Wondering how to increase sperm count? Confused about basic ejaculate facts? Have no fear; we’re here to help you understand the causes of low sperm count. We'll also propose a few natural remedies that you can get started on right away at home.
In this article, we’ll talk about natural sperm boosters that you can use to increase your sperm count. We’ll go over common causes of low sperm count. Additionally, we'll check out some herbs for low sperm count so that you can get back on the track you’d like to be. First, let's discuss what sperm is in the context of your body and sperm count.
Sperm vs. Semen vs. Ejaculate: What’s the Difference
If you’re interested in how to increase sperm count, some background information is in order. What’s the difference between sperm, semen, and “ejaculate?” What is their relationship to each other?
Sperm cells are mobile reproductive cells. They carry half of the chromosome complement and form in the testes. Sperm cells are living cells. They propel themselves around with their flagella in hopes of unifying with an egg. If you’ve ever seen a tadpole, you’ve seen something that resembles a sperm cell.
Sperm cells never go anywhere outside of the body without being carried along by seminal fluid. The vagina is a hostile environment for sperm in the absence of semen.
Semen is a protective and non-living liquid. It contains amino acids, preservatives, sugars, enzymes, thickeners, and nutrients to help sustain and protect the sperm as they attempt to locate eggs. Semen nearly always has sperm suspended inside of it. We'll discuss later on how to produce more semen than sperm.
The body uses a few different glands to produce semen. The prostate, bulbourethral glands, and seminal vesicles are each necessary for semen to secrete.
If there are any problems with any of these glands, semen production will suffer accordingly. Weak semen production doesn’t necessarily decrease sperm count. However, it may decrease the viability of sperm over time. Think of semen as the vehicle that sperm need to get around.
Ejaculate is the combination of sperm and semen that exists outside the body after ejaculation. Later in this article, we'll discuss how to increase ejaculate. Ejaculate is an informal term, so increasing your semen and sperm production will make this possible.
Causes of a Low Sperm Count
Understanding how to increase your sperm count means understanding why sperm count might be lower than normal. Low sperm count has a few potential causes.
If your body is fighting off an infection, sex cell production takes a backseat to defense. Infection based lowering of sperm count is typically transient. It usually subsides soon after the infection has been fought off. For those who have diseases such as diabetes or HIV, it’s probable that the sperm count will be lower than in other people.
Surprisingly enough, it’s possible to become “allergic” to your sperm. If ejaculation hasn’t occurred in quite a while, the body’s immune system loses track of sperm cells as “self” cells. This allows it to develop antibodies against sperm. The antibodies kill them whenever they’re anywhere other than the testes. Thankfully, it’s possible to re-habituate the immune system to sperm gradually.
Cancer, like infections, puts sperm production on hold until the disease is fought off. This disease causes systemic weakness. The resources used to produce sperm are repurposed elsewhere to fight off the tumor. Or, in cases of severe malignancy, to feed the tumor’s growth. It goes without saying that cancers of the male reproductive system will lower sperm count even more than other cancers.
Hormone imbalances encapsulate a very large number of possible conditions, however, for men, testosterone and cortisol are the two most likely culprits of a low sperm count. Testosterone is a critical signal for sperm production, and when it’s out of whack, sperm won’t form in sufficient quantities. In contrast, cortisol is a stress hormone, and high levels of stress put a damper on the entire reproductive system—but especially sperm production.
Congenital disabilities in the male reproductive track—especially those that result in crimping of the vas deferens—reduce sperm count and also the quality of the sperm that form. For most people, this isn’t a concern.
Genetic defects and mutations
Much like congenital disabilities, genetic mutations can reduce the rate of production of sperm and also reduce the viability of every sperm that does get produced. Aside from mutations, which may slightly weaken function, there are genetic defects involving the Y chromosome. Many individuals with Y chromosome abnormalities are sterile, although there are some who will still have a sperm count, albeit a low one.
Environmental exposure to industrial chemicals or heavy metals like lead or copper put a major dent in sperm production, along with all of the other most sensitive areas of the body like the brain. Some chemical exposure may cause permanent damage to sperm production—like in lead poisoning—whereas other exposure can wash out of the system and allow sperm production to return to normal levels.
Thankfully, most people don’t need to worry about being irradiated. If you were irradiated recently, you’re probably suffering from a very low sperm count. Radiation from X-rays or nuclear materials destroys the DNA within sperm much more readily than it does in other cells because of the sperm cell’s relative fragility.
Tobacco, drug, or alcohol use
Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and doing drugs are all factors that could play into a low sperm count. Tobacco is broadly detrimental to many of the body’s tissues, and likely compromises the ability for sperm cells to have their cell membranes formed—not good. Alcohol’s effects, while also systemic, are more likely to cause inflammation of the reproductive tissues, which reduces their efficiency and puts them under more stress than they would be otherwise.
