Men are often left out of the story when we talk about infertility. It is often said that this is because the female reproductive system is incredibly complex compared to the males. But more likely it has a lot to do with the fact that women talk (just at look at all the amazing #ttc communities out there!), and are more likely to research their health and their bodies. And of course, the fact that the female is the one who becomes 'pregnant' and carries the baby.
Men shouldn’t be left out of the equation though. Because of all infertility cases, approximately 40–50% is due to “male factor” infertility.
“Male factor” infertility can be due to one or a combination of low sperm concentration, poor sperm motility, or abnormal morphology. And interestingly sperm counts appear to be plummeting throughout the Western world. A large study of 43,000 men in industrialised countries showed that sperm counts have dropped by more than half over nearly four decades.
Luckily, there are things you can do to improve sperm count and quality.
Before we dive headfirst into the supplements you can take to improve sperm health, let’s run through some sperm basics. Everyone knows that in order to conceive, a male sperm and female egg must unite. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Only a tiny fraction of the sperm that enter the vagina will make it to the fallopian tube. And if that sperm is in bad shape, they’re not going to make it. And if they do, could find it hard to penetrate the egg.
The main three factors affecting sperm quality are:
Motility refers to the sperm’s overall movement. When sperm moves quickly and with the proper movement/direction, this makes the sperm more efficient at reaching and fertilising the egg.
Sperm morphology refers to the shape and structure of the sperm. The shape of the sperm, specifically the head, needs to be a certain shape to be able to penetrate the outer layers of the egg. Additionally, morphology impacts the sperm’s movement as well.
- Sperm volume
A leading cause in male infertility is the lack of sperm production. A lower sperm count means lower chances for the sperm to reach the female egg to fertilize. That’s why sperm volume is crucial for male fertility.
Luckily the right supplementation can improve the above three factors. And some more great news is that the lifecycle of sperm is only 72 days, so men can improve the quality of their sperm in just a few months.
The Supplements You Need To Increase Male Fertility
We have researched the top supplements to improve sperm morphology, motility, and overall sperm health. These supplements work together to increase chances of conception.
Myo-inositol is critical for cell growth, cell membrane formation, lipid synthesis, and cell signalling in your body.
According to research, myo-inositol has a beneficial impact on mitochondrial function. If you remember from high school biology, the mitochondria are the “powerhouse of the cell,” meaning they are responsible for energy production. The idea is that supporting the mitochondria helps ensure the sperm have adequate energy production to support proper motility. In the research, incubation of sperm from men with low sperm count, motility, and/or morphology with myo-inositol resulted in higher sperm motility. In another study, Myoinositol significantly increased the percentage of acrosome‐reacted spermatozoa (sperm that can fuse with and penetrate the egg), sperm concentration, and total count and progressive motility compared to placebo.
L-carnitine is an amino acid and is a key component in creating energy for our cells. Its main function is helping break down fatty acids for use as energy, which keeps the body’s cells powered and working efficiently. It does this by improving mitochondrial function and increasing cellular energy. Many athletes use it to help them burn fat, enjoy enhanced recovery and prevent muscle fatigue.
A high concentration of carnitine is found in the male reproductive tract, especially in the epididymis (the long, coiled tube that stores sperm and transports it from the testes). This suggests carnitine plays a crucial role in energy metabolism and in the maturation of sperm cells.
L-carnitine also acts in ways to increase sperm motility. Consumption of this supplement stimulates the sperm to move faster and more effectively, increasing chances of conception. Some research papers have also indicated that this molecule increases sperm concentration as well.
Free radicals can cause damage to parts of cells including DNA by stealing their electrons through a process called oxidation. Oxidative stress occurs when there is excess free radicals circulating in the body.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect the sperm's cell membrane from damage. According to research studies, vitamin E helps strengthen the outer membrane of the sperm. This protects the sperm from degradation as it moves. This supplement also increases the movement and speed of the sperm to ensure it reaches the egg.
Vitamin C helps with the production of Vitamin E. As such, it inherently aids in sperm motility and protection.
While the maca plant has been associated with increasing sex drive and energy, there’s been more recent research into it’s effect on sperm quality. The research shows that treatment with Maca Root resulted in increased seminal volume, sperm count and sperm motility.
Zinc (Zn) is the second most abundant trace element in human, which can’t be stored in the body, thus regular dietary intake is required. Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility. Studies have shown that low zinc status or deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels, poor sperm quality, and an increased risk of male infertility. Zinc supplementation has been shown to significantly increase the percentage of normal sperm morphology, sperm motility and semen volume.
Various lycopene supplementation studies have shown promising results in alleviating male infertility. The research has shown that supplementation decreased cell and DNA damage, while sperm count and viability, and general immunity were increased. Lycopene directly influences the morphology, and hence the functionality of the sperm. This means that the shape of the sperm is adequate enough to effectively fertilize the egg.
This supplement in particular needs more research in order to determine it’s full impact on sperm quality. However, some studies have suggested that vitamin B6 makes sure that sperm is healthy and mobile.
Increased levels of folic acid lead to higher sperm count and better sperm motility. Recent studies have also suggested that when participants consumed folic acid and zinc together, sperm count increased by 75% in partially fertile men.
Selenium is an essential supplement for sperm function and overall quality. Selenium aids in ensuring adequate growth and size of sperm. When sperm reaches an appropriate size, it has a greater chance of reaching and fertilizing the egg. Additionally, selenium influences the movement and speed of sperm as well. What’s more, the combination of selenium with vitamin E has been shown to decrease damage from free radicals and improve sperm motility in infertile men.
And best of all, all of these active ingredients are included in Vivalex FertZ.