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Treatment for Male Infertility

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 5/18/2010

Most cases of male infertility are due to a low sperm count. Learn what risk factors are believed to be the culprit and what natural treatment for male infertility can help increase sperm production.

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    Treatment for Male Infertility

    Sperm penetrating an egg during fertilization. It only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg. Even though a man ejaculates millions of sperms, only a very small number will reach the vicinity of an egg.

    In the U.S., male infertility affects about 6% of men, 15-50 years old. The vast majority of men who are infertile have a low sperm count (5 million/ml or less) and 90% of those, the cause is unknown.

    Because of a downward trend in sperm count, it is speculated that environmental, dietary, and lifestyle changes in recent years may be interfering with a man's ability to produce sperm. The average sperm count has declined by 40% since 1940 (from 113 million/ml in 1940 to 66 million/ml in 1990). The amount of semen also fell about 20%, (from 3.4 ml to 2.75% ml).[1]

    Treatment for male infertility include the following:

    • Free radical or oxidative damage to sperm is thought to be a cause of low sperm count of unknown reasons. Smoking is a common source of oxidants and should be avoided. Pollution can also contribute to a low sperm count. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and selenium can protect sperm against damage.

    • Vitamin B 12 helps increase sperm counts. In one study[2], 6,000 mcg of vitamin B 12 was given to men with a low sperm count daily. 57% demonstrated improvement.

    • Zinc is an important mineral for male infertility. Men with a low sperm count should eat foods high in zinc (including whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes) and take a supplement (45-60 mg daily).

    • Avoid saturated fats, trans fatty acids, and hydrogenated oils.

    • Scrotal temperature is normally 94-96 degrees fahrenheit. Temperatures above 96 can cause a low sperm count by stopping sperm production. Scrotal temperature can be raised when exercising, like jogging. You don't have to quit exercising, just wear appropriate attire and give the scrotum a little cooling down afterwards. Avoid tight-fitting underwear, shorts, and jeans, hot tubs, saunas, and electric blankets.

    • Infections (like chlamydia) in the genitourinary tract can cause male infertility. Once treated, a man's sperm count should increase tremendously.

    • Between 1945 and 1971, several million pregnant women (with gestational diabetes or who were likely to miscarry) received a synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol (DES). In 1970, studies began to show side effects (including a low sperm count and a decrease in semen volume) in males who were born from mothers that took DES. Many synthetic estrogens like DES had since been outlawed; however, some livestock (especially dairy cows) are still given these estrogens. Avoid hormone-fed animal products.

    • According to animal studies, panax ginseng may also be an effective treatment for male infertility.

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    References

    • [1] British Med J 305 (1992): 609-13
    • [2] Acta Urol Japan 34 (1988): 1109-32
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