Improve Your Chances of Conceiving With These Over-the-Counter Aides
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Male infertility can be difficult to discuss and is often limited to the company of one’s physician or closest family and friends. However, it’s actually quite common for men to experience fertility issues, and wanting to improve your chances of conception with a loving partner shouldn’t be shameful or embarrassing.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 30 percent of all cases of infertility can be traced to the male in a relationship. This means that if you are struggling with male fertility, you are not alone. You should also know that you may have solutions.
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What Causes Male Infertility?
Several factors can influence male fertility, sperm concentration, sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm health with some of the most common including:
- Pre-existing genetic conditions
- Abuse of alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, and other recreational drugs
- Groin injury or damage to the testicles and surrounding area
- A personal sexual history of STIs or urinary tract infections
- Hormonal imbalances, predominantly in the form of a low testosterone level
- Erectile dysfunction or ejaculatory issues
- Poor nutrition
- Over-exercising or, conversely, having a sedentary lifestyle
- Stress and anxiety
- Increased age
Sperm count refers to the number of active sperm present in a man’s semen, while sperm motility – or mobility – refers to the speed and dexterity of those sperm cells.
According to Dr. James Nodler of CCRM Fertility in Houston, Texas “Reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, avoiding tobacco products, getting six to eight hours of sleep a night, and keeping a healthy diet can be greatly beneficial to both sperm quantity and quality.”
The good news is that, in some cases, male fertility supplements can also help to assuage the problem.
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How Do Fertility Supplements Work?
For men wrestling with infertility, adopting healthier lifestyle habits is key to improving sperm quantity and quality. While you can’t change your age or genetic makeup, you can reduce stress, adopt a nutritious diet, lose some weight if necessary, quit smoking, reduce your alcohol intake, and add a supplement to your daily routine.
- Improve chances to conceive: “Supplements are additional aids to an overall healthy lifestyle and can help many couples improve their chances to conceive, in specific situations,” says Dr. Felice Gersh, founder of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine and the author of PCOS SOS Fertility Fast Track. “The conditions most likely aided by supplements include unexplained infertility, aging individuals, and issues of poor sperm quality and quantity.”
- Neutralize free radicals and oxidating stress: Dr. Lucky Sekhon, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility expert at RMA of New York, adds that sperm is very susceptible to damage from free radicals and pro-oxidant chemicals/exposures.“Therefore supplements and vitamins that neutralize excess free radicals and oxidative stress have been shown to improve semen analysis results and overall fertility.”
- D-AA and ALC can play a role: Many male fertility supplements rely on an ingredient known as D-aspartic acid or D-AA, for short. D-AA is an amino acid that is naturally present in a male body, taking up residence in the testicles, and it can also be found in semen. A lack of D-AA is strongly linked to infertility, meanwhile, research has found that D-AA supplements have proven to be beneficial in improving men’s fertility and increasing testosterone levels.
While more research is needed, Acetyl L-carnitine or ALC has also been shown to have a positive impact on men’s sperm motility and, in turn, fertility as well.
- Vitamins and minerals: Just as a woman takes a prenatal vitamin, before, during, and after pregnancy to ensure she is covering all her nutrient bases, men should ensure their bodies are getting all the nutrients they need when trying to conceive. If you aren’t already taking a multivitamin or any type of daily vitamin regularly, it might be time to start.
Vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 are all standard components of male fertility supplements. Vitamin C, specifically, has been shown to significantly increase both the motility and the overall number of sperm present within semen. Many experts chalk this increase up to the antioxidant – or anti-inflammatory – properties of this supplement. Lycopene and zinc, too, are frequently included in male fertility supplements.
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Things to Know Before Buying Male Fertility Supplement
Check the label: The manufacturer of supplements definitely matters when it comes to deciding which fertility supplement to purchase. “Look at the label for additives and chemicals. See if it’s NSF certified or if it’s certified by another third party, and look up that third party. See if all the ingredients are clearly labeled with quantities. If it says ‘proprietary blend,’ you should avoid it as you really don’t know what you’re buying,” explains Dr. Gersh, who puts a premium on organic ingredients as well.
