Semen quality is not about masculinity. Unfortunately, a lot of men struggle with low semen quality these days. So, what can we do to help improve semen quality naturally?
In addition to vitamins and minerals, there are many other substances that have fertility promoting effects. Some of them include fenugreek seeds; tribulus terrestris, which increases semen viability; astaxanthin; Indian ginseng, also known as Ashwagandh;, aloe vera; royal jelly; cinnamon; green tea; red wine; brown beer; or dark chocolate. I am testing the last three, however, strictly in the recommended quantities. I strongly believe in them!
When it comes to male fertility, we talk about a lot of things that we need to give up, such as cigarettes, alcohol, or caffeine, and that we need to develop a healthy relationship with physical activity. We also have to consider lifestyle changes that are not easy to make for everyone. But what about changing our diet and choosing the right foods? We can find plenty of articles about nutrition and how it affects male fertility. It is easy to get lost in the abundance of information, and find out which suggestions have scientific proof to support it.
Simply put, sperm develops and matures within three months. With certain lifestyle changes, we can often achieve improvements to semen quality. However, it must be emphasized that these changes can improve semen quality, but that does not guarantee that a couple's fertility will increase, too. There are many parameters evaluated in the spermiogram, among others: the sperm count, the sperm shape, and the sperm motility. Another essential factor for healthy sperm is the energy to achieve their goal.
The good news is that there are plenty of simple things we can do to help improve our fertility health. So what can we do?
Drink plenty of plain water every day - at least 2 liters. I filled up a one-liter bottle with water and kept it with me at all times. I drank the first bottle before 11am, the second bottle by 3pm, and the last one before 7pm. It was a struggle in the beginning, but I got used to it in just one week and was able to keep up my good habit.
To positively influence semen quality, I also started making changes to my diet. The only recommendation that can currently be made to the general male population is to adhere to a healthy dietary pattern rich in plant-based foods such as in a Mediterranean diet; to reduce dairy consumption; and to give up processed foods (including salami and sausages, which I love). However, the good news is that one can eat a lot of seafood and fish due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
A balanced diet is one of the most important factors for a healthy lifestyle. Extreme diets should be avoided; both low carb and high protein diets can hurt the semen quality - right now is not the time to go to any extremes!
Research has shown that free radicals may cause a decrease in semen quality, so the consumption of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, coenzyme Q-10, or L-carnitine, may help as well. The optimal intake of the following vitamins and minerals is the key to semen quality improvement:
- Zinc: the “fertility mineral”. It is one of the cornerstones of male fertility because it raises semen concentration, motility and testosterone levels. Natural sources include seafood, beef, lamb, chicken, nuts, legumes
- Selenium: an antioxidant that can improve semen concentration and motility. Natural sources include meat, sea fish, spinach, cabbage, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, whole grains.
- Omega-3: essential fatty acids. They help with semen concentration, count, motility and improve its morphology. Natural Source include fish, shellfish.
- Vitamin C: an antioxidant. It improves almost all semen parameters. Natural sources include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, parsley, paprika, radish, spinach, papaya, citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, black currant.
- B-9: Folate, the natural form of B9, also called folic acid in a synthetic form, promotes semen production, and is essential for DNA synthesis. Natural sources include legumes, eggs, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and ginger.
- B-12: Natural sources include beef, chicken, liver, salmon, tuna, eggs, seeds, cracklings, bananas.
- Vitamin E: an antioxidant. Natural sources include almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, and avocado.
- Calcium: Natural sources include salmon, chia seeds, sardines, almonds, dark leafy vegetables, dried figs, oatmeal.
We can choose between natural sources that contain these minerals and vitamins but where exact quantities are unknown. Or we can opt for vitamin and mineral supplements that we can regularly consume in individual recommended quantities. Whichever route you choose, it's always a good idea to consult with your physician or fertility specialist to decide upon the right kinds and amounts. To make my (and my wife’s) life easier, I made a list of cooking ingredients to boost fertility and I tried to integrate as many of them into my daily diet as possible.