Analysis and Nutrient Support for Healthy Sperm
Jaclyn Chasse, ND
When it comes to conception, a lot of things (actually, an amazing number of things) have to go right. Of course, one huge factor for male fertility is the health of the sperm. Yet, the data on sperm health, and certainly the lab values used to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy sperm, are surprising.
Sperm quality has been on a continual decline for the last several decades. An interesting study in British Medical Journal reviewed 61 studies published between 1940 and 1990. Across those 50 years, sperm concentration in “normal” men declined from an average of 113 million sperm per mL of semen to only 66 million sperm per mL of semen.
It is suspected that this is the result of higher oxidative stress due to poor diet, exposure to environmental and industrial chemicals, and several other factors.
Current “normals” published by the World Health Organization can be deceiving when you’re taking a functional medicine approach to fertility, as they reflect a “normal” result for a man who is only in the 5th percentile for each respective result.
Below is the comparison between the 5th percentile (the published normal for labs) and the 50th percentile, a representative of the middle of the bell curve for where normal men fall.
|Lab||“Normal” Range||Optimal Range|
|Semen volume||>1.5 mL||>3 mL*|
|Sperm Concentration||> 15 million/mL||>75 million/mL*|
|Sperm Motility||> 32%||>61% (>55% progressive)*|
|Sperm Morphology||> 4% normal forms||>15%* normal forms|
|Semen Leukocytes||< 1 million/mL||None*|
*Based upon WHO 2010 values at 50th percentile for men who were able to impregnate their partners within 12 months. (Cooper et al. 2009)
If you determine that your patient has suboptimal sperm parameters, a focus on a healthy lifestyle and targeted supplementation can be beneficial. Decline in sperm health is driven by increases in inflammation, oxidative stress, and a decrease in mitochondrial function. So, supplements to address those factors can be beneficial.
Some nutrients with research to support sperm health include antioxidants like CoQ10, carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium.
 Carlsen et al. BMJ. 1992;305(6854):609.