Herbs to Increase Sperm Count, Volume, Motility, and Overall Sperm Health
We discuss various nutrients and dietary supplements in this article that may or may not be helpful. If you purchase recommended products, services, or treatments, it may benefit CNY Fertility financially. Read more about our financial relationships here. The supplements discussed in this article are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, take any medications, or have been diagnosed with a medical condition, consult with a healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.
Male fertility is a big deal. A 2017 meta-analysis that reviewed 185 studies and over 40,000 men in North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia found that sperm count has declined more than 59% from 1973 to 2011.
While a 2021 study raises concerns over this 2017 study, the fact remains that sperm health is important.
So what do herbs have to do with any of this? Well, many studies referenced in this article have demonstrated various herbs have the potential to positively impact sperm count, motility, and more. As such, this article will review a number of herbs that may help increase male fertility.
Ashwagandha May Increase Sperm Count, Motility, and Volume
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a medicinal herb native to India that’s been used for thousands of years as part of the traditional Indian medicine known as Ayurveda. While many parts of the plants are used, most of the beneficial properties and preparations come from the root.
One placebo-controlled study of 42 men showed that taking 675 mg of ashwagandha per day for 90 days significantly increased several key fertility measures.
Compared to levels at the start of the study, 90-day supplementation of ashwagandha increased sperm counts by 167%, motility by 57%, semen volume by 53%, and testosterone by 17%. Such improvements were not detected amongst those who received a placebo.
Reducing stress is one way in which this Ayurvedic herb may help improve sperm health.
Stress has been shown to negatively impact male fertility. Chronic stress may negatively impact testosterone and LH production which are critical for sperm development. Similarly, a number of studies have shown that ashwagandha may play a significant role in managing stress.
In one double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled study, participants with a history of chronic stress who took 600 mg of Ashwagandha daily for 8 weeks had a 27.9% reduction in serum cortisol levels. In addition to the reduction in this key stress biomarker, those who took ashwagandha scored 44%, 72.9%, and 71.6% lower on various different stress and anxiety scales.
Another study of those taking only 240 mg of the ashwagandha herb for 60 days showed similar results with a 23% reduction in morning levels of cortisol and associations with subjective feelings of anxiety and stress.
A meta-analysis of five studies backs these studies up further, demonstrating those who took this ayurvedic herb experienced lower levels of stress and anxiety.
Shilajit is a naturally occurring tar-like substance that is taken as a supplement and another “herb” used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.
It is reported to have many different benefits for male fertility. One small study noted increases in several sperm parameters after taking Shilajit for 90 days. Of the 28 men who completed the study, a 61% increase in sperm count and a 12-17% increase in sperm motility were observed.
Another study found an increase in total testosterone by 23% and an increase in free testosterone by 19%.
Another unique way in which Shilajit may support male reproductive health is through synergistic effects with CoQ10. CoQ10 is a molecule that fuels cellular energy by supporting mitochondrial function and has potent antioxidant activity. Likely due to these properties, CoQ10 is also well studied and known for its ability to help increase sperm count, motility and more.
One study looking at muscular ATP levels after strenuous exercise split mice into four groups: CoQ10 + Exercise, Shilajit + Exercise, CoQ10 and Shilajit + Exercise, and Exercise Alone (control). ATP is the energy currency used in biological systems, and as mentioned, CoQ10 is involved in energy production.
The study showed that while the CoQ10 and Shilajit groups both had elevated ATP levels compared to the control group after exercise, the CoQ10 and Shilajit combined group had even higher levels of ATP. In fact, the post-exercise CoQ10 + Shilajit mice had nearly the ATP levels of pre-exercise control mice.
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) is a tree shrub found in Southeast Asia that is commonly used as a traditional herbal medicine for a variety of ailments.
Similar to the above-mentioned herbs it may help support sperm count, motility, and other measures of male fertility.
One study of 75 men found that taking 200 mg of Tongkat Ali per day improved sperm count and motility.
While the results differed slightly each month compared to baseline, count, motility, volume, and morphology improved significantly in most instances.
During the course of supplementation, there were 11 spontaneous pregnancies, 6 of which took place in the first month and 5 in the second month.
Other studies have shown similar promising results.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a short herb-like plant that has been used for thousands of years as traditional medicine and in foods as a common spice in Indian dishes.
