes
- Dilated veins in the scrotum
- Undescended Testes
- Excessive environmental estrogen exposure
- Congenital abnormalities
- Urethral Stricture
- Protein deficiency
- Infectious disease of the epidydimis, testes, seminal vesicles, urethra, prostate, benign prostatic hypertrophy
- Endocrine diseases that affect the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals and the testes.
How to increase sperm count and increase fertility?
Scientists believe stress, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and exposure to heavy metals and toxins are responsible for infertility. A healthy lifestyle and diet can help in improving sperm count and fertility.
The average sperm count is between 120 to 350 million per cubic centimeter. However, a low sperm count is below 40 million per cubic centimeter.
Here are 12 science-backed ways to improve overall sperm health and increase fertility in men.
- Exercise and weight control
- Reduce chemical exposure
- Minimise stress
- Avoid excessive alcohol
- Have vitamin C
- Take vitamin D supplements
- Try fenugreek seed extract supplements
- Take zinc supplements
- Have ashwagandha root extract
- Consume maca root powder
- Use Tribulus Terrestris
- Take D-Aspartic acid
1. Exercise and weight control
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, a healthy diet and regular exercise can enhance fertility by maintaining a healthy weight and reducing stress.
Studies have also shown that men who exercise regularly have higher testosterone levels and better semen quality (2).
According to a study at Justus-Liebig University in Germany, aerobics and resistance exercise training have a favorable effect on male factor infertility (3).
Another recent study discovered that 16-weeks of 50-minute aerobic exercises done three times a week increased sperm volume and concentration in 45 sedentary and obese men (4).
Maintaining healthy weight helps improve fertility in men. You must, however, avoid excessive exercise. Too much exercise can lower sperm count and testosterone levels.
2. Reduce chemical exposure
Chemical exposure can also lead to low sperm count. Xenoestrogen is a man-made chemical compound that mimics the effects of estrogens in the body.
Many plastic products contain xenoestrogens. In men Xenoestrogens ( PCBs, DDT, dioxin, pesticides and industrial pollutants) lead to low sperm count, infertility and andropause (male equivalent of menopause) (5).
Avoid your exposure to xenoestrogens by doing the following:
- Do not cook in the microwave.
- Cook your food in cast iron or glass utensils.
- Do not store food in plastic containers.
- Do not drink hot liquids from Styrofoam cups.
- Do not use skin products that contain parabens, Phenoxyethanol, methyl, ethyl, red dye no. 3, and dioxin.
- Eat food that is free of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers.
3. Minimise stress
Severe emotional stress can interfere with the hormones needed to produce sperm. Stress can also reduce your sexual satisfaction and lead to infertility (6).
Psychological stress is also harmful to the quality of sperm, as it affects its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize an egg.
Stress triggers the release of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, which lower the levels of testosterone and sperm production (9). Meditation and yoga can help lower stress levels.
4. Avoid excessive alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone levels and lower semen quality (10). Alcohol affects the shape of the sperm, which may reduce their ability to fertilize the egg.
According to one study on 1221 Danish young men, even modest alcohol consumption of five units a week has adverse effects on semen quality, though the results are more visible in men who drank more than 25 units of alcohol in a week (11).
So, you must avoid excessive amounts of alcohol to prevent infertility.
5. Have vitamin C
Having vitamin C is highly beneficial for sexual health. According to a University of Texas study, increasing your daily dose of vitamin C can improve sperm quality and sperm count.
Another 2006 study showed that supplementation with 1000 mg vitamin C, taken twice daily, improved sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology (12).
Oxidative stress and high levels of reactive oxygen species can lead to infertility in men. Antioxidants like vitamin C counteract these harmful effects.
According to an observational study on Indian industrial workers, taking 1000 mg of vitamin C, five times a week for three months, can protect against damage caused by ROS in sperm cells.
6. Take vitamin D supplements
According to a randomized controlled trial, men who took 3,000 IU of vitamin D every day for one year, increase their testosterone levels by 25 percent (14).
Another study was done by researchers from The University of Copenhagen, Denmark to study the effect of vitamin D on fertility and virility. The researchers concluded that there is a positive association between blood vitamin D levels and sperm motility.
7. Try fenugreek seed extract supplements
Fenugreek seed extract increases sperm count and sperm motility. It has traditionally been used as a natural remedy to increase sperm count.
According to a 2017 study, when 50 mg of fenugreek seed extract (Furosap) was given to 50 volunteers for 12 weeks, there was a significant increase in their free testosterone levels, sperm morphology and sperm count (15).
Another study showed that taking 600 mg of testofen (a supplement made from fenugreek seed extract) for six weeks improved libido, sexual performance, and strength (16).
So, try fenugreek seed extract to improve your sperm count.
8. Take zinc supplements
Zinc supplements (100 to 200 mg daily) can increase testosterone levels, sperm count, and sperm motility. Foods like oysters, organ meats, lean beef, turkey, lamb, herring, wheat germ, legumes, and nuts are excellent sources of zinc.
According to some observational studies, zinc deficiency can lead to low quality of sperm and idiopathic male infertility (17). Zinc is also helpful in preventing a decrease in testosterone level that is associated with high-intensity exercise (18).
9. Have ashwagandha root extract
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) can improve sperm quality and reduce infertility in men. It is also known to support the nervous system, build stamina and enhance libido.
According to a 2013 study on 43 patients with low sperm count, 675mg/d of ashwagandha root extract for 90 days lead to a 167 percent increase in sperm count, 53 percent in increase in semen volume and 57 percent increase in sperm motility (19).
Ashwagandha also helps to improve testosterone levels in the body. An eight-week study where 57 males followed a strength-training programme showed that consuming 600 mg of ashwagandha root extract can increase testosterone levels, muscle mass, and strength (20).
10. Consume maca root powder
Natives of Peru have been using maca root to enhance libido and improve fertility for generations. According to clinical trials, taking 1.5 to 3 grams of maca root per day for 12 weeks can improve sexual desire (21).
Other studies suggest that maca can also improve erectile function (22). According to a 2015 study, consuming 1.7 grams of maca root powder per day for 12 weeks improved sperm concentration and motility (23).
11. Use Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus Terrestris is a Chinese herb that is used to increase sperm count, semen volume and enhance sperm motility. According to a 2012 study, when men with low sperm count were given Tribulus Terrestris granules over a period of 60 days, their erectile function and libido improved (24).
Though this herb does not improve testosterone levels, it is useful in enhancing the libido-promoting effect of testosterone.
12. Take D-Aspartic acid
Men who struggle with low sperm count can benefit from using a D-aspartic acid supplement. Studies also show that D-AA can increase the levels of testosterone.
During one study, men who took 2.66 grams of D-AA improved their testosterone levels by 30 to 60 percent and their sperm count and motility by 60 to 100 percent. As a consequence, the rate of pregnancies of their partners also improved (25).
However, in a study on the effects of D-AA on athletes with normal testosterone levels, researchers found that D-AA did not increase the levels of testosterone further (26).
Final thoughts on how to increase sperm count
Infertility affects almost 15 percent of the population in the reproductive age, and nearly 40 percent of these cases are attributed to men. Now that you know how to increase sperm count, it is important to follow these remedies on a regular basis.
Supplements and lifestyle changes can improve your overall health. Try these natural remedies to improve your sperm count and increase fertility.