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7 ways to boost sperm count for male fertility


Ladies, getting pregnant isn’t all down to us. Ok, admittedly most of it is (coming off contraception, ovulation tracking, working out the right time to have sex etc.) – er, not to mention us doing most (all) of the work during pregnancy. BUT, male fertility certainly has an important role to play when it comes to making a baby. 

In one-third of cases, infertility is actually caused by male factors. Getting pregnant sometimes comes down to how to improve male fertility – often by looking for ways to boost sperm count. So we’re here to explore how it’s done.

Female fertility vs male fertility 

You might be familiar with some of the things that can affect female fertility – think: being over 35, endometriosis, PCOS, fallopian tube blockages, ovulation issues etc. Age, lifestyle factors, health conditions, and random reproductive issues can result in male infertility too.

As with female fertility, it can sometimes be difficult to work out what’s causing the issue – bodies are WHACK! – which is where a male fertility test comes in handy. 

In about a third of male infertility cases, the problem isn’t to do with the sperm itself but with how the sperm travels. (And no, we don’t mean Business vs. Economy.) Blockages in your man’s tubes can stop his swimmers from reaching your eggs, and this could be caused by genetic conditions, injury, or a vasectomy.

We’ll talk about how to test male fertility in a sec, but first let’s look at why you might be led down the path of a sperm count test, and why it’s an important part of assessing male fertility.

What role does sperm play in male fertility?

A pretty big one. (And in this case, bigger is not better.)

Sperm cells are a vital ingredient in the baby-making process, and are what fertilise a woman’s egg to create a fetus. A below-average sperm count, or sperm cells that are of poor quality, significantly decrease the chances of a baby being made.

Let’s put this into perspective.

The ‘normal’ sperm count range is anywhere between 15 million and 200 million sperm per millilitre of semen. (WILD to think that hundreds of millions of sperm cells lead to just ONE baby – unless you have twins of course.) If a man’s sperm density is less than 15 million, it’s considered a low sperm count. This is where your doctor will start the conversation about how to raise sperm count for increased chances of getting you pregnant.

On the flip side, sperm quality can impact male fertility too. Oh yes, not all sperm is created equal. Abnormally shaped sperm (called ‘teratospermia’) doesn’t behave as it should, so may not fertilise the egg correctly. Or at all.

So as you’ve probably gathered, sperm is a big deal. It’s often the first thing a fertility doctor will look at when doing a male fertility test.

What a male fertility test might involve

Semen analysis

This is the main method doctors will use to confirm an adequately high sperm count and that the swimmers are in good form. Your guy will either ‘have a good time’ (we mean masturbate) in a private room at the clinic, or he may be able to collect a sample at home and deliver it ASAP. 

Next, the sample is looked at under a microscope to check for abnormalities. A semen analysis will often be done a few times to confirm results.

There’s also an option to do a version of this test in the comfort of your own home! An at-home male fertility test can be purchased from most pharmacies. But be mindful – they may not be as accurate as a male fertility test done at a clinic.

Blood tests

A blood test could be done to check hormone levels (as hormones play a big role in sperm production) or for genetic anomalies. These can also contribute to male infertility.

Urinalysis

If your male fertility doctor orders a urine test, it’s probably to look for signs of sperm in your guy’s pee. This could be a sign of retrograde ejaculation – when sperm travels backwards into the bladder during sex, rather than into the urethra. (It can happen!)

Ultrasound

Ultrasounds aren’t always reserved for looking at babies in bellies. A doctor could perform a scrotal or a transrectal ultrasound on men with suspected tubal blockages or issues with their testicles.

Ways to increase sperm count

When sperm count is the problem, you and your partner are probably going to want some tips on how to boost male fertility. There are some lifestyle changes he can make, and some medical options when it comes to how to increase sperm count. 

1. Make some lifestyle changes

Quit the bad stuff

Giving up smoking, limiting alcohol, and making an effort to stress less (hello yoga!) are all a step in the right direction to increase male fertility. Studies have also shown that being within recommended weight range can do wonders for boosting fertility – both for men and women.

Foods to increase male fertility

It’s also interesting to note that there are certain foods that help improve male fertility. In particular, those that are rich in antioxidants. Cram some of these into your meals and harness the power of food to increase sperm count:

  • Leafy greens, beef liver, beans, peas and fortified grains (high in folic acid).
  • Tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon (high in lycopene).
  • Brazil nuts (high in selenium).
  • Red capsicum, kiwi fruit, oranges (high in Vitamin C)
  • Nuts, seeds, oils (high in Vitamin E).
  • Oysters, crab, red meat, poultry and beans (high in zinc).

Some studies also suggest that soy products should be limited to help boost male fertility.

Check his working environment

Exposure to toxins has been shown to decrease fertility in males and females. For example, farmers, painters, varnishers, and metalworkers have been found to have lower sperm count or poorer quality sperm than men in other professions. Using the right protective equipment on the job is vital – whether a guy is trying to become a dad or not. 

Chat to your fertility specialist if your partner works around chemicals but is exploring how to get sperm count up.

2. Keep it cool

Increased scrotal temperature (a phrase I never thought I’d write) has been associated with sperm production issues. While more testing is needed in this area, wearing loose-fitting underwear, avoiding saunas and spas, reducing periods of sitting, and slapping your partner’s warm laptop off his lap area could help increase sperm count.

3. Exercise

Papa-to-be doesn’t need to become a gym junkie, but regular moderate exercise has been proven to increase antioxidant enzymes that protect sperm cells. And those fellas need all the help they can get.

4. Choose the right lube

Some experts recommend sticking to fertility-friendly lubricants for sex, including natural ones like canola oil or egg whites. (If rubbing raw egg onto a penis doesn’t turn you on, then I don’t know what will.) At the very least, look for lubes that are “fertility-friendly”.

5. Try supplements

There’s a bit of contention around whether female and male fertility vitamins do anything, so we have to recommend chatting to a doctor before your partner starts to down them. But, we are starting to see male fertility supplements flood the market a bit more these days. We like that for two reasons:

1. It shows that the medical community (and society at large) is recognising the role men have to play in getting pregnant. Takes the pressure off us, yas!

2. It should lead to more widespread research into the effect of male fertility vitamins and their benefits in future.

6. Explore medication

In some cases a low sperm count is treated with medication, such as gonadotropin. This is a type of hormone that stimulates sperm production. Your fertility specialist should explain how it works and if it’s recommended for your partner.

7. Have plenty of sex

Now here’s some homework you can both get on board with. Frequent ejaculation can help improve male fertility and ensure sperm is in tip-top shape. Doctors suggest doing it 2–3 times per week. We suggest going at it whenever the mood hits.

Should you hit up a male fertility clinic?

Doctors generally recommended looking into causes of infertility after 12 months of trying, or after 6 months if you’re over 35. This process will probably involve you and your partner both going through fertility testing. Specialised male fertility doctors can help your partner identify any issues with his reproductive organs, including his sperm production.

So in short, yes. Don’t go it alone with infertility. It’s tough stuff for you and your partner to go through. Opening up to friends and family about your struggles may make it easier to cope, but support from a male fertility clinic can help you get some answers and solutions too.


Read next: When and why to see a fertility doctor: a 5 minute guide

Mayo Clinic, Healthy sperm: Improving your fertility 

Melbourne IVF, Semen analysis

Melbourne IVF, Abnormal sperm production

Urology Care Foundation, What is Male Infertility?

IVF Australia, Male fertility assessment

Genea, How to Increase Sperm Count

National Health Service UK, Low sperm count

Mayo Clinic, Low sperm count

Verywell Family, 11 Tips to Increase Fertility For Men 

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