- When do men take fertility drugs to increase sperm count?
- How do fertility drugs work in men?
- What are the different fertility drugs for men?
- For how long do men need to take the fertility drugs?
- What is the chance of pregnancy when using fertility drugs?
- Are there any side effects of fertility drugs in men?
- How much do fertility drugs cost?
- Natural fertility treatments
- Can male infertility be prevented?
Did you know?
- 10 to 20% of all men have low sperm cells.
- 2 to 3% of men are completely infertile and produce no sperm.
- Almost 15% of reproductive age individuals are affected by infertility with about 40% of them being men (1).
Conception problems are becoming more common in today’s world. However, modern and complementary medicineshave many solutions in increasing the sperm count and improving male fertility. MomJunction tells you about the various treatments for male infertility.
When Do Men Take Fertility Drugs?
Men take fertility drugs to increase their sperm count and motility. The male hormones should be healthy to produce healthy sperms. The anterior pituitary is responsible for controlling the male hormones and hence, the sperm production.Around 2% of men with infertility experience secondary hypogonadism (pituitary gland disease). It happens when the pituitary gland does not function well, preventing sperm and testosterone production. Men having this condition will either have no sperm or low sperm count (2). This condition is treatable with fertility pills.
However, there are very few drug options that work efficiently in stimulating the sperm production. These drugs have also been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for male infertility treatment. So, let’s take a look at how these drugs improve fertility in men.
How Do Fertility Drugs Work In Men?
Fertility drugs in men work in the following ways (3):
1. Stimulate hormonal production:
Infertility treating pills and injections contain synthesized hormones or hormone-like substances. They establish the balance between different hormones responsible for reproduction, and increase testosterone levels in men.
2. Improve semen production:
The primary factor that affects men fertility is the inability of the genitals to produce semen. In such cases, the medication increases the production of healthy and motile semen. In some cases, it also increases the production of seminal liquid.
[ Read: Effects Of Smoking On Fertility ]
3. Normalize blood sugar levels:
Sometimes, elevated blood sugars cause infertility in men and women alike. In such cases, the drug helps keep the blood sugar levels under control and prevents diabetes as well as infertility.
4. Stimulate blood flow:
Fertility drugs not only restore the activity of reproductive organs but also stimulate blood flow. It helps in conditions where infertility is a result of poor blood circulation in the genital area.
5. Increase libido:
Fertility medications also contain aphrodisiac properties. They help boost men’s sexual drive, therefore, improving the sexual life of the couple.
Do remember that not all drugs work the same way. It is not a one-size-fits-all treatment.
What Are The Different Fertility Drugs For Men?
Most of the conventional fertility drugs prescribed for women are also used to treat men infertility as the same hormones control reproduction in both. Some of the best over-the-counter fertility drugs are as follows:
[ Read: FertilAid For Women & Men ]
- Clomiphene, more commonly known by its brand name Clomid, is a non-steroid medication. It boosts the production of pituitary hormones, the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and the luteinizing hormone (LH). They direct the testicles to secrete testosterone and produce healthy sperm (4). FSH is also available by the brand names Gonal-F and Follistim AQ.
- Gonadotrophins (hCG and hMG) stimulate the testes to produce testosterone and sperm. They are sometimes used in combination with assisted reproductive technologies (ART) (5). Some of the popularly available brands are Pregnyl and Novarel.
- Letrozole is used to treat sperm issues. They increase the testosterone levels in the body that bring up the sperm count (6).
- Synthetic testosterone pills, injections, or gelsare used to replenish the low levels of natural testosterone in the body. Gel form is safer than the pill form (7). Currently, transdermal testosterone applications are popular.
- Bromocriptine prevents the release of prolactin hormone in the body that causes reduction in testosterone levels. This is useful for men who have sperm impairment due to hyperprolactinemia (8).
- Imipramine is used for treating retrograde ejaculation. It reverts the abnormal ejaculation of sperm from the bladder into the penis (9).
- Antibiotics and anti-fungal drugs are used to treat bacterial and fungi infections of the reproductive system.
Though these drugs are OTC, consult a doctor to understand the length of the course of the treatment.
For How Long Do Men Have To Take The Fertility Drugs?
It all depends on your condition, and the need. Not every drug has the same course of treatment.
Clomiphene is typically taken three times a week. Each treatment cycle would run for three to six months. It is safe to take the drug in low doses for two years until the hormonal levels become normal.
Gonadotrophins (hCG) involve two to three injections a week. Each treatment cycle will be for six months. If the sperm count does not improve post six months, the hMG regimen is added to the treatment. This treatment continues for one to two years until the hormonal levels turn normal.
If your fertility does not improve within six to 12 months of treatment, your doctor will recommend ART treatment along with gonadotrophins (10).
Letrozole is a one–pill-a-week treatment.
Bromocriptine involves a dosage of five to ten milligrams every day, and is used for an average of four weeks.
The above treatments work towards increasing the sperm count, semen fluidity, libido, and various aspects related to fertility. However, the chances of improvement in fertility differ in each case.
[ Read: Semen Allergy: Why Is It Caused ]
What Is The Chance Of Pregnancy When Using Fertility Drugs?
In some men, fertility pills jump-start the production of sperm count up to 15 million per milliliter of semen. Any number below that is low and here is how the chances of pregnancy lie with a couple of drugs.
Research studies on Clomiphene are few and have mixed results. While some studies have shown no effect, some have shown a little improvement in pregnancy rates. This drug is usually prescribed due to its safety, low cost, and ease to use.
