Male fertility is determined by various factors, among them adequate semen count, healthy sperm and adequate semen volume. When these are optimum, chances are that you your sperm will be more fertile and you will have larger sperm volume. However, a challenge with one of these can lead to shooting blanks or inability to shoot at all. However, you can improve your odds by making some dietary and lifestyle changes. But, would increasing lycopene intake improve semen count?
We will be looking at this. But first, let us discuss the different ways in which you can increase semen volume naturally.
Increasing semen naturally
Nutrition is probably the best way to improve your semen count and semen volume. For starters, a diet containing more fruits and vegetables improves sperm count, quality and ability to swim. Studies carried out at the University of Rochester on the effects of diet on fertility in men found that 83 percent of a group of infertile men rarely ate fruits and vegetables. In comparison, 60 percent of the fertile men regularly ate more fruits and vegetables.
Other dietary and lifestyle changes that can help improve your semen volume and sperm quality include the following:
Eat more tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant carotenoid known as lycopene. According to many studies, fertile men have more lycopene in their seminal fluid than their infertile counterparts. The studies also found that there is more lycopene in the prostate gland than in any other part of the body.
Maintain a healthy weight
Research shows that obese and overweight men are 50 percent more likely to suffer from infertility compared to men of average weight. Increased body fat causes an increase in conversion of testosterone to the female sex hormone, estrogen. This adversely affects the ability of the testicles to produce sperm and leads to low sperm count. If you think you might be overweight, consult a healthcare provider for advice on how to maintain a healthy weight for your body.
Avoid trans fats
Whether in cooking or in processed foods like potato chips, cookies, crackers, margarine, frozen foods, cereal and fast foods, you should avoid or limit your intake of trans fats. Studies have shown that men who consume high amounts of trans fats have low sperm count.
Avoid soy and soy products
Some research studies including one at the Harvard School of Public Health, indicate that men who consume lots of soy and soy products like soy milk, tofu, soy flour and soy meat substitutes, are likely to have lower sperm levels than those who don’t eat soy. Soy contains compounds known as isoflavones which have a similar effect in the body as the female hormone, estrogen.
Avoid or limit sugar intake
Consumption of excess sugar such as table sugar, fructose and fruit concentrate, and in form of refined carbohydrates, elevates your blood sugar level which in turn causes a rise in insulin levels. If this happens most of the time, your insulin resistance rises so that your pancreas has to work harder to produce more insulin to process the sugar. In such a state, your body produces weaker sperms with poor swimming ability.
Reduce alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol consumption causes a decrease in testosterone level, interferes with the production of other hormones, and adversely affects the working of the Sertoli cells which are responsible for maturing of sperms in the testicles. While an occasional drink is safe, drinking too much alcohol leads to reduced sperm count and an increase in abnormal sperms.
Reduce caffeine intake
Some studies indicate that high caffeine intake can cause DNA damage in sperms. For better sexual health, experts advise that men should limit their coffee intake to not more than two cups per day.
Is lycopene a semen super booster?
What is lycopene
Lycopene is a red-colored carotenoid found in some fruits and vegetables. It is responsible for the red, orange and yellow colors of tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit and carrots. However, not all foods with these colors contain lecopene. Some green plants also contain lycopene.
According to this study, carotenoids like lycopene have antioxidant properties. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals which cause damage to sperm DNA. In doing this, lycopene helps the body to produce healthier sperms with better capacity to swim within a woman’s sexual organs and to ultimately fertilize an ovum.
In this study of the concentration of lycopene and other antioxidants in human semen, it was found that fertile men have higher levels of the antioxidants than infertile men. The low levels of lycopene may be a possible reason of male infertility because with low antioxidants, the semen will have high levels of free radicals. This would cause increased oxidation and oxidative stress leading to more damaged spermatozoa which may contribute to infertility.
According to this and this study, processed tomatoes contain the highest amounts of lycopene. Besides, other studies including this, have found that lycopene from heat processed tomatoes eaten with oil is about two and a half times better absorbed than that from raw tomatoes.
Several other studies (1,2,) also show that lycopene can help slow down or prevent prostate cancer growth. It works as a powerful antioxidant that traps and neutralizes free radicals. These actions help reduce oxidative stress, thereby protecting against DNA damage and growth of cancers of the prostate, lung and breast. Note that semen is produced within the prostate gland. Therefore, by improving prostate health, lycopene improves the capacity of the prostate gland to produce semen. This way, lycopene also works as a semen super booster and is critical for healthy male fertility.
Natural sources of Lycopene
Lycopene gives vegetables and fruits their red, orange and yellow colors and is more likely to be found in fruits and vegetables of such colors. It may, however, also be found in vegetables and fruits of other colors.
Natural sources of lycopene include:
- Red cabbage
Various studies including this one, have found that taking oral lycopene supplements increases lycopene levels in seminal fluid.
If you wish to improve your prostate health and thereby increase production of semen and healthy sperms, here are some lycopene supplements to choose from:
- Swanson Lycopene
- KRK Lycopene
- Healthy Origins Lyc-O-Mato Lycopene
- Puritan’s Pride Lycopene
- Naturessunshine Men’s Formula w/Lycopene
Supplement dosage recommendation
Reviews of various studies (1,2) concluded that supplementation with 4 – 8 mg of lycopene daily for 3 to 12 months may treat some types of male infertility. This is equivalent to 150 g of tomatoes or 80 grams of watermelon.
According to Drugs.com, typical dosages of lycopene range between 13 and 75 mg per day. This study, of human adults on lycopene restricted diet, found that supplementating with 6.5 to 30 mg per day had significant DNA protective abilities.
From these findings, it appears that supplementing with an average of 10 – 30 mg of lycopene per day would be reasonable. Incidentally, most of the lycopene supplements in the market provide gels or capsules whose lycopene concentration is within this range.
Many studies have found that while lycopene does not increase semen volume directly, it helps protect the prostate gland and spermatozoa from free radicals and oxidative stress. The resultant improved prostate and sperm health positively impacts fertility. The overall impact is increased volume and quality of semen. It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that by increased intake of lycopene increases semen count.