I have a low sperm count. Can I do anything to increase my fertility?

Male infertility can result from several factors, including low sperm count, abnormal sperm shape or size, and reduced sperm motility. These abnormalities can result from both a male’s lifestyle and genetics. While it takes the fertilization of just one egg by one sperm to achieve pregnancy, there are millions of sperm in every ejaculate that never reach an egg. A typical ejaculation contains about 100 million sperm. A low sperm count is defined as fewer than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen. In order to maintain a healthy sperm count, make sure to avoid smoking cigarettes, decrease exposure to toxins such as pesticides, limit consumption of alcohol, and reduce activities that promote excessive heating of your scrotum—such as sitting in a hot bath or hot tub. Some studies have also shown that keeping a cell phone in a man’s pocket or computer on their lap may decrease  their sperm count by heating the testicles with electromagnetic frequencies. To maintain healthy sperm levels, it is also important to establish a healthy weight and diet and to remain physically active.

For natural methods to increase sperm count, some turn to acupuncture and nutrition. Acupuncture treatments focus on returning the entire body to a state of balance, in hopes that whole-body health (including sperm health) will increase in quality. Acupuncture may also help relieve stress, which can be correlated with a reduced sperm count. Adjusting a man’s  nutrition to increase sperm levels can include adding supplements, such as multi-vitamins, fish oil, and Selenium, to their diet. Selenium levels can be increased with the consumption of brazil nuts, liver, turkey, crimini mushrooms, and fish such as snapper, cod, halibut, tuna, salmon, sardines, and shrimp. Eating foods with zinc may also boost sperm levels. This mineral can be found in lamb, venison, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, green peas, and beef. Vitamin B (found in clams, oysters, eggs, beef, lamb, and cheese) and Vitamin C (found in plants and fruits, especially red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, and citrus fruits) are two vitamins that may help improve sperm count. Herbal tonics made with maca root, schisandra fruit and seed, tribulus, or ashwagandha root may also help increase sperm count. Men should reduce the intake of foods that mimic estrogen in the male body since these can throw off their natural hormone levels. Things that mimic estrogen—and should therefore be avoided—include soy foods, hormones added to dairy and meat, pesticides, and plastic seepage from bottles and food containers. It takes about three months for sperm to mature in the testes, so a change in diet may not have visible results for at least three to six months.  

There are also alternative methods to achieving pregnancy. A man should talk to their health care provider about surgery, medication, and hormone treatments that may help increase the chances of conception. One method is intrauterine insemination, in which the male provides the doctor with a sample of his semen. From this sample, the doctor separates the healthy sperm from the semen and then places these sperm directly into the female’s uterus. This increases the chance that sperm will successfully reach and fertilize an egg. In vitro fertilization is another option, in which the female’s eggs are removed and combined with sperm in a lab. Once fertilization has occurred, one or more fertilized eggs are placed into the female’s uterus in hopes that a pregnancy will result.