Ways to Increase Male Fertility
Having a baby is a big life event. Unfortunately, many people struggle with infertility issues, which can make the process a lot harder than it needs to be. In fact, research has found that 1 in 3 couples will run into infertility problems that are specifically related to men , which is a very alarming statistic that simply can't be ignored. Don't worry though, because there are many different things that can help to increase your fertility. Let's take a look at some of the best ways to do just that...
Commit to an Effective Exercise Routine
Simple lifestyle changes like exercise are known to positively impact many different areas of health, including fertility. If you aren't currently working out, now's the time to get moving. Firstly, a regular and well-managed exercise routine helps to improve levels of testosterone within your body, which is important for stimulating the production of healthy sperm cells. However, too much exercise can unfortunately have the opposite effect too, decreasing overall testosterone levels and ultimately hindering your sexual health in the process.
A study published in 2012 compared the levels of different hormones, including testosterone, with sperm traits like volume and motility in both physically active and inactive men. The results showed that better sperm movement and shape was found in physically active males, who also tended to have higher levels of testosterone. The authors of the study ultimately concluded that “physically active subjects seem to have… healthier semen production.” Aside from the benefits of exercise on your overall testosterone level, the other benefit is of course in maintaining a healthy body weight.
Obesity is no laughing matter because it can negatively affect a lot of other areas of your health, including the condition of your heart, lungs, and joints. But many people don't realise that an increased body weight can also affect fertility. It is thought that being overweight can affect the structure of male sperm cells. As a result, the sperm cells may experience reduced movement, or speed and shape inefficiencies, which can prevent them from fertilising female egg cells. A review published in 2012 discussing the impact of obesity on sperm production stated that “couples with an overweight or obese male partner… have increased odds ratio for increased time to conceive compared with couples with normal weight male partners.”
What's more, it is believed that these sexual health issues can be transmitted to the sperm cells, meaning that your current health woes may be passed on to your children. As scary as all this might sound, starting a new exercise routine to look after your weight and testosterone levels couldn't be easier. It's currently recommended that every adult aged between 19 and 64 should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week , which equals five 30 minute sessions a week. Suitable activities that you may want to start off with include:
- Walking, jogging or running (whatever your fitness level can accommodate)
Like we mentioned earlier, too much of the wrong kind of exercise can hinder your testosterone levels further, and may exasperate the health of your heart if you're overweight. Excessive and overly-strenuous weight training should therefore be avoided, but try and get two training sessions in a week that incorporate all your major muscle groups for the most benefit.
Limit Your Fat Intake
Having just talked about the effects obesity can have on your sexual health, the next natural way to help increase male fertility is to take a long hard look at your diet. Obesity in the vast majority of cases can be linked to a poorly balanced and unhealthy diet that's highly reliant on fatty and sugary foods. Revolutionising your diet to substitute out these unhealthy foods for more beneficial alternatives is of paramount importance, so here are a few tips that you may want to consider to help clean up your diet:
- Learn to cook your own meals instead of relying on pre-cooked and processed meals – A lot of ready meals contain incredibly high levels of fats, sugars and additives that don't do your body or healthy any good. Cooking your own meals lets you see and control how much fat and sugar you ingest each day.
- Instead of reaching for chocolate or crisps as snacks, try fruit and mixed nuts instead - Common confectionaries are full of fats and oils which limit any nutritional benefit your body manages to scavenge from them. Pieces of fruit contain natural sugars that help to energise you without an obnoxiously high calorie content. They're also great sources of fibre, which can help to reduce the amount of fat that's absorbed in the small intestine. Mixed nuts, in moderation, are a great source of beneficial fatty acids that may help to support your heart. Too many though may cause further weight gain, so be careful.
- Grill or bake the meat you eat, instead of frying it – Frying foods involves a lot of oil, which subsequently contains a lot of fat. Cut these out of your diet by baking or grilling food instead, using small amounts of olive oil rather than things like vegetable, corn or peanut oil.
Vitamin C is without a doubt the best known vitamin in the world because it supports a huge variety of different health areas. It's found in most fruits and vegetables, but more specific and potent sources include:
- Citrus fruits like apples, grapefruit and oranges
- Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
- Red and green peppers
Vitamin C is perhaps most famous for its ability to help protect your body against oxidative stress caused by free radical molecules. Although these free radicals pose a threat to all different areas of your health, your immune system often takes the biggest beating from them. Vitamin C is a known free radical scavenger, which means they are able to stabilise free radicals by donating electrons, pacifying them and preventing any further damage from being dealt. Knowing all this is particularly important because your sex organs and reproductive cells are not immune to the damage that free radicals can cause.