As far as drugs go, the effect on sperm count will vary depending on the drug. Marijuana is often singled out as causing low sperm count, but the research isn’t so clear. For many drugs, the effect on sperm count isn’t known, so tread with care.
Obesity is a big detractor from sperm count because of the altered chemical properties that an obese person’s body has. Unlike in a body of normal weight, obesity changes the proportion of the body’s circulating glucose, fructose, cortisol, and inflammatory molecules. Sperm needs glucose to be formed and to sustain themselves, and we’ve already covered how they suffer in inflammatory environments or those rich in cortisol.
Why Increase Sperm Count?
Increasing sperm count is worthwhile for a few reasons. First and most importantly, it’ll be easier to conceive a child with a higher sperm count. The same goes for freezing down sperm to save for later—having a high count means that you’ll need to deliver fewer samples before the laboratory has enough cells to be worth keeping.
Second, individuals with higher sperm counts are more likely to conceive a healthy child. Low sperm count is indicative of flaws in sperm production, which leads to the sperm that does get produced carrying various faults that wouldn’t’ exist otherwise. Faulty yet somewhat functional sperm can still on occasion bind to an egg, but the resulting clump of cells will carry with it any genetic flaws that the sperm may have had. Flawed blastocysts could result in miscarriages, or worse, a child with congenital disabilities or genetic defects.
Finally, increasing sperm count means living a healthier lifestyle, which is worth pursuing in and of itself. Individuals who exercise, have good nutrition, and maintain a happy disposition are healthier, and good health leads to a higher sperm count, generally speaking. For many people, raising their sperm count will involve culling old bad habits and replacing them with better ones.
Home Remedies to Increase Sperm Count
Garlic is useful for some different health benefits, including increasing your sperm count, most likely through its action as a general aphrodisiac.
Tribulus is a weed which increases testosterone when taken orally. There are quite a few unanswered questions about tribulus, including how it could influence sperm production, but if you’re desperate, it might be worth a shot. If you haven’t checked out all the other options on this list, you should probably do so before turning to tribulus.
Aerobic exercise is one of the most potent ways to naturally increase your sperm count. Engaging in aerobic exercise increases the overall wellness of your body, which translates into lower stress, better metabolism, and thus, higher sperm count. You’ll receive the fringe benefits of better tissue oxygenation all over your body to boot.
Damiana is a flowering shrub that’s rich in oils and phytochemicals like flavonoids, phenolics, glycosides, and triterpenoids. Some cultivars of damiana even contain caffeine. Damiana isn’t well understood, but it is known to have anxiolytic and sperm count increasing effects.
Zinc is one of the most common supplements used to increase sperm count. There have been numerous studies which show that zinc may be able to increase your sperm count by up to 74%, at the cost of a slightly higher percentage of abnormally formed sperm. Zinc is necessary to form healthy sperm because it’s an essential ingredient in the backbone of DNA.
Anaerobic exercise offers a different profile of benefits than aerobic exercise. Unlike the long-term tissue oxygenation that aerobic exercise offers, anaerobic exercise provides a tangible increase in testosterone while increasing the strength of your muscles as well as overall wellbeing. You’ll have the best results if you combine both forms of exercise.
Monitor Alcohol Intake
As we mentioned before, alcohol is broadly inflammatory for all your body’s tissues, and thus is a form of stress, which reduces sperm count. Monitoring or reducing your alcohol intake will reduce the amount of generalized inflammation that your body suffers through, and may increase your sperm count as a result.
Masturbation results in sperm being a decreased percentage of the ejaculate because sperm needs to be rebuilt in the testes after their previous cohort leaves. More ejaculations mean less sperm per ejaculation, which means that masturbation is a surefire way to having a lower sperm count.
The common dessert banana is a sperm-count increasing food, and there are a few explanations why. First, bananas are rich in nutrients, which means that eating one is likely to help sperm production by providing your body with the building blocks it needs. Second, bananas may have an enzyme which regulates sex hormones, which could help to increase sperm count.
Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and have recently been shown to increase sperm count as well. The line of reasoning behind pomegranates for sperm count is that the antioxidants of the pomegranate will bind to the reactive oxygen species created as a byproduct of metabolism and remove them from your blood—which means that your system is under less stress than it normally would be.
Poor diet is a major cause of low sperm count, so it follows that improving your diet to include more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and fat would increase your sperm count. Remember: fish, non-starchy vegetables, and modest amounts of fruit have never led anyone to illness.
