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When it comes to the reproductive health of men, there is no other topic more crucial than their ability to produce sperm. To put succinctly, sperm is the male reproductive cell produced and secreted by testes, the male reproductive organ. Normally, a healthy male produces 15 million sperms per ml of semen. If this count falls below this threshold, it may lead to sexual problems like low libido or sex drive, inflammation of testicles, even infertility.
According to the NHS, there could be several reasons for a low sperm count including hormonal abnormalities, injuries, excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs and certain health conditions.
So, the best way to improve your sperm count is by making some healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle.
This article comprises of all those remedies that may aid you in improving your sperm count naturally and without the need for medications.

  1. How low sperm count effects fertility
  2. Home remedies to increase your sperm count
  3. Food to increase sperm count
  4. Herbs to increase sperm count
  5. Tips to increase sperm count

Before we get into the methods to improve sperm count, let us learn a bit about how sperm actually affects a man’s reproductive health.

An average ejaculation (process of discharge of semen) contains about 30,000,000 sperms. Out of this, only one sperm fertilizes ovum or egg (female reproductive cell). Each sperm carries its unique genetic information, which contributes to genetic information of the zygote. Therefore, both sperm quality and quantity is important for fertilization and formation of zygote. Sperm quality along with quantity typically decreases with age in humans. We require such a huge amount of sperm because this will increase the chances of fertilization. There is a lot of probability that sperm won't reach the egg for fertilization. These chances decrease further in case of oligospermia or low sperm count, making it difficult to conceive or have a baby. So, if you are finding it difficult to get a child even after trying, it is best that you check in with a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

So, you got a test and are sure that a low sperm count is what is keeping you from conceiving. You are even aware of the underlying condition. But, before you get yourself hooked to needles or take prescribed drugs, here are some easy-to-follow home concoctions you can try first:

  • Fenugreek: Among various natural remedies, fenugreek has copious research backing its positive impact on increasing sperm count. In an experiment  80 oligospermia patients in the age group, 20-30 were given a regular dose of fenugreek for four months. Significant improvement in sperm count was noted in all individuals at the end of the treatment. The study concluded that fenugreek oil could be one of the most effective and safest ways to treat male infertility problems. It is also one of the cheapest and easily available herbs that are available in various forms in the market. 
  • Maca root (Lepidium meyenii): Maca is a cruciferous vegetable, which is traditionally used for improving the overall health and vitality. One of its most effective benefits of this root is curing infertility problems in men, especially if have low sperm count or sperm health issue. Clinical studies indicate that regular intake of maca (1.75g/day) shows significant improvement in male fertility within the first 12 weeks of administration. It also improves libido.
    Maca root is usually consumed in the form of a powder. However, if you are not fond of its taste you can always add it in your smoothies, pies or cookies.
  • Garlic (Allium sativum): Daily consumption of a few garlic cloves can affect your reproductive health in miraculous ways. According to a systematic review published in the Journal of Herbmed  Pharmacology, garlic has a direct effect on improving spermatogenesis (sperm production). It also increases the levels of testosterone and corrects abnormalities in testicular structure, which are two of the most common causes of low sperm count in men.
    The cherry on top is the fact it doesn't have any side effects and is also easily available in the kitchen. Furthermore, garlic is rich in antioxidants, which play a vital role in neutralizing the various free radicals in the body. This reduces oxidative stress and improves overall health, thereby increasing fertility.
  • Velvet bean (Mucuna Pruriens): Velvet bean seed powder is a great remedy to treat and enhance semen quality and improve libido. It also lessens psychological impotence and is effective in cases of low sperm count due to stress. Its mechanism of work is by improving steroidogenesis (conversion of cholesterol into hormones like testosterone) and production of other hormones.
  • Talmakhana: Also known as Hydrophilia, Talmakhana is a great snack that has numerous medicinal and nutritional properties. This plant has long since been used as a rejuvenating tonic in traditional medicine and is mentioned as an aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic literature. Animal studies suggest that talmakhana improves reproductive health and promotes spermatogenesis, thus improving the total sperm count.

