Male Fertility: What You Need to Know and 3 Elements to Minimize Male Infertility
June marks Men's Health Awareness month – which encompasses male fertility as much as general health concerns amongst men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 18% of men seeking assistance from a fertility specialist were diagnosed with infertility. Unfortunately, as is the case for women, male infertility isn't always treatable – but there are steps men can take to improve their chances of conceiving.
This article looks at links to male infertility and strategies for boosting fertility amongst men, including potential lifestyle changes, diet, and certain supplements. Plus, we highlight signs to be aware of to prompt men to seek medical advice and possible treatments for infertility.
Examining Male Infertility
What exactly do we mean when we say "male infertility?" This is when a man has a lower chance of impregnating his partner. And that typically comes down to semen quality or sexual function. Some examples include:
Libido or sex drive
Erectile dysfunction or impotence
Sperm cell count
Low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone
In the event challenges surface with any of the examples above, there are steps – in some instances – men can take to improve their chances of conceiving a child with their partner.
#1 Assess Your Current Lifestyle
While a healthy lifestyle isn't a guarantee for men to be fertile, it certainly minimizes potential risks and complications. Below are six things to be mindful of.
Smoking has been linked with decreased sperm count, motility, and morphology (the size and shape of sperm). And secondhand smoke has been shown to reduce fertility in assisted and non-assisted pregnancies.
Exercising regularly can increase testosterone levels and semen quality, improving overall health. Yet, excess exercise may harm fertility.
Prolonged stress may play a factor as it raises cortisol levels, decreasing testosterone levels.
Adequate sleep (neither too little nor too much) is vital for overall health and is linked to semen quality.
Obesity is correlated with a reduction in sperm concentration and motility, an increase in sperm DNA damage, and changes in reproductive hormones.
High temperatures should be avoided as it slows down your sperm factory. Reconsider those hot baths and soaks in the hot tub!
#2 Evaluate the foods you consume
In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it's also important to examine diet and any potential effects – positive or negative – on male fertility.
Alcohol can have three significant effects – lowering testosterone levels, causing erectile dysfunction, and decreasing sperm production and quality. Excessive alcohol consumption may lead to liver disease, which may impact infertility.
Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, certain beans, artichokes, pecans, and dark leafy greens may boost male fertility. See a list of the top 20 foods that are high in antioxidants.
Isoflavones found in things such as soy are associated with lower semen quality.
Folate, which can be found primarily in dark leafy green vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts, may be linked to improved semen quality. Oranges, lemons, bananas, melons, and strawberries are also rich in folate.
#3 Consider supplements
Taking certain supplements, in some instances, maybe another way to help boost male fertility. Below are a few experts recommend, although additional research is required to draw definitive links between supplement consumption and male fertility.
D-aspartic acid (D-AA) is a form of aspartic acid and has been linked to increasing testosterone levels.
Vitamin C has been shown to increase sperm motility by 92% and sperm count by more than 100% and reduce the proportion of deformed cells.
Vitamin D is linked to boosting testosterone levels and potentially also sperm motility – although research is inconsistent.
Puncture vine or Tribulus Terrestris is a medicinal herb that may improve male fertility by helping erectile function and libido.
Fenugreek extract is another medicinal herb shown in some studies to significantly increase testosterone levels, strength, and fat loss.
Zinc which can be found in meat, fish, eggs, and shellfish, is a cornerstone of male fertility by improving testosterone levels and sperm quality.
Ashwagandha is an ancient Indian medicinal herb that may boost testosterone levels.
Maca root originates in Peru and is historically used to improve libido and sexual performance.
For more suggestions and information on supplements that may support male fertility, check out this list from CNY Fertility.
When to seek professional counsel
Generally speaking, seeking a doctor's counsel is recommended after 12 months of being unable to conceive a child. However, the list below provides other signs to look out for that may prompt you to seek a doctor sooner.
Erection or ejaculation problems, low sex drive, or other problems with sexual function.
Pain, discomfort, a lump or swelling in the testicle area.
A history of testicle, prostate, or sexual issues.
A groin, testicle, penis, or scrotum surgery.
Potential Treatments for Male Infertility
Below are some common male infertility treatments:
Varicoceles are repaired with surgery to block off the abnormal veins.
Hormonal abnormalities can sometimes be treated with medicine or surgery.
Obstructions in the sperm transport plumbing can sometimes be surgically corrected.
If the above treatments didn't work, historically, it would mean permanent male infertility. However, assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) provide alternative options for couples looking to conceive a child. These techniques include IUI, IVF, and ICSI – yet often are pretty expensive and not typically covered by insurance providers.
Are you looking for support in affording ARTs? We can help! Schedule a free 15-minute consultation at +1 (877) 587-5087.