With millions of new sperm produced everyday it’s reasonable to expect a strong turnover of healthy cells if you are looking after your body. However, many men are unaware that it takes three months for sperm to fully develop and mature.
This means that how you treat you body during that time will influence the health of your sperm once it has matured. Armed with this knowledge, men can make informed choices to benefit their fertility.
Sperm development follows a series of complex processes involving phases of cell divisions and differentiations. Throughout this development, sperm needs access to certain nutrients, amino acids, hormones, enzymes and other essential compounds to ensure healthy development.
At the same time, sperm needs to be safeguarded from oxidative stress which can significantly disrupt development and maturation.
Only in the finally maturation stages within the epididymis does the sperm gain fertility and mobility. This entire process takes three months to complete. Although within the testes there are thousands of tubules all busily producing sperm at different maturation stages and there is always mature sperm available, fertility can fluctuate.
While the sperm matures it is subjected to the same conditions as the rest of the body experiences. Thus, fertility can be hampered by certain lifestyle influences such as excessive heat, insufficient nutrition, drug use, and illness, among other factors.
Although it may not be possible to pinpoint the exact cause(s) for infertility, there are measures men can take to try and lift fertility. Making positive, healthy lifestyle choices will be beneficial for sperm development and maturation.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that because sperm take approximately three months to mature, these positive changes won’t have an immediate effect.
To maximize fertility, men will need to wait three months after committing to positive lifestyle adjustments.
Why Arginine is important for male fertility
Men wanting to improve their fertility are encouraged to boost their intake of arginine. This is a vital amino acid for many processes within the body, including the production and maturation of healthy sperm.
Arginine is critical for the production of spermin, an essential compound that stabilises and protects sperm DNA. Sperm cell division and motility also rely on the presence of spermin. Thus, boosting the availability of arginine can significantly improve sperm health via higher spermin activity.
In addition to producing spermin, arginine is also essential for producing nitric oxide (NO). This gas regulates vascularity and is therefore fundamental for blood circulation. In addition to improving the delivery of nutrients and oxygen through optimising NO availability, this improved circulation also supports stronger erections. Thus, arginine is indirectly involved in remedying erectile dysfunction and improving fertility.
Increasing Arginine levels
Although the body can produce its own supply of arginine there are instances where demand can exceed supply. In these situations, arginine becomes a conditionally essential amino acid.
Poor nutrition, illness, prolonged stress, drug use; all these factors will diminish arginine reserves and negatively impact fertility. By consuming more foods rich in this amino acid, it’s possible to boost availability and better support sperm health.
Some rich food sources of arginine include red meat, nuts, leafy greens, legumes, soy products, whole grains, seafood, pulses and eggs. There are also many supplements available that are formulated to enhance arginine supply.
The top male fertility supplements
- “Esteves S.C. et. al. (2012). Critical appraisal of world health organization’s new reference values for human semen characteristics and effect on diagnosis and treatment of subfertile men, Urology, Volume 79 (pp. 16–22).” ↩
- “van der Steeg J.W. et. al. (2011). Role of semen analysis in subfertile couples, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 95 (pp. 1013–9).” ↩
- “Schachter, A., et al. (1973) Treatment of Oligospermia with the amino acid L-Arginine, Journal of Urology, Volume 110, Issue 3 (pp. 310-13).” ↩
- “Scibona M., et al. (1994) L-arginine and male infertility, The Italian Journal of Urology and Nephrology, Volume 46, Issue 4 (pp. 251-3).” ↩