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Older Men

Like women, men get less fertile after they reach a certain age, and there are several reasons for this and viable ways to reverse these effects:

  • When men are under 25, only 8% of fertile couples take a year or more to conceive
  • When men are over 35, about 15% of fertile couples take over a year to conceive v

This relationship between a man’s age and fertility continues as he gets older. When men with partners aged 35 to 40 years, and trying for a baby, are either under or over 40: vi

  • The annual pregnancy rates are 2.2 times higher when the man is under 40
  • Not conceiving, or a miscarriage happens three times more when the man’s over 40
  • When the man’s over 45, the couples take five times longer to get pregnant

In real terms, the possibility of ‘male factor’ being part of a couple’s infertility rises from 18% when he’s 35 to 28% when he’s 40 vii

Getting older has predictable impacts on men’s semen samples:

  • Lower volume
  • Lower percentages of normal sperm
  • Less sperm motility
  • Poorer genetic integrity of the sperm

Reasons why ageing reduces male fertility

  1. Ageing affects the whole body, and noticeable changes occur to cells in the testes and other sexual tissue. This includes the prostate and epididymis, which causes lower semen volumes and sperm activity. However, the testes only shrink when men reach their 80’s (by 31%) viii
  2. Testosterone levels vary a lot in young men, but after 30, all men experience a fall in testosterone level by about 1% each year. This adds up, and eventually, men experience the andropause” ix
  3. Reduced testosterone levels cause a wide range of symptoms, including lower libido, lower bone density and less muscle mass. There’s an increase in fat mass (with central obesity), insulin resistance, emotional irritability and low mood. Erectile dysfunction becomes more common too
  4. Simply living longer increases our exposure to damage or disease. Infections of the genitals or bladder, diseases of the blood vessels and the build-up of toxic substances all cause lower fertility: x
    • Infections in sexual glands significantly reduce sperm counts and affect 13.6% of men aged over 40, but only 6.1% of men under 25 xi
    • PCB levels reduce sperm counts and motility, and older men typically have higher levels of PCBs xii

Other issues for older men

Several other important issues affect older men and reduce conception rates:

  • Men are usually less sexually active as they get older
  • Erectile dysfunction increases with age
  • Type II diabetes risks increase with age, and it lowers fertility
  • Cardiovascular disease risk increases with age, and it also reduces male fertility

The main issues for men as they age are:

  1. Falling testosterone levels
  2. Rising levels of oxidative stress
  3. Changes to their general health
  4. Infections and inflammation

How to raise male fertility

When a man gets older, a variety of approaches work best, which means:

  1. Following the advice for your PFP.
  2. Reducing exposure to chemicals and toxins.
  3. Increasing antioxidants in the diet.
  4. Reducing stress and supporting the health of the autonomic nervous system.
  5. Getting enough sleep.
  6. Taking supplements that increase testosterone naturally.

Herbal treatments

Some individual herbs significantly improve semen quality and male hormone levels. These are often singly, but we recommend herbal combinations as they’re more balanced and can be adjusted. Combinations of herbs have been used for centuries to raise male fertility and can dramatically improve semen samples and fertility rates. Men have various symptoms relating to Ageing Male Syndrome, which we explain in relation to the six PFPs in Erectile Dysfunction. However, some individual herbs have compelling research to support them:

Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng)

  1. W.somnifera effectively reduces oxidative stress on sperm by lowering various oxidant levels, and higher levels of various antioxidants are found in the semen. The herb also improves sperm counts and motility, and it raises testosterone and other hormone levels of infertile men x
  2. W.somnifera appears to “reboot” the activity of enzymes and energy metabolism in infertile men. Because of this, there are better sex hormone balances and other vital factors in semen. This herb has been suggested as a clinical treatment of male infertility xi
  3. Treatment with W. somnifera significantly reduces sperm cell death and “free radical” damage. The men who take the herb have better essential mineral concentrations in their semen and improved semen quality xii
  4. W. somnifera also appears to have a protective function when men are exposed to high levels of external oxidative stress. This type of exposure usually leads to cell death and a reduction in testes size and function xiii

Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean)

  1. M. pruriens seeds increase the concentration and motility of the sperm of infertile men. When there are abnormal levels of lipids (fats), antioxidant vitamins, and sugars in semen samples, they become normal after treatment, plus there’s a reduction in “free radical” levels  xiv
  2. M. pruriens treatment shows significant improvements in the sex hormone levels of infertile men, plus significant improvements in their sperm counts and motility xv
  3. There’s evidence that M. pruriens reactivates the antioxidant defence system and improves the semen quality of infertile men. An additional benefit is that it also reduces the effects of psychological stress on men xvi

Because of its effect on lipids and mood, we suggest this herb is particularly appropriate for men with raised BMI and Phlegm-Damp conditions.

Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali)

This herb has been used for centuries in South-East Asian countries as a male fertility tonic. Modern research has found a wide range of effects: xvii

  1. It reduces weight by about 5% and, more importantly, abdominal fat by over 30%
  2. It raises testosterone levels by 30%
  3. Fertility improves, with sperm concentration, motility, and vitality all increasing significantly after taking the herb

Men with Late-Onset Hypogonadism (decreased testes function later in life) given 200mg of E. longifolia extract for a month experienced significant improvements, as measured by the Ageing Males’ Symptoms (AMS) and serum testosterone concentrations: xviii

  • Before treatment, 89.5% of the men had AMS complaints, and 35.5% had normal testosterone levels
  • After treatment, 28.3% had AMS complaints, and 90.8% of the men had normal testosterone levels

There haven’t been any adverse effects recorded with E. longifolia, and it appears to be a safe and effective treatment for male infertility. It seems to be especially appropriate when there’s a need to reverse problems associated with male ageing.

vThe male biological clock is ticking: a review of the literature. F. Pasqualotto; E. Júnior; E. Pasqualotto. Sao Paulo Med. J. vol.126 no.3 São Paulo May 2008.
vi Paternal age ≥40 years: An important risk factor for infertility. Elise de La Rochebrochard, Patrick Thonneau, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Volume 189, Issue 4, October 2003, Pages 901–905
vii Increased Infertility With Age in Men and Women. D Dunson, D Baird, Donna; B Colombo. Obstetrics & Gynecology: Jan 2004 – Volume 103 – Issue 1 – pp 51-56
viii Mahmoud AM, Goemaere S, El-Garem Y, Van Pottelbergh I, Comhaire FH, Kaufman JM. ‘Testicular volume in relation to hormonal indices of gonadal function in community-dwelling elderly men.’ J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003;88(1):179-84.ix Feldman HA, Goldstein I, Hatzichristou DG, Krane RJ, McKinlay JB. ‘Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: results of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study’. J Urol. 1994;151(1):54-61
xKidd SA, Eskenazi B, Wyrobek AJ. Effects of male age on semen quality and fertility: a review of the literature. Fertil Steril. 2001;75(2):237-48.
xi Ford WC, North K, Taylor H, Farrow A, Hull MG, Golding J. ‘Increasing paternal age is associated with delayed conception in a large population of fertile couples: evidence for declining fecundity in older men.’ The ALSPAC Study Team (Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood). Hum Reprod. 2000;15(8):1703-8.

x‘Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males’ Mohammad Kaleem Ahmad, Abbas Ali Mahdi, et al. Fertility and Sterility Volume 94, Issue 3 , Pages 989-996, August 2010
xi‘Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz.Gupta A, et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Aug 26;149(1):208-14.
xii ‘Withania somnifera improves semen quality by combating oxidative stress and cell death and improving essential metal concentrations’. Kamla Kant Shukla, Abbas Ali Mahdi et al. Reproductive BioMedicine Online Volume 22, Issue 5 , Pages 421-427, May 2011
ixiii‘Protective Effect of Withania somnifera (Linn.) on Cadmium-induced oxidative injury in rat testis’ Elumalai Prithiviraj et al. Phytopharmacology 2013, 4(2), 269-290
xiv‘Effect of Mucuna pruriens on semen profile and biochemical parameters in seminal plasma of infertile men’ Mohammad Kaleem Ahmad, Abbas Ali Mahdi, et al. Fertility and Sterility Volume 90, Issue 3 , Pages 627-635, September 2008
xv‘Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonadal axis’. Kamla Kant Shukla, Abbas Ali Mahdi et al. Fertility and Sterility Volume 92, Issue 6 , Pages 1934-1940, December 2009
xvi‘Mucuna pruriens Reduces Stress and Improves the Quality of Semen in Infertile Men’ Kamla Kant Shukla, Abbas Ali Mahdi et al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 7 (2010), Issue 1, Pages 137-144
xvii‘In vivo effects of Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Tongkat Ali) extract on reproductive functions in the rat’ M. C. Solomon et al. Andrologia. 6 MAR 2013.
xviiiStandardised water-soluble extract of Eurycoma longifolia, Tongkat ali, as testosterone booster for managing men with late-onset hypogonadism? M. I. B. M. Tambi, M. K. Imran, R. R. Henkel. Andrologia Volume 44, Issue Supplement s1, pages 226–230, May 2012