Guest Post by Victor Alex; Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Fertility is a topic of concern that has endured since the beginning of time and for a good reason. As humans, we ensure our survival through our children. This is where the magic happens. Unfortunately, infertile couples or spouses are unable to make this happen. 

For a long time, infertility was thought to be the woman’s fault alone. However, with advances in modern medicine, we now know that male infertility is the other half of the equation. That is, egg + sperm. Male fertility is equally as important as female fertility. Therefore, people (men in particular) should actively and intentionally keep tabs on male fertility. 

This article sheds more light on male fertility lifestyle changes and natural ways to optimize male fertility. So, grab a drink and settle down, as this article will open your mind to lifestyle changes that will make a difference in male fertility.

What is Fertility?

Fertility is simply the ability of a person or couple to conceive and reproduce through normal activity and without medical assistance. A man is fertile when he can produce sufficient (healthy) sperm and deliver them into the uterus of a woman or female partner. 

What is Infertility? 

Infertility is the inability or difficulty of a couple to conceive and reproduce naturally after one year of frequent unprotected sex. Male infertility is when a man is unable to successfully impregnate his female partner after one year of continuous and unprotected sexual activity. 

Several factors cause male infertility or fertility problems. They include: 

  • Sexual function
  • Semen quality
  • Low sex drive or decreased libido
  • Low hormone levels (e.g., testosterone and prolactin)
  • Low sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen), quality, or motility
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Certain drugs like steroids
  • Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplants.
  • Surgery for cancers of the reproductive organs and cancers in the pelvic region
  • Abnormal sperm function or blockages preventing the delivery of sperm

About 50% of infertility cases can be traced back to male infertility. This goes to show how important male fertility is for pregnancy. Therefore, as a couple, both partners (male and female) must investigate fertility issues and manage them. 

Natural Ways to Optimize Male Fertility

Fertility is a very sensitive topic and definitely not a favorite for discussion. A man would sooner talk about his sexual escapades than talk about his fertility challenges. No one wants to be the butt of that joke. Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to be that way. As a man, you can take control of your fertility and change the narrative in your favor. The best part is that you can even start from home. 

The testicles produce sperm daily, but a full sperm maturity or regeneration cycle (spermatogenesis) takes about 64 days or 2.5 months. This means that the lifestyle changes you make will start affecting your sperm (and fertility) 2 months from now as the new, healthier sperm cells mature and become present in your ejaculate. 

Below are eight science-backed lifestyle changes as well as nutrients and supplements that boost male fertility.

  • Regular Exercise

Regular exercise keeps the body healthy and strong and increases powerful antioxidant enzymes that protect sperm. It also helps to balance your hormones, which are important for fertility. Men who regularly exercise typically have better sperm concentrations and motility than men with a sedentary lifestyle. 

According to a study, regular physical activity improves testosterone levels and semen quality. Another study revealed that weight loss and exercise among overweight and obese people improves or increases sperm count, motility, and normal morphology.

Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, boosts blood flow, and reduces stress. This, in turn, leads to better sperm production and quality, making it easier to have a baby. Nevertheless, the intensity and duration of exercises needed to boost male fertility aren’t fixed. Some studies found that high-intensity exercise has a greater impact on semen quality and male fertility. On the other hand, some studies found that vigorous exercise affects male fertility negatively. So, to play it safe, find a balance and stick with it!

  • Get Some Sleep and Relax

Let’s face it; you really can’t get in the mood when you’re tired or stressed. But there’s more to it. Personal burnout and stress are directly linked to erectile dysfunction and reduced sexual satisfaction. Also, stress negatively affects sperm concentration, total count, and motility, thereby reducing sperm quality. 

Getting enough sleep and sleeping on time improves sperm health. When you get enough sleep, your body produces important hormones that help make healthy sperm. 

  • Take Vitamin D Often

Vitamin D is essential for several bodily functions and reproductive health. It boosts testosterone levels, the hormone essential for sperm production. Higher testosterone levels equal healthier and more abundant sperm. Additionally, vitamin D helps regulate calcium, which helps the sperm function properly. When sperm function properly, they have the energy and mobility needed to swim and reach the egg. According to a study, low vitamin D levels have a causal relationship with low testosterone levels, affecting male fertility. 