You must have heard the famous saying "we are what we eat". Indeed out diet and nutrient intake plays a huge role in ascertaining out health. This also holds true for reproductive health. Here is a list of various food that directly affects the quality and quantity of your sperm and consequently improves your sexual and reproductive health:

  • Antioxidant-rich food: One of the main reasons for a decrease in sperm count is the presence of high levels of reactive oxygen species in seminal fluids. This leads to a decrease in the number of sperm cells and damages their genetic material. Hence taking antioxidant-rich food helps in improving and balancing sperm count. Several clinical trials demonstrate the effectiveness of oral intake of antioxidants in improving sperm count. Some foods that are a rich source of antioxidants are dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kale, red cabbage, beans, beetroot, and spinach. Green tea is considered the World's healthiest drink and is one of the richest sources of antioxidants.
  • Vitamins C rich food: Foods which are rich in vitamins are really good for sperm health. In an experiment with 13 infertile men, who were given doses of vitamin c or ascorbic acid twice a day for 2 months, the results showed great improvement in the sperm count. Vitamin C improved sperm motility and morphology as well. Vitamin C rich food includes tomatoes, guava, and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin D rich food: Studies show that Vitamin D helps in sound functioning of testicles including hormone production and spermatogenesis. It also affects the quality of semen and sperm motility. So, if you have a low sperm count, the consumption of vitamin D can give you massively improved. Some foods that have a good amount of vitamin D and that you can easily add to your diet are cheese, egg yolk, fish, orange juice and other dairy product.
  • Zinc-rich food: Zinc is an essential mineral, especially for male fertility. Zinc can’t be stored in the body so we need to take it regularly in our diet. It is a hormone balancer and affects testosterone level and acrosome reaction directly. It also affects sperm count. So, taking zinc-rich foods may aid you in improving semen parameters including sperm count. Some foods that are high in zinc are meat, legumes, nuts, dairy products, egg, whole grains, shellfish, etc.
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng and can be a great option for improving your sexual health and function.  Studies show that Ashwagandha root is highly beneficial in the treatment of oligospermia. It can improve sperm count by 167%. with 53% improvement in semen value. Improved semen quality increases sperm quality gradually by providing it with all the required nutrients. If the quality of the sperm is good, it will have a good chance to fertilize the egg.
  • Panax ginseng (Chinese ginseng): Ginseng is probably the most well-known herbs for improving health and vitality. But did you know that it also improves sperm count and testosterone levels? Research studies suggest that ginseng hosts an array of biologically active compounds which boost sperm production. and enhance sperm motility(which helps sperm to move towards egg properly). Also, it improves acrosome (organelle at the head of sperm that helps with fertilization) reaction by enhancing nitric oxide production and helps ameliorate in erection problems.
  • Shilajit: Shilajit is a mineral compound found in the Himalayan region in fossilized reserves. It is a great aphrodisiac or love drug, which makes your sex sensuous and fulfilling.
    Clinical studies indicate that regular consumption of shilajit helps increase total sperm count and the amount of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in men, which is responsible for the proper functioning of the male reproductive system. According to a study published in Ayurlog: National Journal of Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, shilajit helps reduce the levels of malondialdehyde (a biological compound) in semen by 18.7%. This compound is otherwise responsible for increased oxidative stress and DNA damage in sperms.
    It also improved testosterone levels which eventually increased sexual desire.
  • Tribulus: Plants of Tribulus group help a lot in improving sexual health. They have a tremendously positive effect on sex hormone levels and semen quality. Eventually, these help in maintaining sperm quality and quantity. It also helps in decreasing body fat, which is a major cause of low sperm count.
  • Palmetto: Palmetto is a great home remedy to treat oligospermia. Intake of palmella improves the quality of sperm by enhancing DNA integrity. It also helps in better penetration of sperm in oocyte or egg. It has been found that other home remedies like Echinacea purpurea and Ginkgo Biloba improves the quantity of sperm but may affect its penetration on oocyte. But, Palmetto has no such side effects. It also helps in inflammation in the case of prostatic inflammation.

