Habits and nutrients that help male fertility and sexual performance
Published: 17 November, 2020 | 4'
November is Male Sexual Health Month. It is where Movember is held, an annual event that encourages men to grow a moustache in order to raise awareness of the problems of male health, including infertility.
The most common cause of infertility in men is poor semen quality, i.e. too few or not enough sperm. It may also be caused by anatomical disorders, damage or disorders in ejaculation, among others.
However, diet and lifestyle also have an impact on sperm quality, as well as on improving sexual activity . It has been shown that the intake of some foods and nutrients through the diet can have positive effects on this.
Are there habits to be improved in order to increase male fertility?.
The answer is yes, there are several habits and routines that can be followed by men in their daily lives to enhance fertility:
- Reducing the intake of alcohol and tobacco. The consumption of alcohol regularly decreases fertility, as well as making ejaculation more difficult. With regard to tobacco, it reduces the quantity and density of semen.
- Regular physical exercise. Doing sport every day helps the mobility of the sperms.
- Healthy eating. A healthy diet, including antioxidant and vitamin C-rich foods, contributes to sexual health. In addition, consumption of nuts or aphrodisiac foods such as berries also contributes to sexual activity.
- Increased frequency of sexual activity. Long-term male abstinence may reduce sperm quality. However, excessive frequency can result in the movement of still immature sperm.
- Reduced stress levels. Men who have less stress have a higher number of spermatozoa.
- Avoid heat in the reproductive system. High temperature showers or saunas are not suitable for sperm production.
- Be more careful with some medicines. There are drugs with adverse effects that affect sperm quality.
Testosterone levels and sperm quality.
Testosterone is the most important male sex hormone, as it is involved in the production of sperm and in the development of male representative properties such as hair growth and muscle mass.
According to the American Urological Association (AUA), a low blood testosterone level is thought to be below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Adequate levels of this hormone are essential for men to have a healthy life, since low levels of testosterone cause fertility problems, among other things.
Regarding the quality of the sperm, there are tests such as the seminogram which look at the colour, viscosity or quantity of the semen in order to check if the quality is adequate. The minimum values set by the WHO in 2010 are 1.5 ml quantity, a concentration of 15 million sperm per millilitre, 40% motility and a normal profile with an oval and symmetrical head.
According to the study carried out by the Department of Urology at the University of Łódź, poor sperm quality can be due to anatomical causes and also to environmental factors such as exposure to specific chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides or electromagnetic radiation that lead to oxidative stress. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 25% of male infertility shows high figures of oxidative stress. However, some antioxidant vitamins and minerals have benefits that contribute to sexual health.
The important role of food.
Food has always been an essential factor in the proper functioning of our organism. This is why, once again, the important role played by an adequate and healthy diet for good sexual health is evident, as there are some foods that have more specific properties than others.
- On the one hand, fruit and vegetables have an antioxidant effect which contributes to sexual health. These mainly include red fruits, strawberries, blueberries, spinach and carrots.
- Nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, play a role in the production of sperm.
- The intake of dairy products because of their calcium content and oily fish because of their omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the proper production of sperm.
Vitamins and minerals related to fertility and reproduction.
Several studies, such as the one carried out by the Department of Urology at the University of Łódź on male fertility, have shown that the effects of oral antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, zinc and folic acid contribute to sperm quality.
The role of zinc and selenium.
Zinc and selenium are minerals with an important role in fertility as they also have an effect on the mobility of sperm.
Selenium is a micronutrient present in foods such as seafood or dairy products that is involved in sperm production.
With regard to zinc, it is also present in the process of spermatogenesis and plays a role in the quantity and movement of spermatozoa as well as increasing the level of testosterone. Nuts and cereals are foods containing this element.
The antioxidant capacity of vitamins C and E.
Vitamins C and E have very important antioxidant properties in our body, as they contribute to the reduction of oxidative stress, which has a negative effect on male fertility.
Vitamin C helps to increase the number of cells needed in the composition of spermatozoa, which promotes their mobility. It also reduces some substances that affect sperm quality. It is mainly present in fruits and citrus fruits.
Regarding Vitamin E, it is mainly responsible for protecting the components of sperm cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. Foods rich in this vitamin are vegetable oils or nuts.
Ginseng for physical performance.
Ginseng is an herb considered to be an aphrodisiac. In old times, it was used for the erectile function of men. That is why it is considered a great ally in sexual relationships.
However, the properties of ginseng also have an influence on physical performance and it is recommended when doing sports, since the stimulation of the nervous system increases the energy of the body.