Increasing Rate of Male Infertility: What the Study Says
Investigators initially surveyed over 7,500 research works issued from 1973 to 2011 that explored sperm numbers and densities. Then, they undertook an encompassing review of the 185 studies that fit the requirements. Research was carried out on males that had no idea of their fertility, such as those that had never attempted to conceive, as well as those whose fertility was already known. They dismissed any investigations in which men were thought to be incapable of conception. The research encompassed a long duration and encompassed almost 43,000 males living in 50 distinct countries.
The findings were startling. A study revealed that the total amount of sperm had decreased by almost 60% over the span of nearly four decades. Significantly, scientists studied only pieces of work that were published after 1995, and it appears that the diminishing male fertility rate is not decelerating.
Male infertility isn’t just related to procreation, either. Frequently, a diminishment in sperm quantity is a sign of an elevated chance of passing away sooner than expected. The study referred to this as a sign of a looming danger to male health. The researchers who originally set out with the goal of learning about decreasing sperm levels didn’t just stop with their discovery. They also hypothesized causes, such as environmental and lifestyle factors, to further explain the issue.
What does this study point to as the potential reasons for male infertility? Let’s take a closer look.
Worldwide male infertility is increasing at an alarming rate. A 2012 research demonstrates that only 25% of males have fully functioning sperm. Scientists have determined that certain vitamins and minerals enhance sperm number, quality, and movement which makes it more likely to lead to a successful conception without the usage of drugs, costly in-vitro necessaries, or tough operations.
Around forty years ago, couples did not need to worry if they could have a child. Fertility problems were almost unheard of. The situation is currently so severe that if fertility rates remain at the current level, the overall fertility rate of the planet could dip below the worldwide replacement rate within the next decade to four decades.
Although much of the blame is placed on women, the reality is that more than half of all cases of infertility may be related to male factors.2 A 2012 study revealed that just 1 in 4 men have optimal semen quality.3 By some estimates, sperm counts around the world may have dropped by 50% since the 1930s.
It is uncertain what is behind the worrying decrease, yet it is obvious that some of the difficulties seen in the present day are partially responsible. An example of this is poisonous substances that disrupt hormones, like insect repellents, fire inhibitors, and phthalates from plastics, which have an effect on hormones that are responsible for sperm creation. Additionally, too much oxidative pressure can damage DNA and interfere with sperm capabilities. Obesity is an additional factor.
Despite the concerning rise in male sterility, the optimistic news is that, in many instances, it is reversible. Research has shown that certain nutrients can significantly affect sperm quality, resulting in a heightened likelihood of becoming pregnant.
Causes of Male Infertility
What are the causes of male infertility? We will be concentrating on environmental and lifestyle matters today as there are numerous root causes for male infertility, ranging from illnesses, hormone discrepancies, and chromosomal abnormalities to drugs.
For starters, what is the percentage of male infertility? It’s difficult to obtain exact statistics, yet research indicates that the rate of male infertility in North America is somewhere between 4 and 6 percent. In approximately one-third of attempts at conception, male fertility problems are the source of infertility in the couple.
What are the causes of male infertility? Multiple scientists believe that the rising number of men suffering from infertility can be attributed to environmental and lifestyle changes instead of genetic inheritance because these changes are happening too rapidly to be linked solely to genetics. These include both prenatal and adulthood exposure.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Chemicals are thought to play a role in an increase in male infertility due to their disruption of the endocrine system during gestation. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, are all around us. Some of the common materials we need to watch out for are phthalates, triclosan (like the active ingredient in antibacterial soap), and BPAs.
These materials hinder the functioning of our endocrine system, which manages all the hormones and activities within our body. When endocrine-disrupting chemicals interfere with our endocrine systems, they can cause severe consequences in regard to our growth, reproduction, mental health, and immunity. It is believed that the worst damage can occur when the fetus is exposed to something during its prenatal development or in the early stages of pregnancy.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can be especially problematic due to the reality that even a small amount of contact can lead to major outcomes, although it could take numerous years or even decades until the medical implications completely appear.
Smoking. I trust you are cognizant of the risk that smoking poses to your health. Actually, it is the number one avoidable death cause in the US – leading to more fatalities than HIV, illegal drug abuse, drinking, auto collisions, and firearm episodes combined.
Smoking can cause fertility issues in grown men, but prenatal exposure to cigarettes can make a difference as well. Research conducted on a small sample of European male participants uncovered that those prenatally exposed to smoking possess 20% fewer sperm cells as compared to those who have not been exposed. Exposure to second-hand smoke may play a role, too.
Exposure to pesticides. Over the past four decades, we have encountered many pesticides that were not traditionally used, such as Monsanto Roundup. Research into the impact of pesticides on male fertility has yet to be completed, so it is not known precisely how they are causing infertility. Residues of pesticides may remain on our food items for some time after being sprayed with the chemical. Chemicals from the use of pesticides can spread even to food which has not been directly treated with the pesticides.
Could the increase in male infertility over the past four decades really be linked to the use of powerful pesticides? It could be, but I find that unlikely.
Smoking. As I mentioned before, smoking affects male infertility. Tobacco smoke consists of over 4,000 different toxins, which work together to decrease male fertility.
If you are a smoker, you can anticipate degraded semen, a reduced ability of sperm to function, an incapacitated reproductive hormone system, hindered sperm development, and other reproductive problems.
How much you’re smoking matters, too. People who smoke a lot can expect more adverse impacts on their ability to conceive than those who only smoke occasionally. It is worth noting, though, that any sort of smoking can lead to male fertility issues.
Obesity. In the last few decades, obesity has become more prevalent and is contributing to male infertility. It has long been recognized that an overweight female may face troubles with conception, but the issue is also associated with an overweight male partner. Being overweight appears to influence the sperm’s power to fertilize an ovum. This is likely due to impaired semen quality.
