Natural Treatments for Infertility in Men
Naturopathic treatment of male infertility focuses on improving sperm quantity, sperm quality, and overall male reproductive health. Researchers reported that sperm counts have fallen almost 50% since the 1930s. Although some dispute these findings, it is generally accepted that sperm counts are declining. The reason appears to be environmental and dietary. Lifestyle changes are interfering with men's sperm production. If this is so, improving diet and making healthy lifestyle choices should positively impact male reproductive health.
Infertility & Nutrition
The importance of a healthy diet cannot be overstated. To function properly, the male reproductive system requires the proper vitamins and minerals. Nutritional deficiencies can impair hormone function, inhibit sperm production, and contribute to the production of abnormal sperm.
- Eat a natural foods diet that focuses on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Drink half of body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., a 200 lb man would drink 100 oz of water).
- Eliminate processed and refined foods (e.g., white flour, junk food, sugars), alcohol, and caffeine.
- Avoid saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (e.g., margarine); use olive oil.
- Pumpkin seeds are naturally high in zinc and essential fatty acids which are vital to healthy functioning of the male reproductive system. Eat 1/4 to 1/2 cup a day of pumpkin seeds to help maintain a healthy reproductive system.
Infertility & Dietary Supplements
The following supplements have been shown to increase sperm count and/or motility. Allow 3-4 months for the supplements to work.
- Arginine—Take 4 gr daily. Needed to produce sperm. If the sperm count is below 10 million per ml, arginine probably will not provide any benefit.
- Coenzyme Q10—Take 10 mg daily. Increases sperm count and motility.
- Flaxseed oil—Take 1 tbsp daily. Is a source of essential fatty acids.
- L-carnitine—Take 3–4 grams daily. Required for normal sperm function.
- Multivitamin-mineral—Buy a high-quality product and take one serving size (differs from brand to brand).
- Selenium—Take 200 mcg daily. Improves sperm motility.
- Vitamin B-12—Take 1000 mcg daily. A B-12 deficiency reduces sperm motility and sperm count. Even if no deficiency exists, B-12 supplementation may help men with a sperm count of less than 20 million per milliliter or a motility rate of less than 50%.
- Vitamin C—Take 500 mg 2 times daily. Is an antioxidant.
- Vitamin E—Take 400 IUs 2 times daily. Is an antioxidant and improves sperms' ability to impregnate.
- Zinc—Take 30 mg 2 times daily. Required for a healthy male reproductive system and sperm production.
Infertility & Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicines rarely have significant side effects when prescribed by a Board-certified Specialist, and used appropriately and at suggested doses. Occasionally, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, it is recommended that only high-quality products be used. When using raw herbs, which are the most potent, fillers and binders are never used. As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.
The following herbs can be useful in treating male infertility:
- Ginseng (Panax ginseng)—Known as a male tonic (an agent that improves general health) and used to increase testosterone levels and sperm count. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) may also be used.
- Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)—Increases sperm motility.
- Sarsaparilla ( Smilax spp.)—Known as a male (and female) tonic.
- Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)—Used for overall male reproductive health.
Other Recommendations for Infertility
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased number of defective sperm.
- Consider acupuncture.
- Do not smoke. There is a close association between smoking and low sperm count, poor sperm motility, and abnormal sperm.
- Proxeed® is a new nutritional supplement that may improve sperm health and fertility rates. The ingredients include L-carnitine and acetylcarnitine, two vitamin-like substances synthesized naturally by the body. These chemicals are involved in cellular metabolism and are found in semen at a rate that is proportionate to the amount of healthy sperm. Proxeed® may improve sperm count, concentration, and motility when taken orally for about 2 months. Approximately 30% of couples using it experience pregnancy. It is available without a prescription, although couples considering using it should consult with a physician.