For a lot of men starting a family is a lifelong dream; but when years go by without any luck it can take an emotional toll on men and their spouses. Researchers estimate that twenty percent of all infertile couples have trouble conceiving due to physiological or hormonal problems in the male. The good news for many of these men is that fertility can be restored. Hormone therapy, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes are all shown to positively impact fertility, as we will discuss further on.
How Testosterone Determines Fertility
The testes begin to first produce sperm around age 12 through a process called a spermarche caused by the influx of T during puberty. Testosterone is one of many hormones involved in the chain of processes that control sperm production or spermatogenesis, without T, the sperm can’t reach maturity.
In the article “Testosterone signaling and the regulation of spermatogenesis”, professor of Reproductive Sciences Dr. William H. Walker writes, “Spermatogenesis and male fertility are dependent upon the presence of testosterone in the testis. In the absence of testosterone or the androgen receptor, spermatogenesis does not proceed beyond the meiosis stage.”
Low Testosterone and Fertility
Urologist and male fertility expert, Dr. Puneet Masson explains, “(Low T) can alter a man’s libido (and) affect sexual functioning—namely, erections. It can also affect the development of sperm.” He goes on to say that “Low testosterone can definitely affect a man who’s having difficulty achieving a pregnancy.”
An article published by Loma Linda University and Center for Fertility and IVF states: “Low testosterone’s indirect effect on fertility involves a reduced sex drive that can result in a lack of desire to even have sex. It can also cause erectile dysfunction (which can) make it difficult to reach climax or to have sex often enough for reproduction.”
Hypogonadism is seldom the lone culprit for low sperm count; however, it can contribute to decreased sperm production, especially when other factors are at play. Obesity and the use of tobacco, alcohol, and narcotics have all been shown to lower sperm production and negatively impact sperm motility, especially in men with low T.
Natural Methods to Boost Fertility
Increase Your Vitamin D Intake
Since its discovery in the 1920s, vitamin D has proven successful in treating ailments and boosting the immune system, but new research suggests it also plays a role in sperm health and motility.
The University of Copenhagen studied the effects of Vitamin D on male fertility by examining sperm samples of 300 healthy males and injecting vitamin D into a portion of the samples. The study concluded that the sperm which was exposed to vitamin D had higher calcium levels and better motility.
A similar study by the Università “Federico II” di Napoli revealed nearly identical results, stating, “the most consistent effect of vitamin D was reported on semen quality. Indeed, vitamin D was shown to be positively associated to sperm motility.”
People can up their vitamin D intake by consuming a dietary supplement, or absorb it through the skin by sitting in the sunlight (hence its nickname “the sunshine vitamin”). Evidence suggests that sunscreen can prevent absorption of vitamin D, so if you’re prone to sunburn you may want to stick with the pill form.
New research suggests that exercising just three times weekly can stimulate sperm production, scientists involved in this study attributed the increase in sperm count to a reduction in weight in the subjects studied. Other studies show a temporary increase in T serum levels following all types of exercise, though it’s thought that weight training had the most significant impact on levels.
To maximize your testosterone output, some professional trainers recommend that men lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions and minimize breaks taken during their workout—but men are warned not to over-do it either. Research shows that overtraining like which is seen with long-distance runners can have an adverse effect on T levels.
Take a Fenugreek Supplement
Many studies and clinical trials have praised fenugreek for its overwhelmingly positive effect on men’s sexual health. Though scientists still can’t explain why it works, they’ve found this herb to boost libido, T levels, and even sperm count. One study called fenugreek seed oil one of the most “effective (and) safest treatments” available.
Fertility and Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)
While testosterone therapy won’t cure your infertility, it can help to reverse the side effects of low T that make sexual reproduction more difficult (like sexual dysfunction and low libido, for instance). TRT should only be administered under medical supervision and after careful consideration by the patient and their physician.
Occasionally, TRT can have the opposite effect on sperm production, so freezing and storing sperm is sometimes suggested. Sermorelin, a medication typically used to treat growth hormone deficiency, can also prevent decreased sperm production in TRT patients who might be at risk. Sermorelin works by encouraging the pituitary gland to ramp up the body’s natural production of human growth hormone.
Studies involving HGH and animals have noted the hormone’s positive effect on the production and quality of sperm, HGH promotes the creation and maturation of sperm cells, improves sperm motility, and encourages the testes to produce higher volumes of seminal fluid. Since sermorelin therapy boosts the body’s production of GH and thus sperm, it can be very effective for maintaining and restoring fertility during TRT.
Renew Vitality is a men’s health clinic and hormone therapy center with several locations spread across the U.S. Our physicians stay on the forefront of advances in endocrine medicine, and provide patients with the latest tools and treatments in hormone therapy.
We believe that hormone regimens are only part of the solution for hormone imbalances, this is why we encourage our patients to implement an individualized wellness plan to maximize the effect of hormone therapy.
Do you think your fertility is suffering due to undiagnosed hormone deficiency? If so, schedule a consultation with our trusted providers to see what we can do to address your concerns.
This content was reviewed by Dr. Gary Kawesch. Dr. Kawesch graduated from Yale University, getting his degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He then got his medical degree at the UCLA School of Medicine. He completed his internship in internal medicine at USC’s Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, and his ophthalmology residency at the UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. For over 18 years, Dr. Kawesch was one of the foremost ophthalmic surgeons in the US and has consulted with and was a team doctor for seven professional sports teams in California. He continues to work with the Oakland Raiders. He trained with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and helps men increase their vitality, lifespan and overall healthspan.