Planning to have children? Not only does this male fertility guide teach you how to increase sperm count, but it will also make you want to treat male infertility like the global health problem it actually is.
Guys often take their fertility for granted, not realizing that infertility affects many people around the world. In fact, becoming a father is a dream that can remain unattainable for many deserving men.
Fortunately, even though infertility is not always treatable, there are a number of things most infertile men can do to improve their condition. Don’t give up hope on siring children just yet.
But before we touch on the topic of how to increase sperm count, it helps to understand what exactly male infertility and sperm count are. This guide also provides an overview of semen analysis, as well as some shocking statistics about infertility in men.
What Is Male Infertility?
Strictly peaking, male infertility is defined as a man’s inability to impregnate a fertile female after a full year of unprotected sex. It can be caused by multiple variables, including genetics, fitness level, diet, diseases, and overall health.
Here are four key aspects of sexual function and semen quality that affect male fertility:
- Libido: Describes your overall sexual drive or desire to have sex. The lower your libido, the less sex you are likely having, and the less likely you are to impregnate a fertile woman.
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence): When you can’t get or keep an erection to have sex.
- Sperm health: The concentration of sperm cells in a sample of semen, as well as the shape and ability of the sperm to effectively swim.
- Testosterone levels: The male hormone testosterone plays a role in sperm production and many executive functions in the human body. Low levels can stall your sex drive and can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
These points will be fleshed out in the following sections, particularly the part where we provide tips on how to increase sperm count.
What Is Sperm Count?
Sperm count refers to the average number of healthy and viable sperm present in a sample of semen. Oligospermia is the technical term for low sperm count, while Azoospermia is the inability to make any sperm at all.
A milliliter of semen contains an average of 15 million and 200 million sperm cells, and you are considered to have low sperm count if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter.
Seeing as it only takes one healthy sperm to fertilize a female egg, it goes without saying that having more sperm per edjaculate improves a man’s chances of fathering a child.
You can find out your sperm count through a semen analysis, which can be done at your doctor’s office, a fertility clinic, or with an at-home male fertility test kit.
Semen Analysis And Other Male Fertility Tests
There are several aspects of your semen and sperm that a male fertility test like semen analysis looks at:
- Sperm concentration (count): The number of sperm found in a quantity of semen.
- Sperm motility: The ability of your sperm to swim in seminal fluid.
- Sperm morphology: The shape of your sperm.
As previously discussed, the lower the number of sperm in your semen, the lower the likelihood one will reach the egg.
Poor swimming capabilities make it difficult for sperm to get to the egg, while deformed sperm may not only swim poorly, but may also have difficulty penetrating and fertilizing the egg.
You can buy a male fertility test kit here.
Note: Semen analysis conducted by a medical professional generally looks at all three criteria, while at-home sperm count test kits only look at sperm count. Reach out to your doctor if you want a full analysis.
How To Increase Sperm Count
If you’re one of the many men struggling with infertility, whether due to low sperm count, weak sperm motility, or any number of other associated factors, don’t lose hope. There are many things you can do to give yourself a fighting chance at fatherhood.
There are foods, nutrients, and lifestyle factors that have been shown to help boost fertility in men of all ages. Let’s look at them.
Lifestyle Choices That Increase Sperm Count
Lifestyle choices play a major role in male fertility, so a little change in your lifestyle can go a long way to increase sperm count.
The following is a list of do’s and don’ts.
Reduce Stress Level
Stress is an enemy of sperm and is usually a cause of infertility in men. Severe or prolonged stress can cause hormonal imbalances in your body, potentially damaging your reproductive health.
A 2014 study found that life stress was associated with sperm concentration, motility, and morphology. An earlier study had similar findings: males who had more than two stressful events before starting treatment for infertility were more likely to have low sperm count.
If you want to increase your sperm count, do everything you can to reduce stress. Meditate to clear your mind, consider therapy, learn to say no, go for long walks, etc.
Get Enough Sleep
Good, quality sleep is vital to reducing stress and maintaining good health. It can help improve any adverse healthy condition, including low sperm count.
A study carried out in 2017 found that sperm count was highest in the participants who had 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep per day, while those who had longer or shorter sleep showed lower count and semen volume.