Carrying extra weight can lead to a variety of other medical problems that can impact male infertility, for instance, the alteration of hormones and problems with sexual performance.
Declining Sperm Quality
To get an idea of the source of male factor infertility, we have to comprehend the notion of sperm quality. Sperm quality is determined by four factors:
- The total number of sperm cells produced (sperm count),
- Their physical attributes (morphology),
- Their ability to move properly once ejaculated (motility), and
- The integrity of their DNA.
In the most favorable situation, the average healthy young American male is capable of secreting between 300 to 500 million spermatozoa per ejaculation, even though only one is needed to fertilize an egg. Back in the 1940s, the quantity of sperm cells present in each milliliter of ejaculate was often 100 million, exceeding the 40 million threshold for the standard fertility level. Recent research into the lifestyle of today’s young men has revealed an unnerving development: sperm concentrations have decreased so much that quite a few men have less than 40 million/mL, which is the least amount necessary for swift and effective fertility.16,17
Other characteristics of sperm quality may be in danger as well. The ability of sperm to travel to the egg, the amount of sperm present in an ejaculate, and the count of normal sperm with undamaged genetic material have all been reduced in recent times. Likewise, even the amount of testicular cells that create testosterone has gone down.
To tackle the various male elements with medical treatments would necessitate many drugs—many of which are uncertain and have important side effects.22-24 Because of this, women are still the ones going through fertility treatments to make it possible for men with minimal sperm quality to have kids—even when they are not the origin of the issue.
However, none of that may be necessary. Many studies have shown that certain nutrients can have a major effect on sperm quality, which may result in expensive medications or procedures not being necessary.
Natural Remedies That Helps Male Infertility
Carnitine Boosts Fertility Rates
Sperm cells must go much farther than any other individual human cell, and they require extraordinary energy in order to go the distance. Carnitine is a very important nutrient for men who have a low sperm count.
Carnitine is a crucial transporter compound that holds the job of bringing fatty compounds with a great amount of energy into the mitochondria in order for them to be “combusted” for their energy to be released. This enhances the likelihood of sperm succeeding in fertilizing an egg. It is critical to take notice of asthenozoospermia as it is one of the leading causes of male infertility.27
Supplementation with L-carnitine and/or acetyl-L-carnitine has proven benefits on sperm quality.28-34 Doses of 2,000-3,000 mg/day of L-carnitine and 500-1,000 mg/day of acetyl-L-carnitine have produced increases of sperm count, motility, straight-swimming ability, as well as total normal sperm forms in clinical studies.30-34 When men were treated with carnitine, their partners experienced pregnancy ranging from 22 to 31%. The percentages of pregnancies among the groups that were not given carnitine were estimated between 1.7 and 3.8%.
Antioxidants Protect Developing Sperm
Due to sperm cells requiring so much energy, they create oxidation which may, in turn, harm the cell membranes, DNA molecules, as well as the mitochondria that provide the cell its energy.
There’s a well-known association between oxidant stress, the antioxidant capacities of sperm cells and semen, and final sperm quality.36,37 In general, men with elevated markers of oxidation show impaired sperm count and more abnormally-formed cells.9 Conversely, good cellular antioxidant defenses have higher sperm counts and better motility. In essence, individuals with higher-quality sperm consume more antioxidant nutrients than those with poor sperm quality. This result is even more evident in older men who are choosing to father a child more frequently than in the past.
It has been demonstrated that a variety of antioxidants can enhance sperm quality. Some of the vitamins and minerals that may be beneficial include Vitamin C and E, Coenzyme Q10, Selenium, N-Acetylcysteine, and Zinc.
Let’s examine zinc and NAC, both of which are antioxidants that can significantly improve sperm fertility.
Zinc lack has been linked with a decrease in sperm quality due to a buildup of oxidants in the seminal plasma, which is the fluid in semen that helps to keep sperm cells in good condition. In addition, a lack of zinc lowers the quantity of semen produced.39,40,41
Research from both animals and humans indicates that sperm quality is remarkably improved when a person ingests zinc supplements, particularly for those diagnosed with infertility. Taking a dietary supplement of 66 mg of zinc daily, supplemented with 5,000 mcg of folic acid daily, has been demonstrated to raise total normal sperm count by as much as 74% in men who have difficulty conceiving.42,43 In addition, this supplementation has been associated with improved sperm mobility and fertility, decreased levels of DNA damage, structural abnormalities in sperm, and antibodies to sperm that might otherwise impede sperm quality.44
The advantages of taking extra zinc are particularly noticeable in smokers, whose levels of oxidation in the body are enormously greater than those of people who do not smoke. Furthermore, smoking raises the amount of cadmium in testicular tissue, which significantly decreases sperm quality and fertility. Investigations indicate that taking high doses of zinc can reduce the harm caused by cadmium and improve the quality of sperm in people who smoke.
The reduction in sperm quality experienced worldwide, particularly more severe in industrialized countries, has the potential to endanger the existence of humans. It has been hypothesized that the cause for this decrease could be due to unique environmental and dietary elements that only exist today.
Due to over half of the infertility issues being associated with male infertility, it is essential for men to enhance the quality of their sperm. Unfortunately, no form of drugs or standard medical strategies is able to turn around this unsafe pattern.
Vitamins and minerals can often provide hope in situations where pharmaceutical drugs don’t succeed, and the same is true when it comes to increasing sperm quality. Supplements that contain antioxidants and substances that support cell energy can help improve the motility and amount of sperm, as well as the percentage of normal sperm cells while lowering the risk of DNA damage. This could ultimately heighten one’s chances of getting pregnant.