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Male infertility affects 1 in 20 men and is a significant factor in approximately 50% of all cases of infertility worldwide. Two of the most common reasons some men experience infertility are due to a low sperm count and low sperm motility.
In this article, we dive into what low sperm count and low sperm motility mean. We also discuss 8 vitamin and mineral supplements that may help.
What Is a Low Sperm Count?
A man is considered to have a low sperm count or oligospermia if his semen fluid contains fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen. Some men also experience a complete lack of sperm altogether, this is called azoospermia.
What is considered to be a normal sperm count is when the number of sperm ranges between 15 million to over 200 million per millilitre of ejaculate.
Most men don’t know that they have a low sperm count until they try to conceive a child and experience infertility. This is mostly due to signs and symptoms not being very obvious.
Some of the reasons men experience low sperm counts include:
- Inherited chromosomal abnormality
- Hormone imbalance
- Dilated testicular veins (blocks the passage for sperm)
While uncommon, some men do experience symptoms related to a low sperm count. If you experience any of the following symptoms it is important to speak to your doctor, especially during a fertility journey.
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculation problems
- Pain, swelling or lumps in or around the testicle area.
- Decreased facial or body hair
These signs could be pointing to chromosome or hormone abnormalities that could be corrected with treatment or supplements to increase sperm count.
What Is Low Sperm Motility?
Low sperm motility means that a man’s sperm is not moving quickly enough to reach the woman’s egg for fertilization. Slow sperm and a low sperm count combined account for around 90% of male infertility cases.
Low sperm motility may be caused by:
- Injured testicles
- Testicular cancer
- Long-term use of anabolic steroids
- Cannabis and cocaine usage
- Varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum)
While a lot of cases of low motility remain unexplained, it can be treated with different vitamins and supplements that can encourage healthy sperm production and increased motility.
How To Increase Sperm Count and Motility
Increasing sperm count and motility is thankfully quite achievable for most men and can be treated with different natural and artificial supplements with minimal side effects. Here is a list of 8 supplements to increase sperm count and sperm motility worth considering:
Zinc is a micronutrient that helps to promote fertility by raising testosterone and promoting faster muscle growth in men. If a man does not have enough zinc then they could be experiencing low sperm count as well as low sperm quality.
You can get zinc through a supplement as well as through your diet by eating red meat, eggs, oysters and other animal products.
Folate or Folic Acid
Folate is a B vitamin found in superfoods like leafy greens, eggs, lentils, and beans. Folate can help men with their fertility as it can increase their sperm count. Humans do not create their own folate so we often need supplements to ensure we get enough. Folic acid, while often interchangeable with folate, is just the synthetic form of folate that isn’t active until digested - both offer the same benefits.
A Dutch study, published in the March 2002 issue of Fertility and Sterility, found that men who experience infertility can increase sperm count by up to 74% in less than 6 months by taking a folic acid supplement, combined with zinc, daily.
L-carnitine is made in our brain, liver and kidneys to help the body burn fat into energy and is an essential vitamin required for healthy metabolism in humans. L-carnitine has also been positively linked to improved sperm motility in men with a low sperm count.
Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants, but humans cannot make their own. We must get vitamin C through our diet or supplements. Some of the most common sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, strawberries and more.
Vitamin C can help men with infertility as it improves the health of sperm as well as boost sperm production. A study concluded that in just two months of taking a vitamin C supplement men experienced higher sperm motility and fewer deformed sperm cells.
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) is an enzyme and antioxidant that helps sperm with any type of degradation or stress. Co-Q10 is already found in seminal fluid, and typically the more you have the higher your sperm count could be. This is why it is often prescribed to men as a supplement to assist them on their fertility journey.
Vitamin E is an essential vitamin for helping our cells avoid getting damaged, including sperm. It is found naturally in nuts, seeds, avocado, and vegetable oils. A vitamin E supplement can improve sperm motility in men as it helps the sperm membrane remain stronger for longer.
Selenium is a mineral often used by men with infertility as it is important for reproductive functions including testosterone metabolism and sperm motility. Research indicates that selenium and vitamin E together can boost sperm count and sperm motility by around 50%.
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin found in fattier foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products. B12 is used for a lot of different reasons throughout our bodies, but one of the main reasons is cellular energy production. This means B12 is an essential vitamin for producing DNA and sperm. Many men take a vitamin B12 supplement as a part of a regular regimen to increase sperm count.
Supplements for Male Fertility
Our Medfertil For Men includes all 8 of the vitamins and minerals listed above, designed specifically to help men on their fertility journey. Visit Elan’s Products Page to learn more about our range of organic supplements and their different features.
Please use our Contact Us page if you have any questions about male infertility.
1 - How common is male infertility, and what are its causes? By NIH Office of Communications. Last reviewed Dec 2016.
2 - Low sperm count by Mayo Clinic Staff. Published Oct. 2020.
3 - Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature by Kumar N, Singh AK. Published Nov 2015.
4 & 5 - Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence based review by Ahmadi S, Bashiri R, Ghadiri-Anari A, Nadjarzadeh A. Published Dec 2016.
6 - Selenium–vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate by Moslemi MK, Tavanbakhsh S. Published Jan 2011.