Ask any doctor about how to increase sperm count, and the first thing he or she will tell you is to eat healthy.
We will discuss diet in more detail in the next section, but know that the food we eat greatly affects our sperm count, motility, and morphology. Be very conscious with what you put in your mouth.
Get Enough Exercise
Not only does exercising improve your physical performance, aesthetics. and confidence levels, as well as reduce stress, but it may also boost your testosterone, which is used in sperm production.
Men who exercise regularly and in moderation have been shown to have higher testosterone levels and better semen health than sedentary men. However, too much exercise might actually have the opposite effect and decrease your testosterone.
The key is to exercise in moderation. Instead of intensively exercising everyday, cut back on some days to give your body some rest. And, of course, stay away from steroids, seeing as they can cause your testicles to shrink, resulting in male infertility.
If you’re too busy or, dare I say, too lazy to go to the gym or even a run, you can save time by working out at the comfort of your home. Check out our guide on the 20 Best At Home Workouts For Men To Build Muscle, Burn Fat.
Don’t Be Overweight
Being overweight is a strong predictor of poor sperm quality and infertility in men. It impacts sperm health by lowering your testosterone levels and increasing the risk of developing blood-flow problems that may affect your erections.
Studies show that men with a Healthy BMI (18.5 – 25.0) have a significantly lower risk of infertility. That’s why you must exercise and eat a broad, healthy diet.
It’s a known fact that smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that smoking is also bad for male fertility? Very bad!
A 2016 meta-analysis of 20 studies concluded that smoking is associated with low sperm count and motility, as well as poor sperm morphology.
Want to know how to increase sperm count? If you smoke, quit! If you don’t smoke, don’t start!
Cut Your Alcohol, Drug Use
As with smoking, excessive drinking and consumption of recreational drugs contributes to infertility in men by decreasing sperm count and quality.
The number of controlled studies exploring the link between sperm health, male infertility and drug use is limited, but a 2018 review was able to link the worldwide use of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and other drugs to lower sperm production.
If you are truly wondering how to increase sperm count in a big way, abstaining from excessive alcohol and drug use should be a no-brainer. Consider joining an alcohol and/or drug cessation program.
Avoid Certain Medications
Some medical treatments and prescription medications can potentially impair healthy sperm production and decrease male fertility.
The long list includes testosterone replacement therapy, cancer medications (chemotherapy), some antibiotic and antifungal medications, long-term anabolic steroid use, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, and opiates.
If you’re looking to increase sperm count, make sure to speak to your doctor before taking any medication.
Have Your Bike Checked
While cycling is an excellent way to get some exercise, it may lower sperm count.
Riding your Bicycle more than five hours per week has been associated with lower sperm concentration, and that’s because riders support most of their weight on the perineal body area between the testis and the rectum, restricting blood flow to the testis.
If you insist on riding your bike or motorcycle, having them checked for a proper fit can help minimize this problem.
Limit Exposure To Toxic Chemicals
Exposure to industrial chemicals, heavy metals like lead or copper, and toxic chemicals hiding in everyday products have been linked to low sperm health and count and infertility in men.
A 2019 study was able to find a connection between living in highly industrial areas with heavy air pollution and low sperm count.
Try your best to avoid environmental toxins as often as possible, including cigarette smoke. You should even consider finding a new job if your current job is one that greatly exposes you to chemical toxins.
Wear Loose, Cotton Underwear
Those tighty-whities that make you feel like stud might be harming your little swimmers. One study found that the men who wore tight-fitting underwear like briefs had 17 percent lower sperm counts than men who wore boxers.
Allowing plenty of airflow to your scrotum and keeping your sperm at an adequate temperature help create an environment that’s conducive for healthy sperm production.
If you don’t find wearing boxers to be comfortable, choose cotton briefs instead of synthetic ones. Cotton allows in more air than synthetic materials, making it more breathable.
Supplements And Foods That Increase Sperm Count
You are what you eat, and scientists believe our reliance on junk food is partly to blame for the dramatic rise in male infertility count over the past 50 years.
Diet has a huge impact on your hormones. A diet rich in certain foods can maximize testosterone levels and protect sperm from the effects of toxins, while eating the wrong foods can adversely affect sperm count, motility, and morphology.