Skip testosterone supplements: Though it seems counterintuitive, Dr. Sekhon advises against taking hormone replacement (testosterone) in an effort to boost male fertility. “Using testosterone can actually have the opposite effect – it can act as a male contraceptive – and worse, it can have permanent effects that may leave a man sterile,” she says.
Some multivitamins can do the trick: While there’s no magic pill for optimal fertility, because men make new sperm cells every three months, in many cases, there’s an ability to boost or improve one’s fertility. “This is a very uplifting fact, compared to the female system where a woman is born with all the eggs she’ll ever have and cannot make new eggs or repair them over time,” says Dr. Sekhon. She adds that most regular multivitamins will be helpful in boosting male fertility because they’ll provide the vitamins and minerals the diet may be missing, improving overall health.
Ingredients to avoid: Dr. Gersh notes that there are some herbal supplements that should be avoided, including blue cohosh, pennyroyal, Andrographis, feverfew, juniper, licorice, nettle, red clover, rosemary, shepherd’s purse, catnip, and yarrow.
Consult your doc: According to Dr. Gersh, supplements won’t help everyone. “If a man had a prior vasectomy, supplementation cannot remedy that issue and a man with an extremely low sperm count should get fertility intervention immediately,” she says. Overall, if you are experiencing fertility problems, should always consult your primary care physician before embarking on any supplement regimen or seeking out any fertility treatment options.
RELATED: Trying to Conceive: Male Fertility Guide
Best Male Fertility Vitamins and Supplements
Amazon boasts a plethora of supplements aimed at men looking to improve their chances of fathering a child. Some of the top-reviewed products include:
One A Day Men & Women’s Pre-Pregnancy Multivitamin
With a 4.5-star rating and more than 4,400 reviews on Amazon, this One a Day product caters to both sides of the gender divide. For him, there is iron, lycopene, selenium, zinc, and vitamins C and E – and for female fertility, there is the vital folic acid (aka folate). The reviews seem to speak for themselves.
Promising review: “My husband and I have been trying to conceive for eight months. Each month passed and nothing despite tracking ovulation. I even bought test strips for ovulation. Nothing. We saw this one night while watching TV and decided we’d try them out. We started taking them on 6/22/17 and finally got a positive pregnancy test on 7/13/17. I honestly believe that the vitamin helped his sperm mobility. After my own research, Zinc and Lycopene together significantly increase speed mobility.” – A. Mendoza
$26.97 at Amazon.com
TruvaniI Vitamin C
According to Dr. Gersh, men should take a minimum dose of 100 mg daily of vitamin C to improve sperm count and mobility. Vitamin C has been shown to increase sperm count and motility, while also improving its shape. Many experts chalk this increase up to the antioxidant – or anti-inflammatory – properties. TruvaniI Vitamin C, which is USDA Organic, is formulated with 135 mg. The brand, founded by healthy living influencer Vani Hari, is known for transparency.
Positive review: “It makes me feel so much better when I know exactly what I’m putting in my body. And I love that Truvani only uses the highest quality products. It makes being healthy much easier!” – Melanie Ginsburg
$24.99 at Amazon.com
Beli for Men
“Some factors related to fertility are beyond your control. But you would be surprised how much power you have over the health and vitality of your sperm,” says Edmund Sabanegh, MD, Department Chair of Urology at Cleveland Clinic. It’s true. Studies have linked nutrients like L-carnitine, vitamins C and E, N-acetyl-l-cysteine, zinc, and CoQ10 to a four-fold increase in fertility. You’ll find these and other science-backed ingredients in Beli’s Vitality Blend, a plant-based, vegan supplement designed to optimize reproductive and sperm health. The scientifically-aligned formulation is the first to include Shilajit, a known adaptogen shown to improve sperm count, overall sperm quality, and male fertility in general.