One study of 50 male volunteers aged 35-65 taking 500mg of a patented Fenugreek extract standardized to 20% protodioscin noted that 85.4% of the studied population showed increases in sperm count, and 14.6% showed increases in sperm morphology.
That said, research on Fenugreek and male fertility is quite limited.
Tribulus Terrestris, also known as puncture vine, goat’s head, and more, is a small leafy plant widely distributed throughout the globe.
The fruit, as well as the root of the plant, have been used for a long time in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurveda medicine.
In an in vitro study where human sperm from 40 males was incubated with extracts of the Tribulus Terrestris herb, both sperm motility and count were enhanced.
Another study of 65 men who were given 250 mg of Tribulus extract demonstrated significant improvements in sperm concentration and motility.
Still, there is very limited research on Tribulus Terrestris and its effect on male fertility.
Maca root is a plant native to Peru that has been used traditionally to enhance male fertility and libido. Known scientifically as Lepidium meyenii, Maca is sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng.
Maca is actually a cruciferous vegetable and thus related to broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and other common vegetables. It has a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Peru and has recently gained substantial popularity in both powder and capsuled forms as a supplement.
The main edible and medicinal part of the plant is the root which is usually dried and consumed in powder form, though it can also be taken in a capsule or as a liquid extract.
A small study of 9 men taking 1500 or 3000 mg of maca root found that after 4 months, semen volume, sperm count, and sperm motility were all improved.
A meta-analysis that looked at 5 small studies, including the one mentioned above, supported the idea that Maca may indeed improve sperm quality.
Male Fertility Supplements with Herbs to Support Sperm Count and Motility
While you can certainly run out and get all of these herbs separately to try and help improve your sperm health, some may find it helpful to turn to a single product that contains a few of these herbs along with other vitamins and nutrients that have been shown to support male fertility.
Our team at CNY Fertility developed our own line of supplements specifically designed to help support fertility called Molecular Fertility.
Molecular Fertility’s Male Preconception+ is CNY’s go-to male fertility supplement as it combines a hefty dose of Ashwagandha and Shilajit with other key nutrients like CoQ10, Zinc, Selenium, Lycopene, two types of Carnitine, NAC, and much more.
Other Helpful Tips:
Get some sleep
Everyone seems to know the importance of a good night’s sleep, but you may not know that your sperm are quite dependent upon it. Several relatively large studies have found that sleep duration and quality to correlated to sperm motility, concentration, sperm count, and morphology.
Men today are much more likely to be exposed to environmental toxins than just about any time throughout human history, and a multitude of studies have suggested toxic exposure is quite the detriment to sperm health.
Toxins are in food, cookware, bottles, and cleaning agents we encounter every day. It can be tough, but try to limit the use of products known to contain toxins and be mindful of the food you consume and how it’s prepared.
Smoking seems to be bad for just about every aspect of human health, so is it really a surprise that it is absolutely detrimental to sperm health. A multitude of studies have shown this unsurprising fact, so if you’re still smoking, it’s best to try and stop and seek professional help if needed.
Similar to cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol consumption is also linked to poor sperm motility, count, and more.
If you are a heavy drinker, we suggest stopping; if you don’t, there really are no amounts of herbs that can help your sperm.
Get some sun
Around 40% of adult males in the U.S. suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Similar to other vitamin deficiencies, vitamin D is important for fertility and levels have been linked to sperm motility, count and more.
If you don’t get much sunshine, it’s likely recommended that you supplement with some.
Get Some Antioxidants
Fruits have a host of antioxidants that have been shown to support male fertility, but they are also loaded with sugar that has some negative consequences on sperm.
For this reason, it may be better to get your sperm-enhancing antioxidants in supplement form. As mentioned above, the Male Preconception+ is our go-to and is loaded with antioxidants, nutrients, and herbs to support sperm motility, count, and overall health.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for herbs to improve your sperm health, you’re on to something. A number of herbs have been shown in studies to increase sperm count, motility, morphology, and other aspects of male fertility.
Sperm take approximately 70-90 days to develop, so be sure that measures you take to support your male fertility are done consistently for as long as possible to ensure your sperm are developing that entire time in an optimal environment.
Remember, though, that it’s important to consult with a healthcare specialist if you are taking medications or have any medical conditions.