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Effective Strategies for Improving Male Fertility

An image of a man talking with his doctorAre you struggling to conceive a child? Male fertility is an issue that few people talk about, but it is more common than you might think. The key to overcoming these difficulties and starting your family is to get help as soon as possible if you think you may have an issue. There are several factors that can influence your reproductive health, including chemical exposure and medications. And your doctor can do several tests to determine which factors, if any, are affecting your fertility. This article covers this and additional steps you can take to start improving your fertility today.

What is Male Fertility?

Male fertility refers to the ability to get someone pregnant without medical interventions. If you’re infertile, then you may have a poor chance of ever getting a woman pregnant. Male infertility can be related to semen quality or to sexual function. Some of the issues that can cause infertility in men are:

  • Erectile dysfunction, where someone can’t get or maintain an erection
  • Low sperm count
  • Poor sperm motility, which means that the sperm don’t swim very well
  • Low libido
  • Low levels of testosterone
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • Certain diseases
  • Testicular disease
  • Sperm transport disorders
  • Problems with the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland, the parts of the brain that tell the testicles to produce testosterone and sperm
  • Age

Many of these you can’t do anything about or require a doctor’s intervention. However, there are certain things that can impact your ability to fertilize an egg that you can do something about. These include:

  • Diet
  • Exercise levels
  • General fitness
  • Chemical exposure

Why Sperm Is Essential to Male Fertility

Healthy sperm is absolutely essential for male fertility and problems in this area are some of the most common causes of male infertility.

The health of sperm depends on:

  • How they move, or motility, which allows them to travel through the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes to reach an egg.
  • Quantity, with the normal range being at least 15 million sperm per milliliter in a single ejaculation.
  • Morphology or structure, or the shape of the sperm, which should have oval heads and long tails.

Chemicals and Male Fertility

There are certain chemicals that you encounter every day that may be devastating for male fertility. These are known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), or forever chemicals, because they don’t break down in the environment or in the human body. Instead, they accumulate, doing more and more damage over time.

PFAS may interfere with fertility as well as your hormone levels. They may also severely impact male reproductive organs, impacting semen quality and reducing testicular volume and penile length.

Unfortunately, you probably can’t avoid these chemicals completely as they’re found in almost everything, including:

  • Plastic food wrapping
  • Carpeting
  • Cleaning products
  • Soaps
  • Fragrances
  • Waterproof clothes
  • Plastic containers
  • Shampoos
  • Electronics
  • Some contaminated water sources
  • Certain foods like fish caught in contaminated water

How to Avoid PFAS

You probably can’t completely eliminate PFAS from your diet or your lifestyle, because they really are found in everything. However, you can make healthier choices that will help lower or limit your exposure to these chemicals.

An image of a man sitting on his bed thinking

  • When it comes to food, eat organic as much as you can to prevent intake of PFAS in your diet
  • When it comes to cosmetics, you need to avoid products that contain PTFE or ‘fluoro’ in their ingredients list.
  • You also need to be careful when it comes to textiles and make sure they have PFC or PFAS-free labels.

Identifying Causes of Male Fertility Issues

If you’re struggling with fertility, then you need to talk to a urologist, a type of doctor that specializes in male fertility and other things to do with male organs. A urologist will do a physical exam and ask you about:

  • Medications you take
  • Previous surgeries
  • Your activity levels
  • Whether you smoke or do drugs
  • Your sexual history, including whether you’ve had any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Once that’s completed, your urologist will probably also order some tests including:

A Sperm and Semen Analysis

You will probably need to give a sperm sample, as a low sperm count and abnormal sperm are some of the most common causes of male infertility. During the testing, the testers will count the sperm, and examine their shape, movement, and motility. You may also have to repeat the test just to confirm the results.

Hormone Tests for Male Fertility

Male fertility is governed by testosterone and other hormones, so you will probably need to have these tested. However, this is a fairly rare cause of infertility, so the problem is likely to be somewhere else.

Anti-Sperm Antibodies

If you make sperm but it isn’t getting to the egg, then it may because of antibodies. Some men have abnormal antibodies that attack sperm before it gets to the egg, so you may need to be tested for these.

Genetic Testing

There are certain genetic issues that can be a barrier to fertility or cause problems with sperm.

How to Improve Male Fertility

If your doctor says that there’s a problem with your sperm, then there are things you can do at home to help. Some strategies that help improve the chances of producing healthy sperm are:

Exercise Regularly

Exercising regularly will not only improve your overall health, but it may also increase your testosterone levels and semen quality.

Eat Well

Eating healthy will help you maintain a healthy weight range, which has been shown to improve male fertility. It will also help ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need to function at your best. Some of the most essential nutrients for male sexual health are:

Supplements for Male Fertility

If you’re struggling to get the nutrients you need from your food, then you may want to think about supplementing. Some helpful supplements for male fertility are:

  • Antioxidants
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Glutathione
  • Chlorella

Always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement regimen, as many supplements can backfire or have contraindications.

