Cases of infertility in men often turn out to be caused by low sperm quality. The number of sperm cells in semen and their movement and appearance can be determined in a semen analysis (SA).
- 1 Mumps
- 2 Undescended testicles
- 3 Testicular varicose veins
- 4 Heat
- 5 Injuries to the testicles
- 6 Environmental toxins and guilty pleasures
- 7 Chemotherapy
- 8 Birth defects in the reproductive organs
- 9 Sterilisation
- 10 Chlamydia infections and other inflammations
- 11 Problems with ejaculation
- 12 Sperm antibodies
- 13 Obesity
- 14 Erectile Dysfunction
- 15 Globozoospermia
- 16 Improve your fertility with micronutrients
- 17 The most effective male fertility nutrients
- 18 The top male fertility supplements
If all key values (volume, count, motility, morphology) tested are affected, the man is known as having ‘OAT syndrome’ – oligoasthenoteratozoospermia – meaning low numbers of sperm cells, which move incorrectly and are abnormally shaped.
OAT syndrome has many possible causes, which are frequently difficult or impossible to diagnose. However, sometimes the reasons behind poor sperm cell movement or a low sperm count can be ascertained.
The good news is that the quality and number of moving sperm cells can be increased in a natural way in some cases by taking amino acid supplements (see the article on Arginine and male fertility).
Causes of male infertility are diverse, as can be seen in the following list:
If a man contracts mumps after starting puberty, it can result in inflammation of the testicles during the illness. This inflammation can then lead to infertility. Sperm production can often be completely absent after such an illness; in some luckier cases, fertility is only limited. A semen analysis test can give information on the extent of the damage caused by mumps.
When male embryos develop, the testicles normally move down from the abdomen to the scrotum. However, in some cases this movement does not occur. As sperm development requires a temperature of below 35 degrees centigrade, if the testicle is inside the stomach area or groin, it is simply much too warm. The result is much lower sperm quality.
Today, most boys with undescended testicles are treated in their first year of life in order to avoid infertility in the future.
In the same way that undescended testicles lead to infertility due to too high a temperature, general precautions must be taken to keep testicles cool. Activities to avoid or to take extra care with include sauna visits, tight clothing, heated seats in cars and using a laptop on your lap. In these cases, taking Arginine supplements could improve sperm cell number and quality, therefore increasing male fertility.
Testicular varicose veins
A swollen vein on the testicle can increase temperature to the extent that production of sperm is no longer at an optimum level. For this reason, an operation to remove the varicose vein is often recommended. However, urologists are not unified in the belief that operating to remove this vein definitely improves fertility. Treatment with Carnitine supplements, a substance similar to amino acids, is also a possibility.
High temperatures are harmful to the development of male reproductive cells. The testicles, as the productive organ of sperm cells, are therefore engineered to come closer to the body when experiencing low temperatures and to move away when it is warm. If sperm cells are only exposed to hot conditions for a short period of time, fertility is not measurably affected.
On the other hand, frequent visits to saunas, wearing tight trousers or using heated seats in the car on a regular basis can have temporary negative effects on sperm development. If you are trying to have children, it is thus best to avoid sources of extra heat such as these.
Injuries to the testicles
If the testicles are injured in an accident, it can lead to total infertility due to a lack of sperm production. However, if the injuries are only minor, fertility may only be affected slightly.
Environmental toxins and guilty pleasures
Although many concrete correlations between toxins and infertility remain unclear, it has been proven that some factors have negative effects on sperm production. Examples of factors which can either temporarily or permanently damage sperm quality include excess alcohol and cigarette consumption, many medicines and different environmental pollutants. When trying to have children, a healthy lifestyle usually has positive effects on fertility.
Many different drugs used in chemotherapy for treatment of cancer can have lasting effects on sperm cell productions. Sometimes infertility is only suffered for a short period of time after treatment, but in other cases it can be permanent. For this reason, it is advisable to think about freezing sperm cells before embarking on chemotherapy treatment, even if pregnancy is not a goal in the foreseeable future.
Birth defects in the reproductive organs
Some men suffer from reproductive birth defects, for example a lack of sperm production tissues in the testicles. In other men, tubes which transport the sperm cells are not fully formed, meaning that perfectly normal sperm cells cannot move out of the testicle. This particular defect often occurs in conjunction with cystic fibrosis. These defects can only be cured by an operation, if at all.
Some men who are certain that they do not want any more children opt for sterilisation, in which the spermatic cord is cut to prevent sperm leaving the penis. If a man who has undergone this procedure later decided that he wants another child, an operation to reverse the procedure can sometimes be successful.
Chlamydia infections and other inflammations
Inflammations caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis can lead to the very fine tubes in part of the testicle sticking together, preventing sperm from moving through the reproductive system. Bacteria like chlamydia which cause illness can also make poisonous substances which make newly created sperm have poor movement, for example. If only one testicle is affected, fertility will be reduced minimally.
