Dear Dr. G,

I read with interests your few articles advising readers about sex during festivity.

Since everyone is still in the mood for Chinese New Year (and hopefully sex), I am jumping onto the bandwagon and asking Dr. G about something slightly different, namely the byproduct of sex.

I am not a big fan of CNY. Being the only son in the family, balik kampung has been rather stressful, as my wife and I remain childless.

After being married for the last five years, we are still very much in love and active in lovemaking. Despite our effort in having sex during the fertile period, there is still no sign of any pregnancy.

My wife and I have visited the gynaecologist, who confirmed that she is healthy and fertile. Sadly, the culprits are my non-performing crown jewels in the sacs.

The doctors tested my semen and told me the quality is weak, and needs some boasters to enhance the performance.

On the second week of CNY, I would like to put Dr. G on the spot on the issue of weak gametes.

What exactly is defined as poor quality sperms and why are my sperms weak?

What are the natural ways that I can salvage the gametes in my pants?

My wife and I are great believers of traditional medicine. Are there scientific data to support the influence of herbal ingredients on sperm quality?

Finally, can you also suggest any food or natural remedies that will ensure this year to be my crowning glory of a baby, from the jewels in my sacs?

Yours truly,
Sorrowed Samuel

The World Health Organization (WHO) had outlined the guidelines on male infertility in recent years. According to the studies, experts revealed that a healthy sperm count should exceed 15 million per ml, or at least 39 million per ejaculate. Other considerations include 4% of the gametes exhibiting normal morphology, with 40% of them being active are also necessary for higher chances of fertilisation. Men who produce lower quantity of sperm with high degree of abnormality or inactiveness, are often thought to be associated with male-factor infertility.

For many decades, scientists had documented the overall decline in the quality of sperms, especially in Western nations. A recent study in 2017 revealed that sperm counts in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand plummeted by nearly 60% between 1973 and 2011. Although the exact etiology of harm to human sperms are largely unknown, intense research are being carried out in order to reverse the deterioration, or at least prevent further detrimental decline.

Practitioners of traditional medicine and herbalists have outlined the impact of several ingredients to boost the sperm quality over many generations. In recent years, science has supported such remedies in influencing the sperm quality to some degree.

Ashwagandha, or better known as Indian Ginseng, has long played a role as traditional medicine for sexual dysfunction in Indian subcontinent. A 2013 study found that 46 males with low sperm counts taking 675mg of ashwagandha daily for 90 days resulted in 167% increase in sperm counts. Fenugreek, which is also a herb used in Indian Cuisine, has also been long utilised as a natural mean to revitalise the poor sperm health. One 2017 study found the compound Furosap, which is extracted from fenugreek seeds significantly improving semen quality. On the other hand, other studies also warned that regular consumption of both herbs could also increase other risks of serious medical side effects.

In reality, a balanced diet containing adequate Vitamin C, D, calcium, folic acid are all identified to be helpful to give poor quality semen a natural lift. A 2019 literature review of 18 studies, showed significant correlation of healthy sperms in men who have higher levels of calcium and Vitamin D in the blood. Other food that is rich in anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C and beta carotene are well described to deactivate free radicals that is believed to damage the sperm DNA. Lastly, another review of three studies in 2019 also uncovered men with infertility, supplemented with omega 3 fatty acid experienced significant improvement in sperm motility and concentration.

A happier reproductive time for fertile men is in his youth, when all is crème de la crème. Unfortunately, the tests of time will take the glee off the crown jewels, and the shine is further dampened if stress, obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse are also part of the lifestyle. In truth, practising a healthy lifestyle such as regular exercise, less stress and balanced diet is often key to regaining the momentum in spermatogenesis, and that dietary supplements are often just the icing on the cake.

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