Are you and your partner suffering from infertility problems? Don’t worry, you are not alone. 18% of couples in the U.S. suffer from infertility. In 40% of these cases, the man is the cause (or part of the cause) of the infertility problems. 1 It can happen to anyone. Even some male celebrities – including Mark Zuckerberg, Hugh Jackman, and Gordon Ramsay – have come forward about their infertility problems. As Hugh Jackman says, “It’s a good thing to talk about. It’s more common and it’s tough.” Although it can feel frustrating, it is great to address the issue and educate yourself on how you can improve your sperm health.
Sperm health is one of the main factors of male fertility. Many aspects of the sperm contribute to its overall health including sperm morphology, sperm motility, and sperm count. Sperm morphology is the percentage of normally shaped sperm, while sperm motility is the percentage of moving sperm. Having low percentages of normally-shaped and mobile sperm can reduce your chances of fertilization. These factors are just as important as sperm count, which is the number (or concentration) of sperm. The most recent World Health Organization study on sperm count states that a normal count is at least 15 million sperm per mL. A normal and healthy sperm count is essential in fertility.
Infertility in males can be caused by many different things such as diet, lifestyle, and other underlying conditions. Although it is not always treatable, there are many things you can do, such as lifestyle and diet adjustments, that can help boost your sperm count and therefore increase your chances of conceiving. This article gives 10 things that men can do to try and increase their sperm count and therefore boost their fertility.
1. maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight has been associated with having lower sperm counts, decreasing potential fertility. However, research has shown that losing weight can significantly increase semen volume, concentration, mobility, and normal morphology. If you are overweight, losing some extra weight could be a great place to start to try to boost your sperm count! Losing just a small amount of weight can make a difference. This can be done by adjusting eating habits, creating an exercise plan, and talking to a doctor about what would work best for you.
2. eat a healthy diet
A diet filled with healthy and nutritious foods could be a great start to boosting your sperm count. Studies have shown that foods rich in anti-oxidants have been associated with increased sperm count. This includes foods that contain beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and vitamin C. Examples of these foods include pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, tropical fruit, and kale.
Research has also shown that trans fatty acids are inversely related to sperm count. Instead of eating foods containing trans-fat, consider replacing them with healthy fats such as avocados.
Lastly, it is recommended that men who want to increase their sperm health limit their consumption of processed meats and increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables.
3. exercise regularly
In addition to a healthy diet, a workout routine can be very beneficial to a man’s sperm health. In a study of 90 obese men, those who implemented a 16-week aerobic exercise program increased the count, motility, and morphology of their sperm. Another study found that weight lifting and outdoor activity were the most effective forms of exercise in increasing sperm quality. Consider adding an exercise routine to your weekly schedule if you are looking to improve your health and boost your sperm count.
4. prevent testicle overheating
While maintaining sperm health, it is important to ensure sperm are kept at a good temperature. High temperatures have been shown to cause sperm damage. Therefore, it is important to avoid excessive hot tub and sauna use. Additionally, research has found that men who wear primarily loose underwear such as boxers tend to have a higher sperm count than those who wear primarily tight or fitted underwear. In another study comparing cotton and polyester fabrics, polyester underwear was associated with a decrease in sperm count compared to cotton underwear. Therefore, it could be beneficial for your sperm health to try and increase your use of loose, cotton underwear and reduce your time in the hot tub.
5. avoid drug use and excessive alcohol consumption
Research has shown that moderate alcohol consumption, defined as 3.5 to 7 drinks per day, has been associated with altered sperm maturation, while heavy alcohol consumption, defined as 7 or more drinks per day, has been associated with arrested sperm development. Therefore, limiting alcohol consumption could help improve overall sperm health.
Additionally, studies have found that smoking cigarettes can negatively affect semen by reducing count and motility. Similarly, marijuana use has also been associated with lower sperm count. Limiting your usage of cigarettes and marijuana could be a great way to boost your sperm count.
6. reduce exposure to environmental toxins
Pollution has become a more prevalent issue in the modern world. Studies have shown that metals, pesticides, and air pollutants can decrease sperm count. Additionally, the radiation from Wi-Fi, phones, and laptops has been shown to negatively affect male fertility. Although some of these things are hard to avoid, it is important to limit your exposure to them as best as possible.
7. maintain healthy vitamin levels
Ensuring that you are getting enough of each essential vitamin is important for general health, but it can have a strong impact on sperm health as well. Studies have shown that maintaining healthy levels of vitamin C, vitamin D, and coenzyme Q10 (known as CoQ10) can all improve sperm health by increasing sperm concentration and/or motility. Consider taking vitamin supplements if you are concerned about not getting enough of your daily vitamins.
8. consider taking additional supplements
In addition to basic daily vitamins, other supplements have been found to improve sperm health in certain cases. One of these supplements is Ashwagandha, an ancient medicinal herb commonly grown and used in Indian medicine. Research has found that taking an Ashwagandha supplement can increase sperm count, volume and motility. Another supplement to be considered is Fenugreek, a clover-like herb whose seeds are commonly used in medicine. Research has found that extract from its seeds increased sperm health, with 85.4% of participants showing increased sperm counts.
9. minimize stress
Another general, yet necessary way to boost sperm count is by trying to relax and minimize stress. Studies have found that psychological stress is related to lower sperm count. If you are stressed, consider taking steps to try to reduce stress, such as going for walks, meditating, or speaking with a therapist.
10. talk to your doctor
Overall, if you are worried about your own sperm count and fertility, it is important to speak with a doctor. If you are having trouble having a child, a doctor can help determine the cause of the issue. Infertility is a common problem and nothing to be ashamed of. Doctors can perform sperm analyses to find any specific issues with your sperm, give you recommendations on lifestyle changes to make, and possibly prescribe medications to improve your sperm health. If you want to have a family, there are also many alternative options such as IVF and adoption. Speak with a healthcare expert at one of our clinics to decide which path is right for you.