The pharmaceutical industry is in the midst of a push to combat the female hormone imbalance that leads to infertility.
And a recent study suggests that some male fertility supplements may be worth the investment.
“Female fertility supplements were shown to increase fertility in men by about 3% in a study that included women with a history of infertility and to decrease it in men with a family history of fertility problems,” Dr. David DeMarco, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that a supplement containing a blend of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone was effective in increasing sperm counts and sperm quality in both men and women with infertility.
“While this study shows that testosterone and diols can have fertility-enhancing effects in men, the benefits of female fertility supplement use may extend to men with fertility problems as well,” Dr DeMarco said.
“We’re currently conducting a clinical trial to determine whether these female fertility-boosting supplements can be useful for men with male infertility.
This trial will look at whether the combination of diol and testosterone is sufficient to reduce sperm counts in men and increase sperm quality.”
The findings are not as encouraging for the male contraceptive pill, which could potentially have a significant impact on male fertility as well.
A 2016 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry found that while a female contraceptive pill is more effective than a male contraceptive, it’s still a relatively minor benefit.
“Male contraceptives are generally more effective at preventing pregnancy in women, and so they do provide some protection against the pregnancy-inducing effects of the female hormones,” said Dr. Ravi Chatterjee, a male fertility specialist at the University of Toronto.
“However, this may not be true for men because their hormonal imbalance is still relatively low.
There may be an increase in the risk of pregnancy.”
In addition to testosterone and sperm count boosting, male fertility treatments can also increase the likelihood of a man being able to conceive in the first place.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men can have up to 30% less sperm than women.
“If a man can have a sperm count of 1,000 sperm/ml, he can conceivably conceive within 30 days of having a testicular biopsy,” said J. Scott Gage, a medical geneticist and a professor of genetics at the College of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University.
“That’s a very low number of sperm for a man to get in a year, and it’s possible to have an unplanned pregnancy.”
The best way to combat male fertility problems, however, is to avoid trying to get pregnant.
“A healthy male fertility is one that is not impacted by the effects of testosterone,” said Gage.
“You can’t just take a pill and expect to conceive.”