Scientists have studied the effects of oral vitamin C doses on sperm cells. An experiment in Dubai in 2006 gave 13 infertile male patients aged between 25 and 35 a 1,000mg oral dose of vitamin C twice a day for 2 months. Sperm cell parameters like movement, shape and total number were recorded both before and after the trial. The results found that all participants saw a vast improvement in all sperm cell parameters that were being studied, and the authors concluded that “vitamin C supplementation in infertile men might improve sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology.”
Although this study is relatively small scale, it's a positive indication of the benefits vitamin C could have for your sexual health. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it can't be stored in your body and needs to be ingested every day in order for your body to be able to use it. Make sure you meet the daily recommended intake for adults of 40mg a day to help increase fertility. Shop for vitamin C supplements here.
Zinc is needed in trace amounts in your body, and is frequently known as ‘the ultimate sex mineral'. Despite being used to help support your immune system, as well as the functioning of your brain and eyes, zinc can be found in large concentrations in the seminal fluid, which plays an important part in the reproductive process. It's generally accepted that higher zinc levels in the body means improved quality and volume of sperm produced in the testicles. Zinc is known to influence lipids in the seminal fluid, which affects the stability of cell membranes. Without healthy cell membranes, your sperm cells could struggle to function efficiently, hence why maintaining zinc levels is believed to be so important for male fertility.
Although your body only needs small amounts of zinc, it is not stored in your body, so you have to make sure that your diet contains daily doses to enjoy the benefits it can provide. A study published in 2009 looking at zinc intake and sperm quality, stated that “poor zinc nutrition may be an important risk factor for low quality of sperm and idiopathic male infertility.” The NHS recommends that the daily recommended intake for adults aged 19 to 64 years old is 9.5mg for men and 7mg for women. There are many different foods that are known to contain good levels of zinc, like chicken, turkey, eggs and legumes. However, you may find it easier to supplement your diet with zinc capsules to make sure that you are able to maintain consistent, high-quality daily doses in an effort to increase fertility. Shop for zinc supplements here.
It can't be overstated that smoking is without a doubt one of the worst things you can do for your health. This habit is known to contribute to the development of a variety of different cancers, as well as causing tar and plaque to build up in your lungs and arteries, damaging your circulatory system and overall heart health. With this in mind, it's important to know that these hindrances also extend to your sexual health and fertility. When we talk about how things can affect male fertility, we largely focus on the health of the sperm cells and a few specific parameters that are most commonly prioritised in scientific study. These are the total count of sperm, sperm motility (the movement of cells), and sperm morphology (the shape and structure of cells).
We've talked about these earlier in the article, but it's important to stress that smoking has been found to negatively impact all of these parameters, vastly reducing male fertility which may prevent conception from occurring. To confirm this, a meta-analysis study was published in 2016 that looked at the effects of cigarette smoking and semen quality. Twenty studies with a total of 5865 participants were used in the meta-analysis, which is highly regarded as a methodology in the scientific community, thanks to the huge amount of data that is collected and discussed. The results of the study found that “exposure to cigarette smoking was associated with reduced sperm count, motility and morphology.” With this in mind, and the plethora of other dangerous effects smoking can have on your health, quitting this harmful habit is a sure-fire way of helping to increase male fertility.
Try to Reduce Stress
Occasional feelings of stress are nothing to be concerned about. Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives, whether it's a job interview, a wedding or the incoming birth of a child that causes it. However, if you feel continually stressed and your problem becomes chronic, your sexual health could begin to suffer tremendously. What's worse, you might find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle, as diminished sexual health could stress you out, which could in turn hinder your sexual health further. This repeated over and over again can soon become a nightmare.
In a 2015 article discussing the effects of psychological stress on male fertility, it was stated that “many clinical studies looking at the effects of psychological stress on male fertility have shown that stress is associated with reduced paternity and abnormal semen parameters.” It has even been suggested that chronic and continuous feelings of stress can impact the process of spermatogenesis, otherwise known as the formation of healthy sperm cells. It's easy for us to simply say that you have to limit the amount of stress you're feeling in order to help increase your fertility, but we understand that it's much more complicated than that. Each and every person handles stress differently, meaning that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing stress. Here are a few suggestions, however, that are universally accepted to be able to help:
- Get a good night's sleep and add lavender oil to the underside of your pillow
- Start a new hobby or learn a new skill
- Vent to your friends and family
- Listen to your favourite music
- Do or watch something that makes you laugh
Throughout this article, we've presented just a few of the possible things that you might be able to do to help increase male fertility. Whether you choose something as simple as cutting out a certain food from your diet, or a new 10 minute morning workout, every effort may be able to help contribute to your goal. Before you start making any serious changes, however, it's best to seek the opinion of your local GP. They will be able to provide much more individually tailored advice that directly caters to you and your health.