Thinking of wanting a baby? It is widely known that the fertility rate in Singapore has always been low and declining. Many have been actively seeking fertility treatment (e.g. IVF treatment) and finding the best fertility doctors around in Singapore. While it is commonly thought that females played the key roles in child-bearing, the health state of men are as important. This is why men are also encouraged to go for sperm test, including sperm count test in Singapore, when couples face infertility issues. This article seeks to educate readers on what we can do to strengthen and maintain our reproductive health. At the same time, we will also address the other usual problems faced by men. 

When it comes to assessing male fertility, doctors will normally conduct semen analysis. Sperm count (quantity), morphology (shape) and motility (ability to swim and move) are all key factors to consider when evaluating the results of the analysis. As we slowly show the signs of aging, the quality of our sperms also start to decrease. It is hard to reverse aging, but we definitely can take steps to protect our reproductive health. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, like exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, avoiding junk food, learning how to relax etc, is important to ensure the proper functioning of the male factory. We can further enhance the positive effects by eating the right energy food to obtain the necessary nutrition for male fertility. Below is a list of nutrients that are particularly helpful for men’s health: 

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1. Zinc

As the second most abundant element in our human body, zinc plays a pivotal role in building quality sperms. Other than that, this microelement also has strong antioxidant properties, helps to regulate the male hormones and maintains lining of our reproductive organs. All these point to the importance of zinc for men’s reproductive health. The bad news is that zinc cannot be stored in our bodies, so it is required for us to have regular dietary intakes of this essential nutrient. 

Our male semen contains a high concentration of zinc, which play vital roles in the sperm functions. In other words, zinc can affect the quality of sperm and the chances of conception. A deficiency in dietary zinc can impair sexual function and reproduction. Other than that, zinc is also important for prostate health as well. In fact, it is commonly incorporated in prostate supplements. The World Health Organization estimated that one-third of the world population suffers from shortage of dietary zinc. Thus, we should look into foods that can help supplement zinc for our bodies. 

Zinc-rich foods include fish, pork liver, beef, shrimp and shellfish and soy products.  Some claimed that abalones are very nutritious foods that can help to replenish men’s vitality. However among these foods, the one with the highest zinc content is none other than oysters! A normal man requires just about two or three oysters a day to get the zinc he needs throughout the day.

Oysters are well-researched to be an excellent source of protein, zinc, selenium, iron, calcium and vitamins like vitamin A and B12. Traditionally regarded as an aphrodisiac, ancient Greek men have been known to consume oysters for sustenance as a key diet of the Mediterranean. Today, researchers have shown that components in oyster meat such as zinc and amino acids have correlation to sperm quality and increased production of certain hormones, including sex hormones. Today, components in oyster meat such as zinc and amino acids have also shown to be essential in supporting men’s reproductive health. Thus, oysters prove to be a valuable aid to the men who are planning to start a family. 

As it may be a bit too much to consume 2 to 3 oysters on a daily basis and some may fear contracting hepatitis or bacterial infection from consuming raw oysters, you can consider taking supplements with oyster extract to acquire the necessary nutrients for men’s health.

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2. L-Arginine

In addition to zinc, arginine is also a widely recognized nutrient that can aid men. Arginine is an immediate precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) which promotes blood circulation to the extremities and improves men’s performance.  Due to the ability to relax blood vessels and improve blood circulation, arginine is also known for the benefits for our hearts. Arginine-rich foods include fish, tofu skin, peanuts, walnuts, soybeans, sesame seeds, seaweed, peas, octopus and sea cucumber.

3. Lycopene

Another nutrient that can help support men’s health is lycopene. Lycopene is a strong natural antioxidant found in plants, which can effectively destroy free radicals. Some studies have shown that taking lycopene can help improve sperm motility and morphology in men, and significantly increase sperm concentration. Lycopene is not only found in tomatoes, but also in fruits such as watermelon, pumpkin and plum. British scientists even infer that men who drink a bowl of tomato soup a day, will greatly enhance their reproductive abilities.

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4. Chinese herbs

In Singapore, many couples resort to visiting tcm clinics to solve fertility-related and men’s problems. TCM treatments involve acupuncture, cupping, gua sha and herbal remedies. TCM herbs can help to balance the levels of yin and yang of our bodies and solve specific problems. When we approach this sensitive topic of men’s fertility health, names like tongkat ali and maca pop out. However, these do not belong to TCM and do not possess the tcm healing properties which some proclaimed them to have. The overuse of sex pills is also harmful to the body in the long run. So, one should be careful on the choice of herbs or supplements to take to aid the men’s vitality. So what are some ideal TCM herbs to use?

One of the most popular herb choices is cordyceps (冬虫夏草 / 虫草). Cordyceps benefits range from the lung meridian to the kidney meridian. In TCM, the kidney meridian is responsible for our overall state of health, in particular our reproductive health and body immunity. If you often feel lethargic due to work or stress, this herb is a top choice to deal with your lethargy. Tonifying the kidney meridian, cordyceps can boost up men’s stamina and strength. 

Another herb that is also strong in promoting men’s energy is Du Zhong (杜仲) . In TCM, this herb gives rise to the “kidney fire”, allowing men to be more active. Other than that, Du Zhong is also used by tcm physicians to treat hypertension (高血压) and backache. Horny Goat Weed (淫羊藿) is another similar herb that boosts men’s vitality and sexual functions. These herbs are helpful for men who are suffering from male-related conditions. 

While these herbs are generally beneficial, one must be careful in making the right choices. A wrong combination of herbs (as of a lot of health supplements in the market) might end up causing one to become heaty and develop symptoms like sore throat and cough. You can consider herbs that can replenish the kidney yin and essence. One good example is wolfberry (枸杞子). Wolfberries are known to tonify the kidney meridians without causing heatiness to the body. Together with semen cuscutae Tu Si Zi (菟丝子), they can improve the quality of the sperms and semen in the male body. 

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