Thinking of having a baby? Studies have noted a trend in the decrease of sperm count. Men in the United States, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have demonstrated sperm counts that have fallen more than 50% over the last four decades.8 The study did not determine the forefront reason for the exponential decline, but certain experts have noted the connection between the increase of plastics and contaminants in our environment and sperm count (in humans and dogs who share our homes, workplaces, etc.).
For men who look forward to bringing a bundle of joy into the world, it’s important to ensure that sperm count is optimal (15 million sperm per mL and above is ideal; anything below can lead to fertility issues1). This vital factor is key for fertility and achieving pregnancy. It has been reported that approximately 40% to 50% of all infertility cases are due to male factor infertility.2 Here are a few supplements to consider that have been shown to help support a healthy sperm count.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Get your sunshine! Vitamin D has been shown in multiple studies to improve fertility,3 while calcium deficiency has been linked with male infertility issues. You can get vitamin D from generous sun exposure (roughly 10 minutes of exposure while wearing a bathing suit), as well as foods like milk and mushrooms. Calcium is also found in milk and other dairy products, and both supplements are available as nutritional supplements.
Fenugreek is an aromatic plant that has been shown in studies to protect the testes against toxicity with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.4 Another study showed that fenugreek improved sperm profile by raising testosterone levels.4
This small plant has been shown in one study to help increase sperm count and motility.5 Ashwagandha was also shown to increase sperm count 167% in a study of 46 men who either took the supplement or placebo for 90 days.6
Fatty acids (like those found in fish such as salmon and eggs) has been shown to enhance sperm count. In a randomized study of 238 infertile men supplemented with EPA and DHA (omega-3), it was shown that the supplements significantly improved total sperm count.7
Whatever the cause, today’s men are half as fertile as their predecessors, and when compounded with lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking, obesity, stress, and dietary considerations, it becomes very important to achieve and maintain the best possible sperm count and overall sperm health. Ask your healthcare practitioner for more ways to help accomplish this.
Cooper T, Noonan E, von Eckardstein S, Auger J, Baker HW, Haugen T, et al. World Health Organization reference values for human semen characteristics. Hum Reprod Update. 2010 May-Jun;16(3):231-45.
Kumar N, Singh A. Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2015 Oct-Dec; 8(4): 191–196.
Arab A, Hadi A, Moosavian SP, Askari G, Nasirian M. The association between serum vitamin D, fertility and semen quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Surg. 2019 Nov;71:101-109
Nageh, Heba & Elrayess, Ranwa. (2018). Mini Review Evaluation of Trigonella Foenum Graecum L. (Fenugreek) Seeds Efficiency in Enhancing Male Reproductive Health. 4.
Ahmad MK, Mahdi AA, Shukla KK, Islam N, Rajender S, Madhukar D, Shankhwar SN, Ahmad S. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril. 2010 Aug;94(3):989-96.
Vijay R. Ambiye, Deepak Langade, Swati Dongre, Pradnya Aptikar, Madhura Kulkarni, Atul Dongre. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013.
Safarinejad M, Safarinejad S. The roles of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in idiopathic male infertility. Asian J Androl. 2012 Jul; 14(4): 514–515.
Levine H, Jørgensen, Martino-Andrade, Mendiola J, Weksler-Derri D, Mindlis I, Pinotti R, Swan SH, Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Hum Reprod Update. 2017 Nov 1;23(6):646-659.