One of the most frustrating infertility problems is male infertility caused by low sperm count. Around half of the infertility problems encountered by couples are caused by male infertility. The most common form of male infertility is a low sperm count.
“Normal” sperm count, as defined by the World Health Organization, is characterized by:
- The concentration of spermatozoa should be at least 20 million per ml.
- The total volume of semen should be at least 2ml.
- The total number of spermatozoa in the ejaculate should be at least 40 million.
- At least 75 per cent of the spermatozoa should be alive (it is normal for up to 25 per cent to be dead).
- At least 30 per cent of the spermatozoa should be of normal shape and form.
- At least 25 per cent of the spermatozoa should be swimming with rapid forward movement.
- At least 50 per cent of the spermatozoa should be swimming forward, even if only sluggishly.
These numbers amount to averages; Having a sperm count below these numbers does not guarantee that a man will be unable to father a child; likewise, having a sperm count higher than these numbers does not guarantee that a man will be able to father a child.
There are a variety of factors that can cause low sperm count, including stress, genetic causes, nutritional deficiencies, the use of prescription or illicit drugs, obesity, varicoceles, infections, and smoking.
There are several things that may help increase sperm count, including:
- Exercise. Regular exercise will help reduce stress, but be careful. Excessive exercise can cause harm, as can certain exercises that may negatively impact the testicles, such as bicycling.
- Ejaculating less often. The more often a man ejaculates, the less dense the semen will be. Maintain a gap of three days between ejaculations.
- Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Massage body with herbal oil, which may improve blood circulation.
- Have sex in the early morning or afternoon. It is believed that sperm levels are often highest in the morning.
- Avoid tight underwear, saunas, and whirlpools, all of which may increase the temperature of the testicles.
- Use natural supplements and vitamins that may assist with sperm count.
- Maintain a high protein, low fat diet, rich in vegetables and whole grains. Avoid bitter and spicy foods.
There are also a variety of vitamin supplements that may assist with low sperm count. They include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12 Selenium
- Zinc Arginine
There are several dietary measures that a man who has a low sperm count can take to attempt to increase his sperm count, including:
- Eat a diet that includes whole, unprocessed foods. The best foods for health in general, and also for sperm count problems, are whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
- Eliminate alcohol intake. In addition to the general nutritional benefits of avoiding alcohol, avoiding alcohol may also assist with sexual performance issues.
- Identify and avoid food allergies.
- Raw sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds have been shown to help with male fertility. It is recommended that a man with a low sperm count eat 1/4 cup of raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds each day.
- Drink at least 48 ounces of water every day.
- When possible, try to eat organic foods. Some studies suggest a connection between chemical fertilizers and pesticides with both male and female infertility.
As you can see, many of these dietary changes are not only useful in increasing sperm count, many of them just make nutritional sense as well!