Indeed, an important part of knowing how to increase sperm count is understanding the foods to eat and the foods to avoid. Lets begin with the foods you should consider avoiding.
The following are 13 foods that boost sperm count. Many of the items on the list are vitamins and minerals that can be obtained from dietary supplements.
However, considering that nutrients are most potent when they come from food, you should try to get them from the food you eat.
Supplements can be helpful if you are unable to make dietary changes, or if you have a genuine deficiency in a particular nutrient, but they should be used as a last resort when trying to increase sperm count and treat male infertility.
1. Zinc-Rich Foods
Zinc helps regulate sperm count and quality. Studies show that infertile men usually have lower zinc levels than fertile men.
Foods rich in zinc include oysters; shellfish (crab, lobster, etc.); poultry and red meat; beans, nuts and seeds; dairy; whole wheat grain products; and dark chocolate.
If you’re struggling to get an adequate amount of zinc from your diet, you can buy zinc supplements here.
2. Folate-Rich Foods
Sperm health is also affected by folate (Folic Acid), a type of B vitamin. Low folate is associated with damaged DNA and lower sperm concentration.
Examples of foods high in folate include green, leafy vegetables; fruits, especially oranges; nuts, seeds, beans, and peas; and whole grains.
You can buy folic acid supplements here.
3. Vitamin B12-Rich Foods
Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for overall sperm health. It helps keep your blood and nerve cells healthy and plays a key role in making DNA.
Studies show that Vitamin B12 deficiencies can result in low sperm count and sperm motility, and consequently, male infertility.
Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products like seafood, especially clams; meat, especially the liver; and dairy products like eggs, milk, and cheese. If you are a vegan, you need to be especially careful that you are not deficient.
Purchase vitamin B12 supplements here.
4. Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant believed to increase sperm count and improve sperm motility and morphology.
One study found that infertile men who took 1,000-mg of vitamin C supplements twice daily for up to two months increased sperm count and sperm motility by more than 100 percent and 92 percent, respectively, and reduced the number deformed sperm cells by 55%.
Vitamin C is found in many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, sweet and chilli peppers, kiwi, strawberries, cantaloupe, etc., are great sources.
Purchase vitamin B12 supplements here.
5. Vitamin D-Rich Foods
A 2019 analysis of 18 studies found a strong connection between improved male fertility and a higher level of vitamin D in the blood. However, the researchers cautioned that more clinical trials were needed to confirm their findings.
The best dietary sources of vitamin D are oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring and sardines; cod liver oil; beef liver; egg yolks; mushrooms; and fortified food products.
You can buy vitamin D supplements here.
6. Vitamin E-Rich Food
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect sperm cell membrane from damage, reducing the risk of male infertility. Studies show that vitamin E supplements may improve sperm quality, especially sperm motility.
This fat-soluble vitamin is a common nutrient found in most foods, especially nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts; seeds like sunflower seeds; green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach; and fortified breakfast cereals and other food products.
You can buy vitamin E supplements here.
7. Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant that your cells use to generate energy and grow. Recent studies suggest that daily intake of coenzyme Q10 supplements can help improve sperm health in infertile men, particularly sperm motility.
Foods high in Coenzyme Q10 include poultry and meats, especially beef and chicken; fatty fish such mackerel, trout and sardines; and seeds and nuts, especially sesame seeds, peanuts, and pistachios.
You can buy Coenzyme Q10 supplements here.
8. D-Aspartic Acid
D-aspartic acid is an amino acid that helps regulate male sex hormones like testosterone. Studies show that regular intake of sodium D-aspartic acid supplements can increase sperm count and motility, reducing the risk of male infertility.
D-aspartic acid is found in poultry and meat; eggs and dairy products; some grains such as oat bran, rice, and corn; and fortified breakfast cereals.
You can buy D-aspartic acid here.
9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega−3 is needed for healthy cell membranes and has a wide-range of health benefits. It’s not surprising, then, that a cross-sectional study of young men found that omega−3 fatty acid supplements may improve semen quality and reproductive hormone levels in men.
Fish and seafood, especially mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, herring, Oysters, and sardines, are the best sources of Omega−3 fatty acids, but a different type of Omega 3 fat can also be found in nuts and seeds like chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts.