Keep Testes Cool
The testes hang away from the body to help regulate their temperature. Sperm cells are quite sensitive to temperature increases and tend to be fewer in number when exposed to higher temperatures. It’s not the easiest strategy, but keeping your testes cooler than normal may help to increase your sperm count. Don’t rely on it as your only method, though.
As we mentioned before, smoking causes a broad variety of stressful effects on your body, all of which contribute to lowering your sperm count. Quitting smoking will likely raise your sperm count and result in fewer sperm abnormalities as well—and it’s great for your long-term health. Smokers have a lower volume of oxygen in their blood than non-smokers, and blood oxygenation is a critical measurement of general health.
Are you noticing a trend in sperm count maintenance yet? Stress kills off sperm production quickly because it’s an inflammatory evolutionary signal that things aren’t stable. If things aren’t stable, the body’s reaction is to consolidate its resources into life-sustaining functions—not reproduction. Inflammation and consolidating resources away from reproduction are surefire ways to lower sperm count.
Raw Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fats which your body needs to create cell membranes—and a batch of sperm requires quite a lot of cell membrane. The takeaway message here is that you should be trying to get your body’s fat requirements from healthy sources like vegetable oils instead of artificial oils or unhealthy foods.
Maca is a root used in traditional medicine that has recently found some traction as a regulator of male sex hormones, particularly testosterone. Maca was found to increase sexual desire in men as well as sperm count when taken every day. There are a lot of unanswered questions about maca, but it might be a good supplement to try out if you’re trying to increase your sperm count.
Ashwagandha is a herb which, like maca, has been used in traditional medicine for many hundreds of years. Similarly, a recent study showed that ashwagandha supplementation increased sperm quality as well as semen volume and sperm count. If you’re wondering how to increase semen production, check out ashwagandha. There will probably be follow-up studies which shed more light on exactly how ashwagandha increases sperm count, but for now, it might be worth experimenting with if you’re willing to risk some minor side effects.
Ginseng has long been used in Chinese traditional medicine for a wide variety of purposes, including more recently to increase sperm count. Ginseng seems to boost testosterone levels in men who take it as an oral supplement for a few weeks with no side effects. If you’re going to try out ginseng to increase sperm count, be sure to read reviews online of the ginseng you’re thinking of buying. Not all ginsengs are the same, and not all ginsengs of the same cultivar are manufactured equally well.
Horny Goat Weed
With a name like “horny goat weed,” it’s reasonable to expect this herb to increase sperm count. Horny goat weed has a history in Chinese traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac and seems to increase testosterone in men who use it. Horny goat weed also increases heart rate and may cause headaches.
Green tea is a fantastic way to increase your sperm count because it has a wide variety of other beneficial effects, too. Additionally, green tea contains theanine as well as other compounds which increase sperm motility and also reduce the number of sperm aberrations. You’ll also get a dose of relaxation—another sperm count benefactor—and focus to boot.
Precautions and Other Tips
Now that you’ve got a good idea about how to increase sperm count, it’s time to take a deep breath before continuing. You might be tempted to dive off the deep end and start trying to implement four, five, or maybe even all twenty of these sperm increasing techniques while cutting out the sperm count killers that we discussed earlier.
Take a pause
Think of increasing your sperm count as a habit rather than a one-off thing. If you simply load yourself up with a bunch of supplements and lifestyle changes, your sperm count will indeed increase—until you get tired of keeping up with all of the different new habits.
Take a gradual approach to increasing your sperm count. First, try to make the lifestyle changes away from habits which may be decreasing your sperm count like smoking, drinking too much, or doing too many drugs. Next, try fixing up your diet—start with eating healthy one meal a week, then work your way up to a healthy diet. After that, you might want to take on exercising aerobically, then later, anaerobically.
Decreasing your stress is going to be a goal for increasing your sperm count, but also a byproduct of other methods which you’ll be using to increase your sperm count. Exercise and a healthy diet decrease stress, as do several of the herbal supplements which we’ve mentioned.
Barring genetic or congenital disabilities, your sperm count is largely within your control. Think of your sperm count as a holistic product of your lifestyle. The healthier and happier you get, the more your sperm count will rise, to a point. Once you’ve “maxed out” your sperm count with healthy living, it might be time to consult some of the herbal remedies which we’ve mentioned.
The trick to using these herbs is to read summaries of the latest scientific literature about their efficacy. Once you’ve read about the indications that each herb is effective in, copy the methods that were used to get the positive results of the literature. Remember, if a herb was effective for people in one study, you probably would need to mimic the methods of that study to get the benefits advertised.
If you experience any side effects, just stop taking the supplement. The stress of side effects is probably going to hamper any sperm count increasing effects that the supplement has.
Hopefully, you now have a good idea about how to increase sperm count—remember, when in doubt, invest effort in improving your lifestyle, and your sperm will thank you in return.