The ins and outs of male fertility

A man should not be judged on sperm count alone. Sperm analysis measures the health of sperm at the time of the test and are based on hormones, nutrients and inflammation. Results that are outside normal should be considered a symptom and the root cause of that symptom should be addressed. Results that are inside normal do not indicate optimum fertility, just optimum sperm health. When 40-50% of  infertility is due to male factor, the sperm analysis results are not the only factor that has to do with male fertility.


For sperm to be healthy, they require nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and other nutrient factors:

Folate is not just for women and it can actually make sperm  stronger on a genetic level. In order to make folate work more effectively, methly-B12 and vitamin B6 are required. Folate is the more absorbable form of folic acid, and therefore folate is the more suitable supplement.

NAC makes glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant necessary for detoxifying toxic substances. To erase a toxic exposure and detoxify chemicals, NAC can be used to clean up the liver and cellular debris from ifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, or a toxic job like welding or being an electrician.

Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant and also helps for energy also called ATP production. The recommended dose is 80-300mg.

Vitamin C plays an important role in protecting the sperm’s DNA from damage. Vitamin C levels are much higher in seminal fluid compared to other body fluids, including blood. Vitamin C appears to increase sperm counts. 1000-3000 mg/day.

Vitamin E has been shown to enhance the ability of sperm to fertilize an egg in test tubes 600-800 IU/day. Please use mixed tocopherols.

Vitamin B12 supplementation appears to be warranted in men with sperm counts less than 20 million per mL or a motility rate of less than 50%. Methly-B12 is the best kind. I prefer injection but 10mg/day is also effective.

Arginine is required for the replication of cells, making it essential in sperm formation 4 g/day.

Carnitine is essential for the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria 300-1000 mg.

It takes 70-130 days to make sperm. Retest in 3 months to see if there was a nutrient deficiency. Nutrients should also come from the diet and inflammatory agents in the diet should be eliminated to make strong healthy sperm.

An anti inflammatory diet high in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, good oils and lean meat is a very powerful tool in supporting the creation of healthy sperm. This means just food, no filler. No coffee or tea. No alcohol. No white, brown or cane sugar. No dairy and no grains. Just food. and are 2 websites that are grain and dairy free and great resources. This intervention has been one of the most successful protocols for male fertility.

Inflammation is a primary factor in male fertility but can be very difficult to determine by testing. Symptoms of inflammation include anxiety, depression, lack of energy, headaches, digestive issues, skin issues or any symptom that indicate a less than optimum organ system that may not be directly related to reproductive health. The adrenal glands are an important system to assess when looking at male fertility.

The adrenal glands are the only other area in the body that make testosterone and therefore must be functioning optimally. Stress or stressors can tell adrenal glands to go into fight or flight mode. If the body thinks it’s running from a bear, having a child is not high on the priority list. Stressors are often not emotional but physical such as food allergies or nutrient deficiencies. The adrenal glands can be tested for sub optimum function.

Blood testing for hormones and nutrients can be very helpful for a look at what is happening inside the body. Keep in mind that hormone testing in the blood is not always completely accurate because hormones travel in the blood and act on the tissue. Determining substances in the blood en route to the end point is only a piece of a larger picture, but a good piece. Blood testing should include testosterone free and bound and dihydrotestosterone, LH, FSH, HAIC, cholesterol, ferritin, TSH, c-relative protein, ESR, vitamin D, vitamin B12, lead and mercury. Some testing goes deeper and determines genetic factors.

DNA damage is an important factor in male infertility. The methlyation pathway can be tested and optimized through treatment. We use a salivary DNA test through and then put the raw data collected through another website to develop a methlyation report. is the one we use. The results have been invaluable in making the sperm genetically stronger.  The genetic testing determines the genetic potential of a person but doesn’t tell what is actually happening in the tissue or the cells.

The OAT or the organic acid test is a combination of 76 tests that determine cellular pathways issues. The important tests will indicate if there are issues with energy pathways, detoxification pathways, neurotransmitters, essential fatty acids pathways, yeast and bacterial over load from the digestive system and absorption markers. These results approximate if sperm is able to be fed ATP or energy.  The OAT test is what is actually happening in the cells versus the genetic testing which provides a rough potential of what can happen in the body.  There are also toxins or insults that impair fertility that can be assessed.

Heavy metal testing is important to do if a man has a job or lifestyle that puts him in contact with heavy metals. This may include smokers, electricians, welders, tool and dye workers, those exposed to gun ammunition, those that eat lots of fish, or have mercury fillings. Male smokers have approximately 30% higher odds of infertility.

Male fertility is under tested. Healthy looking men have to have a full review of systems to make sure their bodies are not giving them symptoms of inflammation. If continued infertility, there are many avenues to pursue that have natural solutions.

Carissa Doherty ND, Natural Care Clinic

About Carissa

Dr Carissa Doherty, Naturopathic Doctor has been practicing in Burlington since 2005. The Natural Care Clinic is the culmination of over 8 years of training and a dream to bring Naturopathic Medicine to her patients and to Burlington.

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