Quit Your Bad Habits

Drinking alcohol and smoking can both negatively impact male fertility, so cut down or stop doing both of these completely.

Manage Stress

Stress can interfere with the hormones that govern fertility, decrease sexual function, and lower your libido. So try to manage your stress better with yoga or meditation.

Protect Yourself

An image of medical equipment next to vials of blood with STI-Test on themSexually transmitted infections (STIs) are an often ignored cause of male infertility. So do what you can to protect yourself against infections and get them treated immediately if you do contract an STI.

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Medications

There are certain medications that can impact your fertility. Talk to your doctor if you’re taking:

  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Opioids
  • Anti-androgens
  • Illicit drugs

Limit Toxin Exposure

Try to avoid being exposed to toxins, particularly PFAS. And if you are exposed to toxins regularly as part of your daily life, then try to do it safely by wearing protective equipment and avoiding skin contact with chemicals.

Male Fertility and Detoxing

If you’re concerned about the chemicals in your body, then you may try a gentle detox regimen. Be very careful if you do a detox, and always talk to your doctor first to ensure that you are healthy enough for a detox and it is an appropriate plan for your body. Many drastic detox protocols can actually release more stored toxins into your body than it can remove, causing a retox reaction and severe symptoms.

Improve Liver Health

Your liver is the body’s center for detoxification, and when it’s unhealthy, toxins will build up in your body. So, if you want to help your body rid itself of toxins, then focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet that supports liver health.

Sauna

Saunas make you sweat, which can help with detoxification, so if you’re looking for an easy way to detox, then consider spending time in a sauna regularly.

Vegetable Juicing

If you’re struggling to get all the nutrients you need, then try juicing some vegetables and drinking them instead as a way to add additional nutrients into your diet.

Fertility and Chronic Stress

Both men and women who experience chronic stress frequently experience fertility problems due to hormonal imbalances and because of the effects of cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and it’s released from the adrenal glands when you’re stressed. It is part of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response, which activates during stressful periods and makes changes throughout your body that helps you survive the stressor.

When you’re stressed, reproduction is a low priority for the body, which is why fertility drops when the NEM stress response is active. In the past, stress was a short-term event, like an animal attack. During the attack, the NEM stress response would activate until the potential victim survived, and then shut down again, allowing reproductive function and everything else to return to normal.

But this isn’t true in the modern world, where stress tends to be ongoing. This results in the constant activation of the NEM stress response as well as ongoing low fertility for many men and women. If you’re struggling with ongoing stress, then this might be a factor in any male fertility problems. It can lead to Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), where the body can't keep up with the demand for cortisol, which shares many cofactors with reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Imbalances in the Hormone Circuit may also be implicated in this problem, so it’s worth talking to a doctor who’s aware of AFS about this issue.

The Hormone Circuit and Male Fertility

The Hormone Circuit consists of the thyroid, the testes, and the adrenal glands, and it’s one of the first circuits to be affected when you have AFS. This circuit is also responsible for the balance of the many hormones in the human body and performs its duties through the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis.

An image of the male testesDuring periods of stress, fertility isn’t important and so the reproductive organs slow down, and hormone levels change to decrease both libido and fertility. When stress is ongoing, this shift in the Hormone Circuit becomes long-term, affecting the health of the testes as well as ongoing fertility.

The components of the Hormone Circuit are closely connected. They produce hormones that all require similar nutrients and cofactors such as vitamin C and pregnenolone, for example. So when these resources are required to produce large amounts of cortisol, they are not available for other needed hormones. This leads to malfunctions in the Hormone Circuit as a whole. This situation can severely impact overall health.

It is also important to be aware of your AFS and Hormone Circuit health when you’re adopting strategies to improve any infertility issues. AFS causes many interconnected issues, so normally positive strategies can backfire, like over-exercising or taking certain supplements, for example. This is why it is essential that, if you have AFS and struggle with male fertility, you talk to a doctor aware of AFS to ensure that the strategies you adopt will benefit your health rather than making it worse.

The Takeaway

Male fertility is an often-ignored problem. It’s also one that can cause a lot of shame and frustration in your relationship as a whole. That’s why you need to seek out professional help. This is an important step in your journey to making your own family, whatever that looks like. Here’s how to do that:

  1. See your doctor and honestly discuss your concerns.
  2. Make changes to improve your health by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding PFASs, and quitting bad habits like smoking and alcohol.
  3. Work to detoxify your body and rid it of toxins through strategies such as improving liver health, spending time in a sauna, and vegetable juicing.

If you are looking for more help dealing with male fertility problems or chronic stress, you can talk to our team for a free consultation at +1 (626) 571-1234 or click here.

© Copyright 2023 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Male fertility is an issue that can cause embarrassment and frustration for couples who are trying to start a family. If you’re concerned about your fertility, then it’s time to talk to your doctor and get tested for answers. Making changes like improving your diet, exercise, stress levels, and avoiding certain chemicals may help as well.

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