Positive review: “My husband and I started trying for a family about 6+ years ago. After a year of no success, we had testing done. One thing that came back was my husband’s sperm count being low and IVF was recommended. We decide to make dietary and lifestyle changes first. After a few years, my husband’s counts improved to a “good/B+ grading”. And it’s remained that way for the last two years. Then we found Beli a few months ago, and my husband’s most recent sperm analysis revealed “excellent/A+grading”! Beli was the only change in the last 90 days and I truly believe it’s what made the difference! And it’s the fastest change we’ve ever seen! I HIGHLY recommend Beli for Men.”
$50 at BeliBaby.com
Zinc – NOW Supplements ADAM Men’s Multivitamin
Dr. Gersh also recommends zinc supplementation, with a dose of 15 to 30 mg daily. “Zinc has compelling data to suggest it’s important in boosting sperm motility,” adds Dr. Sekhon. One good option is NOW Supplements ADAM Men’s Multivitamin. It’s affordable, reviewers say the soft gels are easy-to-swallow, and besides the 15 mg of zinc, it’s loaded with other fertility-boosting ingredients from our doctor-approved list. While zinc is present in most men’s multivitamin supplements, it’s not always at the recommended dose of at least 15 mg, so read labels carefully.
Promising review: “Love this product as the vitamins are easily digestible and work better than other ones I’ve tried.” – Gregg C
$21.27 at Amazon.com
Vitamin E – Garden of Life Multivitamin for Men
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that works to enhance fertility. “Vitamin E is known to be helpful in protecting sperm from oxidative stress and damage,” says Dr. Sekhon. It’s important to note that although vitamin E is a popular ingredient in male fertility supplements, it can have adverse effects if taken in the company of weight-loss drugs, blood thinners, or bile acid sequestrants. Garden of Life Multivitamin for Men is formulated with 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin E – along with many other vitamins on this list that are shown to be helpful, like zinc.
Promising review: “A multivitamin that ACTUALLY works. Used other junk for years, and never really felt a difference. I can honestly say that just after two days of taking this, I feel much more energetic, alert, and alive!” – Justin
$36.94 at Amazon.com
VED’s Coenzyme Q10
Dr. Gersh recommends taking 500 mg daily of Coenzyme Q10. VED’s Coenzyme Q10 has overwhelmingly positive reviews with many buyers saying the supplement not only works but is easy to swallow and the soft gel tablets don’t stick to each other. Coenzyme Q10 is also one of the most popular supplements for women looking to boost their fertility.
Promising review: “One of the best things I’ve ever bought!” and “it was what the doctor ordered, no fuss, no problem.” – Curlie
$32.99 at Amazon.com
âRELATED: Best Multivitamins for Men
Nutricost D-Aspartic Acid (DAA)
As noted above, studies have found that the amino acid D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) has proven to be helpful for infertile men as it improves sperm quality. With this supplement, you don’t have to worry about a bunch of unnecessary ingredients being thrown into the mix. Each capsule contains 3000mg of D-Aspartic Acid (DAA), gelatin, and vegetable magnesium stearate, that’s all.
Promising review: “Bought this product after reading about its benefits for fertility. Well less than a month on this stuff and the old lady is pregnant!” – Nicholas Riquinha
$17.95 at Amazon.com
Double Wood Supplements Acetyl L Carnitine
Dr. Gersh recommends a dose of one to three grams of this per day to boost sperm quality. Double Wood Supplements provides 1,000 mg per serving of Acetyl L Carnitine. In addition to the fertility benefits, it’s said to be great for mood and memory.
Promising review: “Skeptical, but I tried this after researching details. There was a difference in 2 or 3 days. I skipped a few days and then tried again. Amazing that it works so exactly….in more ways than one. Excellent product.” – Larry & Stefi J.
