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Sperm counts are dropping around the world. A French study found, for example, that sperm concentrations dropped continuously over a 17 years period. In this study of 26,000 French men, the average 35 year old man had a 32% lower sperm count in 2005 compared to 1989.
While the reason for decreased fertility around the world is not understood, there are natural strategies that have been proven to increase sperm count, motility and morphology.
In a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, researchers from Iran's Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences have determined that an oil from a traditional middle eastern remedy significantly boosts semen quality, volume and motility.
The researchers tested 34 men who were considered infertile – as they had sperm counts below 20 million per milliliter, or had less than 30% morphology or less than 25%-50% sperm motility. This condition is also called oligoasthenoteratospermia.
Sperm motility relates to how well the sperm move towards the ovum or egg to be fertilized. Low motility means the sperm are not moving fast enough to survive the journey to fertilize the egg and have the ability to penetrate the layers surrounding the egg.
Sperm morphology relates to the sperm's shape. A normal sperm will be rounded at the head with a healthy single tail. Having an abnormally-shaped head or tail – or a double tail – equates to low morphology.
Having a sperm count below 20 million sperm per milliliter is called oligozoospermia. Above this level is considered normal.
The researchers also tested pH of the semen because pH often determines the level of motility of the sperm – giving the sperm a better shot at penetrating the egg.
The researchers supplemented each of the 34 infertile men with either 2.5 milliliters of Nigella sativa L. seed oil or a placebo – liquid paraffin – each day.
After two months, the researchers again tested the motility, morphology and sperm counts for each of the men. They found that the group supplementing with the Nigella sativa L. seed oil had significantly higher sperm counts, better sperm motility and sperm morphology, as well as improved pH levels compared to the placebo group and compared to the beginning of the study.
The researchers concluded:
"It is concluded that daily intake of 5 milliliters N. sativa oil for two months improves abnormal semen quality in infertile men without any adverse effects."
Kolahdooz M, Nasri S, Modarres SZ, Kianbakht S, Huseini HF. Effects of Nigella sativa L. seed oil on abnormal semen quality in infertile men: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2014 Mar 25. pii: S0944-7113(14)00108-1. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.02.006.