Gonadotrophins are effective, and sperm production increases in nearly 90% cases. A small study finding showed that it had taken seven months for the sperm to appear and 28 months for conception (11).
But, before you choose any drug, you must consult a doctor. Hormonal medications can affect the way your body works.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Fertility Drugs In Men?
Side effects may not be the same for every drug, as each drug has its consequences. The unpleasant implications of some of the commonly prescribed medications are discussed below.
Clomiphene side effects are usually mild and include:
- Weight gain
- Vision changes
- Changes in libido
- Breast enlargement
Gonadotrophins can cause sideeffects such as:
- Soreness at the site of injection
- Changes in libido
- Breast enlargement
- Bromocriptine sideeffects include:
- Liver problems
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal body movements
Synthetic testosterone can lead to:
- Liver problems
- Mood fluctuations
- Low energy levels
Therefore, let the doctor prescribe you the right medicine. Moreover, you need to consider the costs involved as some fertility treatments run for months.
How Much Do Fertility Drugs Cost?
In the US, you may have to spend between $10 and $100 for a month’s treatment of Clomiphene. For hCG, it could cost you around $180, and for hMG, it would go up to $2000 per month (12).
However, a few health insurance policies cover these treatments.
Disclaimer: The primary focus of listing these drugs is to help you understand their general usage, interaction, and side effects. You should always check with your medical practitioner.
Natural Fertility Treatments:
Environmental, dietary, and lifestyle changes are some of the reasons that interfere with a man’s sperm production.
1. Improve nutrition and diet:
A balanced diet will raise your chances of conceiving. Make sure your food has the required amounts of minerals, vitamins, and iron. Nutritional deficiencies can impair hormonal functioning, prevent sperm production, and lead to abnormal and unhealthy sperms.
- Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and seeds as they help boost fertility.
- Drink water that is almost half your body weight (in ounces). For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces of water every day.
- Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc and essential fatty acids that are important for healthy functioning of the male reproductive system. You can take about one-fourth to one-half cup of pumpkin seeds every day.
Try to maintain weight that is ideal for your age and height.
[ Read: Foods To Increase Fertility In Men ]
2. Exercise regularly:
Regular exercise can improve the testosterone levels. Studies reveal that men who exercise regularly have better semen quality and higher testosterone levels (13).
Also, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, exercising five times in a week for about 45 minutes, along with having a healthy diet, improves fertility (14).
However, you should avoid excessive exercise as they can have an opposite effect on fertility.
If you are not sure about what exercise to do, talk to a trainer. They can help you with the right exercise regimen.
3. Include nutritional supplements:
- Vitamin C helps prevent the sperm from sticking together and improves the chances of fertility.
- Zinc supplements increase testosterone levels, sperm motility, and count. Include about 100 to 200 milligrams per day. Sources include organ meats, oysters, turkey, lamb, wheat germ, lean beef, legumes, and nuts.
- The body produces arginine upon the protein digestion. Arginine is needed to produce sperm cells. Food sources include meat, poultry, dairy, fish, nuts and chocolate.
- Other nutrients that are known to improve sperm count include – chromium (1,000mcg daily), copper (2mg daily), essential fatty acids (9 to 12gm daily), vitamin B12 (1,000mcg daily). coenzyme Q10 (400mg daily), selenium (200mcg daily).
4. Try herbal supplements:
Herbal medicines are effective in improving sexual desire, blood circulation in the sexual organs, and general reproductive health. As they might, sometimes, cause side effects, use them only on a prescription. Some herbs that treat male infertility include:
- Ginseng (Panax ginseng), also known as male tonic, helps improve general reproductive health and increase testosterone levels and sperm count.
- Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) holds the same properties as above.
- Sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.) improves overall sperm health.
- Astralagus (Astralagus membranacues) works on sperm motility.
- Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) enhances overall male reproductive health.
- Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) improves sexual desire and fertility (17).
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) boosts testosterone levels, sperm count and motility (18).
- Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) increases testosterone levels (19).
- Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) enhances the effects of testosterone (20).
Treatment methods ensure that infertility is either cured or the condition is mitigated. But, there are ways of preventing infertility too.
Can Male Infertility Be Prevented?
Most types of male infertility cannot be preventable. However, only the lifestyle-related fertility issues can be prevented:
- Abstain from nicotine, alcohol, and illicit drugs: they affect sperm motility and morphology
- Avoid being overweight: there will be alterations in the sperm cell morphology
- Avoid things that raise testicular temperature such as wearing heavy/tight clothing, taking long and hot baths, using sauna, cycling, etc.
- Do not over stress; you could try meditating if you get stressed easily
- Avoid exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxic agents
- Avoid mobile and laptop radiations as they result in less sperm motility
- Avoid sexually transmitted diseases
- Avoid using plastic containers for storing food, wraps, utensils, and bottles as the chemicals in the plastic cause hormonal imbalances
- Use only non-bleached paper, coffee filters, toilet tissues, and napkins as they are safe
- Avoid chlorinated tap water
- Prefer organic foods to avoid pesticides and herbicides
- Avoid synthetic cosmetics and deodorants as they contribute to hormonal disruption
- Avoid animal products with high fat content
- Avoid fried, barbecued, and charcoal-broiled forms of cooking
[ Read: Caffeine: Does It Affect Your Fertility? ]
The first thing you should do is to stop worrying about your infertility. Only a worry-free mind can think about the future course of action. Remember, your ability to become a father does not define you. Your behavior and actions do! Think good and be happy. It will help you both physically and mentally.
Have an experience to share? Let us know in the comment section.
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