Male Fertility


The male reproductive system is both internal and external. The testes, the two organs located within the scrotal act are the manufacturers of both sperm and the primary hormone Testosterone. Within each testis, coiled tubules contain two different types of cells; germ cells (immature sperm cells) and Sertoli cells. Between the tubules is a third type of cell called Leydig cells. Stroll cells nourish the sperm cells, whereas Leydig cells are responsible for producing Testosterone, which is necessary for normal sperm production.

Under the influence of Leydig and Sertoli cells, germ cells develop into mature sperm. This is an ongoing process that takes about 72-74 days of which about 50 days are spent in the testes and the remaining time is spent in the long ductal system.

Because spermatogenesis (production of sperm) takes about 70 days, the prospective father needs to watch his diet pre-conceptually with as much care as the mother, to avoid any problems with defective sperm.

As sperm mature, they pass from the testes through the coiled channels of the epididymis, an organ that stores and nourishes the sperm as they develop. Although sperm have tails when they enter the epididymis, normal movement (motility) is acquired only after 18-24 hours within the epididymis. It takes sperm about 14 days to travel through the epididymis where they then move into the vas deferens, a tubal structure that connects the epididymis with the seminal vesicles via a common ejaculatory duct. The seminal vesicles are pouch like glands that produce the majority of fluid seen through ejaculation.

Mature sperm then wait in the vas deferens until the man ejaculates, or expels fluid from his penis during intercourse. As the man ejaculates, sperm combines with fluid from the seminal vesicle and with a thick secretion from the prostate gland, which creates semen. This ejaculate is discharged through the erect penis and deposited into the woman’s vagina. The semen is gel-like and liquefies which enables the sperm to more effectively swim through the female reproductive tract and reach the ovum (egg).

Normally millions of sperm are deposited into the vagina, however as they swim through the cervix and uterus, up to the fallopian tube, their numbers decline. Only a few hundred sperm will get close to the egg, where they then must penetrate and fertilise the egg. Sperm are able to survive for 2-3 days within the female reproductive tract and the length of time that a woman’s egg can be fertilised by a man’s sperm are between 12-24 hours. No wonder each and every baby born are a miracles! So much effort from both the male and female is required for this amazing test of endurance to occur.

Several factors determine whether a man’s sperm is likely to fertilise and egg. Sperm motility and forward progression appear to be the most important.

The production of reproductive hormones is central to fertility, and Pituitary hormones initiate the sperm production process. The Pituitary gland secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH stimulates the production of sperm within the testicles and LH stimulates the production of Testosterone, the male hormone that helps maintain spermatogenesis as well as the male sexual characteristics.


Zinc is vital for a viable sperm count, motility and a high percentage of liver sperm in the semen. It is usually present in large amounts in semen, and excessive loss of semen through ejaculation, may lose 2 to 5mg of Zinc each day. This is the most important mineral for male reproductive health and a deficiency can cause chromosome aberrations. Begin taking a quality Zinc supplement at least 3 months prior to conception.


Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive. In sixty percent of male infertility the causes are known and can be divided broadly into three areas:

  1. faulty sperm production – quantity or quality
  2. anatomical obstruction
  3. other factors such as impotence

The single most common cause of male infertility is sperm production disorders. These can be either genetic or acquired and both may cause infertility by lowering sperm count, decreasing sperm motility or causing sperm agglutination.

Acquired sperm abnormalities may be the result of various factors such as contracting mumps after puberty, endocrine disorders, exposure to radiation or chemotherapy, immunological disorders where antibodies against the sperm are produced, nutritional deficiencies and drug or alcohol abuse.
Anatomical obstructions may be congenital or acquired. This could be caused from an enlarged prostate, scar tissue from surgery, the presence of varicose veins in the scrotum, undescended testes or trauma to the genitals. Other factors causing infertility include impotence, pre-mature ejaculation and faulty delivery of the sperm into the female genital tract.


  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, chemicals and additives, delicatessen meats and green potatoes
  • Cut down on salt, sugar and dairy products
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein and oily fish
  • Enjoy a green smoothie daily
  • Consume less animal fats
  • Increase Zinc status by increasing seafood, grains, nuts and seeds in the diet
  • Choose organic meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
  • Choose hormone free animal products


  • Zinc is vital for viable sperm count, motility and a high percentage of live sperm in the semen. It is present in large amounts in the semen and is lost through ejaculation
  • Selenium helps to increase sperm production and mortality and a deficiency can lead to deformities. This mineral is lost through ejaculation and is present in semen
  • B vitamins are needed for healthy testes, to increase sperm count and motility and to counteract stress reactions
  • Vitamin A is needed for sperm production, healthy testes and conversion of cholesterol to testosterone
  • Co-enzyme Q10 is found to increase sperm count and motility and has anti-oxidant effects which helps to protect the sperm against any physical changes
  • Vitamin C is necessary to prevent non-specific agglutination (the tendency to clump together) which can cause infertility. Good levels of Vitamin C can protect against genetic abnormalities and can increase fertility.
  • Fish oil (essential fatty acids) deficiency can lead to a general impairment in gonadal function and even chromosome defects
  • Vitamin E is required for good sperm count and a severe deficiency can lead to a lack of sperm
  • Amino acid supplementation is important if you have been on a long term vegetarian diet. Protein is essential for the optimal functioning of the testes, sperm production and motility. A deficiency can lead to chromosome aberrations. Fish, the best possible source, not only contains protein but has no saturated fats and is high in minerals and essential fatty acids
  • Herbal remedies which help to increase male fertility by working to balance hormones (Testosterone), improve sperm health and reduce oxidative stress to the sperm are: Tribulus, Saw Palmetto, Ginkgo, Panax Ginseng, Siberian Ginseng, Astragalus, Damiana and Sarsaparilla


  • Don’t smoke cigarettes. Nicotine can lead to atrophy of the testicles, low sperm count, poor motility and deformities
  • Manage stress
  • Exercise regularly and shed any excess weight
  • Heat and pressure kill sperm. Avoid hot baths, tight trousers and underpants and wetsuits to ensure high sperm count and motility
  • Avoid recreational drugs and speak to your Healthcare practitioner concerning any pharmaceutical medications
  • Consider a thorough liver detoxification program 3-6 months prior to conceiving to clean the body, prepare healthy sperm and ensure optimal nutrition
  • Avoid exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and fertilisers
  • Wear boxer shorts and loose fitting trousers to reduce pressure and heat to the scrotum