You can buy omega-3 supplements here.
10. Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek has been used to treat low sperm count and improve sperm health for hundreds of years.
Although study outcomes are varied, it may increase testosterone levels and, consequently, improve sperm production and health.
You can buy fenugreek here.
11. Ashwagandha Root
Like Fenugreek, Ashwagandha has long been used in traditional medicines as a remedy for sexual dysfunction.
In a 2013 study, men with low sperm count who took 675 mg (0.68 grams) of ashwagandha everyday for 90 days increased their sperm count and motility by 167 percent
You can buy Ashwagandha root here.
12. Ginseng Root
Consuming 500 mg/kg of American ginseng daily has been shown to protect sperm and reduce the risk of male infertility. More specifically, it increases sperm count and reduces sperm death and abnormalities.
Ginseng is associated with blood pressure changes and other potentially harmful side effects, so talk to your doctor before using it.
You can buy ginseng root here.
13. Maca Root
Originating in the high Andes mountains of Peru, maca root is believed to enhance libido and improve male fertility, though research results are mixed.
One study found that maca doesn’t seem to affect testosterone levels, while another study concluded that it improves sperm concentration and motility.
You can buy Maca root here.
Foods That Cause Low Sperm Count
Limit your consumption of these foods, or ideally, eliminate them entirely from your diet:
- Sugar: Sugar, especially processed sugar, is bad for every part of your body. With regards to sperm health, a diet high in sugar can lead to an increase in aromatase – an enzyme that turns testosterone in estrogen and potentially causes low sperm count.
- Processed meats: Several studies have discovered a connection between eating processed red meat and both low sperm count and poor sperm motility. Processed meats include hot dogs, beef jerky, salami, and, yes, bacon.
- Trans fats: A 2011 Spanish study found a link between increased trans fat consumption and decreased sperm counts. Foods known to contain trans fats such as chips, donuts, cookies, icing, cakes, and fried fast foods, and frozen pizzas.
- Soy products: Soy products contain large amounts of estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens, too much of which reduces testosterone bonding and sperm production. A study from male fertility clinics in Boston found that excessive soy consumption might decrease sperm count.
- Pesticides and BPA: The chemicals in pesticides and BPA (bisphenol A) are technically not food, but they nevertheless end up in what we eat. Both act as xenoestrogens — chemicals that, like phytoestrogens in soy, mimic estrogen, wreak havoc on sperm production, and potentially cause infertility in men.
- High fat dairy products: You probably shouldn’t drink milk if you want healthy sperm. An analysis of the sperm and diet of 189 young men discovered an association between high-fat dairy products (whole milk, cream, cheese, etc.) and decreased sperm motility and abnormal sperm shape. It could partly be due to sex steroids injected into cows.
Male Infertility Statistics
Studies estimate that nearly 7% of men are sub-fertile or infertile. About 20% of guys have low sperm count, while 2-3 percent produce no sperm at all!
Of the nearly one in six couples struggling with infertility in the U.S., Canada, Europe and elsewhere around the world, fertility problems in the male partner is responsible for approximately 33 percent of all cases.
These are alarming male infertility statistics. And to make matters worse, the figures appear to be rising. The average man’s sperm count has dropped steadily over the past decades, plummeting by a whopping 59 percent between 1973 and 2011.
You might be subfertile and not even know it!
Don’t take your fertility for granted! It never hurts to learn how to increase sperm count well before you consider having children.
How To Increase Sperm Count: Conclusion
Male infertility resulting from low sperm count, poor sperm motility and morphology, and even azoospermia affects a lot more men than you think, and it’s increasing at an alarming rate.
If you think you’re suffering from infertility, it’s imperative that you learn how to increase sperm count, especially if you plan to have children someday. Talk to your doctor for advice and see if a male fertility test like semen analysis.
The first thing you should focus on is improving your general health. Strive to make beneficial changes to your lifestyle and diet before resorting to medication.
For the most part, the tips provided in this comprehensive guide are cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. We can’t guarantee that any of them will work, but they may do wonders for your sperm health if you’re someone suffering from nutrient deficiencies or low testosterone levels.
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