By Consultant Endocrinologist Dr Mary Ryan.
It may surprise you to know that men also have a biological clock when it comes to fertility. So many couples who visit my fertility clinic are focused on the health and age of the woman in the relationship, mistakenly thinking that a man can have children at any age. I investigate both partners reproductive ability and usually the male sperm count first as this test is quicker and less invasive.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as testes and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair.
From the age of 25–30, a man’s testosterone levels naturally start to decline. Studies have shown that male sperm begins to defragment from the age of 45. So I recommend that men also look at having children earlier in life to ensure the best chance of healthy sperm production. To increase testosterone levels naturally, exercise, sleep, diet and specific vitamins are important.
All forms of exercise may increase your testosterone levels. Weightlifting and high-intensity interval training are the most effective. High levels of stress are bad for your long- term health and can reduce your testosterone levels, regular exercise can help to reduce stress too.
Try to eat balanced amounts of carbs, fat, and protein. Foods that support testosterone production are oysters, pomegranate and plant milks fortified with vitamin D. The latter contributes to the maintenance of normal testosterone levels in the blood1.
Other micronutrients may also have benefits, such as B vitamins, in one study, zinc and vitamin B supplements increased sperm quality by 74%2. Zinc contributes to the maintenance of normal testosterone levels in the blood and normal reproduction. Other factor to consider include high exposure to oestrogen-like chemicals, which may affect your levels, so try to minimse daily exposure to BPA (bisphenol A, an industrial chemical found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins), parabens and other chemicals found in some types of plastic. Also, excess alcohol or certain medications can also decrease testosterone levels.
If a male has a low level of testosterone, the symptoms can include erectile dysfunction, and reduced bone mass and sex drive. In the long run, low testosterone can have major health implications such as higher risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and weight gain.
A great supplement for men is Cleanmarine For Men, which provides a comprehensive omega 3, multivitamin formulation with zinc, vitamin D, B vitamins and selenium for those who want to boost energy levels and support reproductive health.