Raising Male Fertility
It’s possible to raise male fertility by improving a man’s health, to raise the quality of his semen and sperm. This simple core approach to health is practical and relies on the morefertile Fertility Profile results. By matching lifestyle, diet and herbs to each man’s personal needs, men see changes to their fertility within a few months. There are also various tests to highlight individual concerns and a range of treatment options to resolve them.
A man’s fertility is less complicated than female fertility and revolves around enough sperm reaching an egg to fertilise it. It takes about 40 sperm to break through the shell that surrounds an egg, and the sperm that manages to do this needs to be carrying DNA that will create a healthy pregnancy.
A significant issue for male fertility is the damage sperm experience while forming in the testes. The damage is often from toxins from the environment but can also be internally generated. Environmental toxins include smoking, alcohol and chemicals. Internally generated toxins come from burning sugars in our cells to power them. A possible side-effect of burning sugar in cells is “oxidative stress” which damages cell structures and DNA.
In truth, any exposure to toxins damages sperm and reduces a man’s fertility. It’s generally possible to avoid most environmental toxins like smoking, alcohol, pesticides, chemicals, and drugs (Lifestyle). However, the internal issues are more complicated, and we recommend following the personal fertility profile (PFP) advice, with reference to the suggestions below.
Internal Causes of Low Male Fertility
Oxidative stress is now seen as one of the most important causes of male infertility.i The term “oxidative stress” describes an imbalance between “reactive oxygen species”, which are chemicals that naturally form in cells, and the body’s ability to rapidly detoxify them or repair the damage they cause.
- Oxidation happens when oxygen converts energy from food into energy that powers cells and is the energy basis of nearly all lifeforms.
- Reactive oxygen species (ROS) include “peroxides”, ozone and nitric oxide, to name a few.
- While ROS are generally seen as “BAD”, they perform essential roles in cells, including the ability of white blood cells to destroy invaders and cancer cells.
- “Free radicals” can form when essential oxidation reactions get out of control and start chain reactions that damage structures within cells (particularly the DNA), to the point cell function is so disrupted they die.
- Antioxidants are a wide range of substances that prevent, reduce or repair ROS damage. They’re essential to stop “free radical” chain reactions.
- All life forms have developed complex systems to protect their cells from “free radical” damage, based on a variety of antioxidants (vitamins, enzymes and minerals). These combine to limit oxidation processes, and without them, cells would simply “burn up”.
Sperm cells are tiny, and DNA is on a single chromosome helix, making them particularly vulnerable to damage. Antioxidant levels are crucial for healthy DNA [show_to accesslevel= “free”] as they reduce ROS damage. The combination of antioxidant and free radical levels in semen samples is more accurate at predicting male fertility than standard semen tests! ii iii
About 60-75% of male infertility has traditionally been classed as of “unknown cause”, but it’s now thought that high oxidative stress (and low antioxidant levels) were the main issue. This link is so strong that cell types in semen samples give a good indication of oxidative stress levels:
- Semen samples often contain round cells (immature sperm) and leukocytes (white blood cells). Both produce free radicals, so semen with many of these cells are more likely to have high oxidative stress levels. iv
How to reduce oxidative stress
- Avoid the environmental factors that increase it, including exposure to toxins (alcohol, smoking, radiation etc.).
- Supplementing with antioxidants that reduce free radical development is a crucial way for men to raise their fertility, and the benefits aren’t just limited to sperm: v
- Men with erectile dysfunction have higher free radical levels and lower antioxidant levels. vi
- Fertile men have semen with significantly higher Total Antioxidant Status (TAS) than infertile men.
- Antioxidant levels are closely related to sperm concentration, motility and morphology. vii
Antioxidants to improve male fertility
A balanced approach to dietary supplements is fundamental because taking megadoses or supplementing for extended periods can harm health and fertility. Our recommendation is to eat a healthy diet and add good quality food-state supplements as needed. To be scientific and safe when taking supplements, get a nutritional assessment of personal needs and supplement accordingly. It’s worth noting that the ONE test also tests oxidative stress levels.
- Nutritional supplements can improve erectile dysfunction. After three months of supplementing with propionyl-L-carnitine, L-arginine and niacin (all antioxidants), 40% of men had significantly enhanced erections, and around 77% had partial improvements. iix
- As there’s no single “magic” substance that reduces oxidative stress, it’s best to supplement with a range of antioxidants. ix
- Research indicates that low folate levels in semen samples are linked to higher sperm DNA fragmentation rates. x
- High antioxidant intake (vitamin C, vitamin E, b-carotene, zinc, and folate) results in about 20% less sperm DNA damage than men with low antioxidant intakes.
- Adding antioxidants to the diet improves the sperm quality of men over 45, and their DNA fragmentation rates reduce to levels usually found in young men. xi
Recommended supplements (male and female)
- A quality multi-vitamin & mineral formula.
- Krill oil contains astaxanthin, which is especially good for men.
- Vitamin D (it improves testosterone levels and cardiac health). xii
- Additional antioxidants, including vitamin C & E.
Additional supplements for men
- Folic acid.
- L Arginine.
- L Carnitine.
- Co-enzyme Q10.