However, a study revealed that while vitamin D improves testicular and prostate function, there are no significant effects of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels. The study also found that although vitamin D engages spermatogenesis, it remains unclear whether vitamin D is a determinant of fertility. Therefore, more research is needed on this.

  • Don’t Forget Vitamin C

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, fighting harmful substances in your body that can hurt your sperm. Vitamin C helps improve semen quality, sperm count, and motility. This is especially helpful for men who are older or have an unhealthy lifestyle. The reason is because men in this category tend to suffer from oxidative stress. 

Oxidative stress is simply when the body’s reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels are harmful. Research shows that oxidative stress may affect sperm count and quality, thus affecting male fertility. Therefore, taking antioxidant supplements like vitamin C may help improve male fertility. 

  • Try Fenugreek Extracts

Fenugreek extracts or supplementation significantly improve male testosterone levels. According to a study, fenugreek extracts have a significant effect on total serum testosterone. In another study, it was found that taking 600 mg of Testofen (a fenugreek supplement) daily for three months boosts erectile function, testosterone levels, and sexual activity.

However, these studies examined fenugreek extracts, not whole fenugreek, which is used for culinary purposes. 

  • Get enough Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), or Indian ginseng, is an ancient Indian herb used for medicine.  It also remedies several forms of sexual dysfunction. In a 2013 study, men with low sperm counts took 675 mg of Ashwagandha roots every day for three months and experienced a 167% increase in their sperm count, 53% increase in semen volume, and 57% increase in sperm motility. 

Nevertheless, consult a doctor or healthcare professional on when and how to use Ashwagandha to boost fertility.

  • Stay Away From Alcohol and Hard Drugs

Hard drugs like marijuana or any other drugs containing CBD (Cannabidiol) reduce sperm quality, quantity, and motility. Heavy consumption of alcohol has oxidative effects on the body, harming and reducing sperm production. However, drinking occasionally is no problem. So, always find a middle ground.

  • Eat Healthy

Eating healthy is the best thing you can do for your sperm health. Foods rich in antioxidants deactivate free radicals, which damage cells. Antioxidants like beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and vitamin C contribute to a healthy sperm count.

Additionally, foods with healthy fats (like omega-3 fatty acids) improve sperm motility and concentration. You can also spice up your diet with folate and zinc. This combination can boost sperm health, concentration, and count. However, there are limited studies regarding folate and zinc consumption.

Extra Tips 

There are different causes of fertility issues, and they require individualized treatment plans and lifestyle changes. However, here are some more general things you can do to maintain fertility:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at all costs. STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility (and fertility issues) in men. Therefore, it’s very essential to practice safe sex.
  • Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet. Remember, you are what you eat!
  • Stop smoking!

Conclusion

Fertility challenges and infertility are common predicaments globally. It is a sensitive issue that no one is willing to share openly. However, a problem shared is a problem solved, and talking about your fertility issues (as a man) will help you handle it better. 

If you struggle with fertility, the best thing to do is focus on healthy lifestyle activities. A few lifestyle changes may be all you need. With the help of this article, you now know how to take control of your fertility. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this, the general tips outlined in this article will surely make a difference.

Always consult with a doctor or healthcare professional before undergoing any self-medication or treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are sperm cramps a sign of infertility?

No, sperm cramps do not cause fertility issues in men because “sperm cramps” is not a recognized medical condition. Although sperm cramps do not directly affect fertility, they may be a sign of other issues that might affect fertility, such as infections, varicoceles (enlarged veins in the scrotum), or other medical conditions. 

  • Can environmental toxins impact male fertility?

Yes, environmental toxins can impact male fertility. Chemicals found in pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, organic solvents, painting materials, and pollution can harm sperm production and quality. These toxins can reduce sperm count, concentration, motility, and viability. Also, such toxins can damage sperm DNA, cause abnormal sperm morphology, and affect their ability to swim properly.

  • Does age impact male fertility?

Age has a significant impact on male fertility, sexual function, and sperm parameters. As men get older, their sperm quality tends to decline. This means there can be a lower sperm count, reduced motility, and more DNA damage in the sperm. These changes can make it harder to father a child and increase the risk of genetic issues. While many older men can still have children, fertility generally decreases with age.