$16.95 at Amazon.com
B vitamins – One A Day Men’s Health Formula
A high-quality comprehensive B complex will boost sperm motility according to Dr. Gersh. One A Day Men’s Health Formula is a wonderful option formulated with vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12. Eighty-four percent of the 747 reviews on Amazon are 5-star. Note, however, that a good chunk of reviews point out that these pills can be challenging to swallow. This is often the case with multivitamins so make sure to take them with food to avoid an upset stomach.
Promising review: “These are a great value for the price and quantity you get. There’s no flavor so I left that blank but they are easy to swallow.” – Keysmetal
$27.18 at Amazon.com
NatureWise Vitamin D3
Dr. Gersh suggests aiming for 2000 IU daily to improve sperm quality and enhance fertility. Fertility aside, most people don’t get enough vitamin D, especially in the winter, making this one of the most essential vitamins to add to consume daily. Vitamin D also happens to be one of the more affordable supplements. You can get a year’s supply for less than $15 with NatureWise Vitamin D3. This vitamin is relatively small and goes down easily, which helps to explain its positive reviews on Amazon.
Promising review: “Excellent product, great prices! Exact dosage as a much more expensive D3 5000 we had purchased, plus this one is in organic extra virgin olive oil! This is the third NatureWise product we have tried; we are very pleased with the quality, prices, and shipping.” – T.Whit
$14.49 at Amazon.com
Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength Supplement
According to Dr. Gersh, taking 1 to 2 grams of omega 3 fatty acid daily can help improve sperm and enhance fertility. Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength Supplement is one of the more popular options with more than 21,000 reviews on Amazon of which 79 percent are 5-star. Many of the reviewers mention that, unlike competing products, this supplement is easy to swallow and doesn’t cause burping/an upset stomach.
Promising review: “I was dreading it because all others that I have tried produced disgusting burps/diarrhea. These taste great, go down easy, no burps or stomach upset. As an added bonus, after one week of taking them, my arthritis has disappeared. I take as directed, two pills, three times a day, with a meal. Thank God for these miracle pills!” – Steve
$29.96 at Amazon.com
Acetyl L-carnitine – Original Orthomol Fertil Plus
As noted above, Acetyl L-carnitine, or ALC, has shown positive benefits when used to treat male infertility. Original Orthomol Fertil Plus includes L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, L-Ascorbic Acid, vitamin E, zinc, folic acid, coenzyme Q10. This supplement seems quite comprehensive making it a solid option for anyone who isn’t looking to take a bucket of various supplements.
Promising review: “Thank you.” – Amazon customer
$99.99 at Amazon.com
ViriliTea Male Fertility Tea
Looking for a more herbal, holistic option to improve your fertility? Fairhaven Health has you covered. Instead of taking a pill, those who purchase ViriliTea can take a stab at improving their chances of conception via a piping hot cup of tea. The tea is infused with maca, Siberian ginseng, goji berry, and a host of other herbal solutions, and claims a variety of positive reviews from seemingly satisfied customers.
Promising review: “I expected this to be a bad tasting product but I did enjoy the taste of the tea very much, and although I have been taking Fertilaid as well, I feel that this product has helped my sexual function and performance. We are not pregnant yet, but I feel that these are good supplements for me on our road to fertility.” – Jon
$18.95 at Fairhavenhealth.com
BONUS: Baby Dance Fertility Lubricant
While pills and teas and other edible solutions may be all the rage, one thing that’s often overlooked when considering fertility is the act itself. Pointing out that traditional lubricants contain a host of ingredients that make the vaginal canal hostile to sperm after the deed is done, Baby Dance offers a new sexual solution for those lovebirds trying to conceive the natural way. Matching the pH level of both semen and the cervix – at 7 – this product seeks to make the long journey to the waiting egg a pleasant one.
Promising review: “Found out five days ago that I was pregnant after only using Baby Dance 1 month. Not sure if it was just my time or this helped!” – Elissa
$19.95 at Fairhavenhealth.com
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