Apart from these home remedies, you should follow the below-mentioned tips for better results-

  • Improve your lifestyle: Your lifestyle hugely affect your sperm count. You need to make some changes to your daily routine and avoid certain things. The most important one is that if you smoke then quit it right now. Smoking has a seriously negative impact on sperm count.  It also affects the DNA of sperm and damages the acrosome. This is because cigarette components have a high level of superoxide anion and hydroxyl radical which are detrimental to sperm health.
    Apart from cigarette, alcohol also adversely affects sperm count. Alcohol lowers the testosterone level in men. It can be a reason for the loss of libido leading to impotence
  • Maintain a healthy weight: For healthy sperms, you need to have a healthy body. If your BMI is too low then you need to work on it. Get yourself into a healthy diet and try eating more. Increasing your weight doesn't mean that you need to eat only fatty food. A healthy body needs a balanced diet. Apart from fat and carbs, focus on vitamins, minerals, and fiber rich food.
    Also, keep yourself hydrated. Drink a good amount of water every day. You can also add milk and various juices in your diet.
    Some foods that can help you are walnuts, citrus fruits, banana, broccoli, and whole wheat. 
  • Exercising: Being overweight can interfere with hormone production and hence can affect your sperm count. It also changes sperm function and its molecular composition. An obese body can get trapped into more health disorders which can gradually affect your long term reproductive health. Even if you are not overweight, you need to go for exercises. Exercising doesn't just mean going to the gym or jogging only. You can choose any of your favorite physical activity. You can go swimming or just play football.  Remember, a good lifestyle will boost your sperm count and quality.
  • Avoid non-human estrogen: Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone Intake of a high amount of estrogen can majorly affect sperm levels and testosterone levels in men. You need to avoid the intake of food materials that contain a high amount of estrogen. Some of these food include flaxseed, soy, red wine, etc
  • Keep your testicles cool: Testicles are the reproductive organs that store sperm and produce testosterone. They hang outside the body covered with a skin fold called scrotum. This is because they need to be cooler than normal body temperature. But due to the lifestyle and clothing pattern these days, the scrotum is packed and doesn't get the opportunity to cool down. This is a big cause of decreased sperm count, If you too are fond of those skin-tight jeans you may need to make some changes in our wardrobe as well. The most important change is to choose your clothing wisely. Wear underwear that allows air to pass through it. Try wearing cotton underwear. Cotton is the best material to cover our body. It not only helps in ventilation but also absorbs sweat.  Apart from underwear, wear loose pants. Try avoiding tight jeans. If at home, try wearing loose shorts.
    ​Some other changes that are required are;
    • Avoid keeping laptops on your lap while using them. Laptop gets hot and increases the temperature around your testicles.
    • Avoid going for a hot shower or sauna baths. Shower daily but try using cold water.
    • You can also use testicular cooling devices for the same purpose as well.

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References

  1. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Low sperm count
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  3. Melnikovova I, Fait T, Kolarova M, Fernandez EC, Milella L.Effect of Lepidium meyenii Walp. on Semen Parameters and Serum Hormone Levels in Healthy Adult Men: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. 2015;2015:324369. PMID: 26421049.
  4. Chauhan NS, Sharma V, Dixit VK. Effect of Asteracantha longifolia seeds on the sexual behaviour of male rats.2011 Sep;25(15):1423-31. PMID: 19753500
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  8. Ambiye VR, Langade D, Dongre S, Aptikar P, Kulkarni M, Dongre A. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. 2013 Nov 28. PubMed PMID: 24371462
  9. Calogero AE, Condorelli RA, Russo GI, La Vignera S. Conservative Nonhormonal Options for the Treatment of Male Infertility: Antibiotics, Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, and Antioxidants. 2017;2017:4650182. PMID: 28164122
  10. Athanasios Valavanidis, Thomais Vlachogianni, and Konstantinos Fiotakis. Tobacco Smoke: Involvement of Reactive Oxygen Species and Stable Free Radicals in Mechanisms of Oxidative Damage, Carcinogenesis and Synergistic Effects with Other Respirable Particles. 2009 Feb; 6(2): 445–462. PMID: 19440393
  11. Palmer NO, Bakos HW, Fullston T, Lane M. Impact of obesity on male fertility, sperm function and molecular composition. 2012 Oct 1;2(4):253-263. PMID: 23248766
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