Chlamydia infections are particularly malicious in that they often go unnoticed by men due to having few or no symptoms. Chlamydia often causes severe pain in women, but men experience almost no symptoms. Due to this lack of symptoms, chlamydia infections often go unnoticed in men, only being discovered if a doctor takes a swab or sample. This of course only occurs if the doctor is specifically checking for an infection.
If both sperm storage reservoirs of the testicles have been closed up due to infection, an operation to remove some sperm cells from the testicle can work in the quest for a child.
Problems with ejaculation
Some men are unable to ejaculate, either due to paralysis or other illnesses. In other cases, there are no sperm cells in the ejaculate, as they travel into the bladder rather than out of the body. Operations to rectify this are sometimes possible.
However, it is not just operable illnesses which cause this. Diabetes can also be a culprit in ejaculation problems.
Men do not normally produce antibodies against their own sperm cells because there is a natural barrier between the blood circulatory system and the place of production of sperm cells in the testicle. However, when sperm cells enter the circulatory system – either through injury or inflammation of the tubes they travel down – the immune system can make antibodies against them which make the male reproductive cells clump together.
Very overweight men usually produce less sexual hormones. But this male sex hormone is essential for proper development of sperm cells. Studies have shown that average sperm quality of overweight men is lower than that of men of normal weight or underweight men. These studies have also revealed that it is not just the number of sperm cells present which is affected, but also their movement –with both issues leading to lower fertility.
Problems in getting or maintaining an erection can indeed also be a cause of infertility. If a level of impotence is reached which means that no sex can occur in a partnership, having children will be impossible. Various nerve-related illnesses and metabolic problems can be the cause of erectile dysfunction, as can hormonal imbalances.
On the other hand, psychological problems can also be a reason for impotence. Taking supplements of the amino acid Arginine or other specially formulated products can assist with overcoming this.
Globozoospermia is the name given to the condition where sperm cells which have abnormally rounded heads with no pointed cap. As the sperm cell cap contain the enzyme needed for penetrating the egg, fertilisation is impossible without the cap. Globozoospermia is a condition present at birth which leads to life-long infertility.
In some cases, only surgical treatment can help. However, in cases of limited fertility with solely lower sperm cell numbers or lowered sperm quality, natural therapy with amino acids can be a sensible course of action. The great advantage of this is that erections will improve at the same time, and there are no side effects.
Here is an informative video, which summarises many of the points discussed above.
Are you looking for a natural method of increasing your sperm quality, number of sperm cells and hardness of your erection? Make sure you maximise your dietary intake of the amino acid Arginine and take a look at our big test of male fertility enhancers.
Improve your fertility with micronutrients
Several micronutrients such as vitamins, vitaminoids, amino acids and trace elements have proven themselves effective in improving sperm quantity, mobility and shape. This directly translates into better overall sperm quality and therefore a higher chance of pregnancy.
- relatively inexpensive
- effective after three to six months
- able to increase sperm motility by up to 23%, ejaculate volume by up to 33% and sperm count by up to 215%1
- without side effects
For those reasons, male fertility food supplements are most definitely recommended as the first step in the treatment of oligospermia and asthenospermia.
Also men who have not yet taken a semen analysis test will benefit from supplementing micronutrients to ensure they are able to deliver high-quality semen.
There are no contraindications or side effects to this form of natural ‘sperm boosting’.
An excellent and detailed overview of many studies can be found in Steven Sinclair’s Male Infertility: Nutritional and Environmental Considerations.
A considerable range of male fertility supplements available on the UK market.
However, the products differ widely in price and composition. Menfertility.org has compared 10 of them in terms of value for money and the nutrients they provide.
The most effective male fertility nutrients
A multitude of studies has shown that highly dosed nutrients have potentially significant impact on overall sperm quality.
Vitamin D has been shown to improve sperm count, motility and morphology6.
Vitamin B9, better known as folic acid has been shown to increase count, motility and morphology7.
Zinc improves the immune system and significantly improves sperm count in combination with folic acid8.
Sperm cells take 11 weeks to mature in the testicles. Only then they are ready for ejaculation.
If you adjust your diet today it will thus take three months for the better sperm to be ready for fertilisation.
You must therefore keep the diet or supplement on an ongoing basis – ideally until your partner is pregnant or you decide for a different treatment.
All of the male fertility supplements in our great test include several of these nutrients at once, albeit at a lower dose. This is a cost-effective and convenient way making this type of fertility therapy affordable and requiring taking only one all-in-one supplement instead of many.
To find out more about the effects of the individual nutrients and how the various supplements compare, please read menfertility.org’s male fertility supplement review.
The top male fertility supplements
- “Imhof, Martin et al., “Improvement of sperm quality after micronutritient supplementation”, e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Epub published ahead of print.” ↩
- “http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/5/1/28.pdf” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7701414” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12568837” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8085668” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21427118” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20978181” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11872201” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21403799” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12623744” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8862739” ↩