People tend to associate age-related fertility problems with women. While it is true that women have a set fertility cycle, men’s fertility can also be negatively impacted by the aging process. Men are not immune to declining fertility as they age. The lifestyle and dietary choices they make in their younger years can take a toll on their reproductive health.
Just as more modern-day women are holding off on trying to conceive until they are older, so too are their male partners. This trend brings with it more challenges for many trying to achieve pregnancy naturally.
According to a review of studies on the effects of aging on male fertility, “…Although numerical chromosomal abnormalities of spermatozoa are not higher in aging males, an increase in structural aberrations* can be observed. Consequently, children of elderly fathers show a 20% higher risk for autosomal dominant** diseases, presumably due to increasing numbers of germ cell meioses and mitoses. Thus, the American Fertility Society recommends an age limit for semen donors of 50 years or less.”
Sperm health alone is not the only reproductive health factor to consider though. Sex drive, stamina, prostate health and sperm count must also be considered.
Fertility issues men may face as they age:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low libido
- Poor sperm health
- Low sperm count
- Poor prostate health
In men with any of the above issues – along with eating a nutrient dense male fertility diet, regular exercise and a daily stress reduction practice – the following nutritional supplements can be considered as part of a fertility health plan…
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant and it comes in two forms, ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Research shows that as we age it becomes harder for the body to convert CoQ10 ubiquinone to the active form ubiquinol, which is much more potent. Because of this it is advised to supplement with ubiquinol when over the age of 30.
Ubiquinol has been shown to protect sperm health and the genetic code they contain; the DNA. It also improves cellular energy, helping to improve sperm motility. One study showed improved fertilization rates after men, who previously had low fertilization rates, supplemented with 60mg of CoQ10 daily for 103 days.
A potent antioxidant, L-Carnitine helps to prevent free radical damage to the mitochondria (energy center of every cell in the body) which can help delay the aging process. It also improves fatty acid utilization, which is extremely important for sperm membrane health.
In regard to hormonal health, L-Carnitine is hepatoprotective, meaning it supports liver health for improved hormone metabolism. In aging men, it has been shown to improve sexual function, mood and energy. L-Carnitine in combination with CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to enhance cellular health and fertility longevity.
This amino acid has been shown to improve blood circulation and is antistress/anxiolytic (inhibits anxiety), modifying hormonal response during psychosocial stress. This makes it useful for stress induced erectile dysfunction (ED). L-Arginine also helps with ED by increasing nitric oxide (NO), which has been shown to help regulate Luteinizing Hormone Releasing Hormone (LHRH ) release from the hypothalamus which activates penile erection. These combined actions also make it useful for increasing libido.
This type of medicinal mushroom is an endocrine modulator which helps to regulate testosterone and cortisol production. Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) has been shown to help restore sexual function by aiding the body in increasing testosterone, making it useful for increasing sperm count. Acting as an adaptogen, it enhances endocrine system function (regulation of hormones), boosts energy and increases endurance, all important for sexual function.
The extract of the berry of the palm Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens, Serenoa serrulata) is comprised of 85% fatty acids, and has been shown to support overall reproductive health in men and women. Many herbalists use this herb for protecting and improving male fertility from the impact of harmful lifestyle and environmental factors.
Saw Palmetto specifically helps support a healthy prostate. This herb has been shown to help reduce Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and improving testosterone breakdown and excretion. Each year in the United States, more than 26 million are affected by BPH, according to the School of Medicine and Public Health, UW Health, at the University of Wisconsin. BPH may affect male fertility by minimizing the secretion of semen, the fluid that nourishes and protects sperm during ejaculation.
Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) is a stimulating tonic for the immune, sexual and reproductive system in both men and women. In men, it has been shown to increase DHEA and testosterone levels, important hormones for spermatogenesis and libido. This herb is useful for impotence, low libido and male infertility.
Tribulus is mood-enhancing and liver protective; aiding hormone balance. In addition, research in Bulgaria showed that Tribulus reduces antisperm antibodies, a condition in which the body attacks the sperm cells.
Also known as Horny Goat Weed, Epimedium (Epimedium grandiflorum, E. brevicornum, E. sagittatum, E. koreanum), has long been used for erectile dysfunction, but what many don’t know is that it supports graceful aging as well. According to herbalist Donald Yance, “Epimedium is particularly useful for fortifying vital essence and providing fuel to an aging endocrine-hormonal system… I rarely consider this herb as the chief herb of a formula but use it rather as a supportive herb that often comprises 10-20% of the formula”.
Research shows this herb can increase sperm count. In regard to sperm health due to aging, Epimedium has a strong antioxidant effect shown to accelerate DNA repair of aging cells; prolonging their lifespan.
There are many tools to help men ensure their sperm, sexual and reproductive health is in tip top shape prior to conception – at any age. Because the chance of male fertility issues increase as a man ages, it is important to take the steps necessary to support their fertility health. Start today! Not only will you help to improve the health of your future offspring, but your quality of life, including your sex life.
If you are struggling with age-related male infertility, we offer private, supportive natural fertility consultations. Contact us to learn how we can help you…
- Plas E, Berger P, Hermann M, & Pflüger H. (Aug. 2000). Effects of aging on male fertility? E xp Gerontol ;35(5):543-51. Retrieved online from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10978677
- Kidd SA, Eskenazi B & Wyrobek AJ. (Feb. 2001). Effects of male age on semen quality and fertility: a review of the literature. Fertil Steril. ;75(2):237-48. Retrieved online from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11172821
- Balercia, G., Mancini, A., Paggi, F., Tiano, L., Pontecorvi, et al. (2009). Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility. Journal of endocrinological investigation, 32 (7), 626-632. Retrieved online from: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03346521
- Sinatra, S.T. (1998). The Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon. McGraw Hill
- Sinatra, S. (1999). LCarnitine and the Heart: How the powerful combination of Lcarnitine and CoQ10 can have a positive impact on one’s health and wellbeing. (pp. 7-15). Los Angeles: Keats Publishing
- Yance, D.R. (2013) Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism – Elite Herbs and Natural Compounds for Mastering Stress, Aging and Chronic Disease; LCarnitine: pp. 491-96, LArginine: pp. 485-91, Cordyceps: pp. 397-401, Saw Palmetto; pp. 575-79, Tribulus: pp. 603-09, Epimedium: pp. 418-23. Healing Arts Press.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). (May 23, 2016). Retrieved from https://www.uwhealth.org/urology/benign-prostatic-hyperplasia-bph/20558
- Stanislavov, R., & Nikolova, V. (2000). Tribulus terrestris and human male fertility: I. Immunological Aspects. Comptes Rendus de l’Academie Bulgare des Sciences, 53(10), 107
- US National Library of Medicine. Encyclopedia. Autosomal dominant. Retrieved online from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002049.htm
- University of Leicester. Virtual Genetic Education Centre. Structural Aberrations. Retrieved online from: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/genetics/vgec/healthprof/topics/patterns-ofinheritance/chromosomal-abnormalities#structural-aberrations
*Structural Aberrations: These occur due to a loss or genetic material, or a rearrangement in the location of the genetic material. They include: deletions, duplications, inversions, ring formations, and translocations. Click here to learn more…
**Autosomal dominant: Autosomal dominant is one of several ways that a trait or disorder can be passed down (inherited) through families. Click here to learn more…