The harsh reality is we are not the men our ancestors were. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at these numbers...
Sperm counts have decreased by more than half in just the last 30 years, while the rate at which testosterone (T) levels decline has tripled.
The result is that modern men are 50% less fertile than their parents, and testosterone levels are more than 20% lower compared to men of the same age 30 years ago.
These alarming statistics desperately warrant timely measures. While most experts agree that putting everyone on testosterone therapy may do more harm than good, it’s important to highlight that much safer options are available.
That includes lifestyle changes and other natural solutions that help optimize your hormones and restore fertility.
One such remedy is the popular Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha. It’s been used for centuries as a herbal supplement for reducing stress, improving strength, and boosting masculinity.
In this article, you can learn more about men's most common health concerns, such as low testosterone, and discover the science behind the surprising Ashwagandha benefits you may experience as a man.
Men’s health concerns
Testosterone is the key to male fertility, healthy sex life, and masculinity. Therefore, it is only natural that many men's concerns revolve around testosterone levels.
Low testosterone levels often underlie a whole range of challenges, including low sex drive, infertility, body and facial hair loss, and erectile dysfunction.
As one of the most dreaded male health issues, erectile dysfunction is one of the most common reasons men get their testosterone levels checked. Testosterone increases sex drive while at the same time activating several enzymes that regulate erectile function (1).
Scientists have established that without testosterone, the production of fertile sperm is also impossible (2).
Moreover, excessively low testosterone levels can be even more dangerous than having too much (e.g., due to steroid abuse) in terms of overall health and longevity.
Research shows that low testosterone levels increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases (3).
Causes of Hormonal Issues and Male Infertility
There are several factors that may lower testosterone levels or even completely shut down testosterone production. The causes may include:
- acute and chronic inflammation
- genetic diseases
- physical trauma
- medical therapies and interventions
- medications and steroids
- alcohol abuse
However, one of the most commonly overlooked reasons for low testosterone levels is obesity. Too much extra body fat can wreak havoc on your hormones (4).
For example, obesity can disrupt the body's balance between testosterone and estrogen (E). Fat starts transforming testosterone to estrogen thanks to an enzyme in adipose tissue called aromatase.
Typically testosterone levels drop by a percentage every 1-5 years. But according to scientists, being obese also speeds up the age-related decline of your T levels.
A study in 1 667 men reported that increasing your body mass index (BMI) by just a point leads to a 2% T decrease (5). This is comparable to the effects of 10 years of aging-related decline.
Low testosterone is associated with the accumulation of fats around the abdomen, which further contributes to an increased risk of diseases (heart disease and diabetes) and sexual dysfunction (6).
Low testosterone does not mean you are immune to hair loss and balding. In fact, despite the rapid conversion of testosterone into estrogen, peripheral tissue still transforms the remaining free testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) - the leading cause of hair loss.
Ways to Improve Male Fertility and Testosterone Levels
In some cases, infertility is due to medical disorders such as hypogonadism. If you suspect any underlying conditions, always consult a medical doctor immediately. A licensed physician will provide you with the best care and treatment for your situation.
Yet, many men struggle to have children even though there is no apparent cause for their infertility. In such cases, lifestyle changes and natural remedies may help optimize your hormonal levels, boost testosterone production, and possibly improve fertility.
Changing your lifestyle is essential if you want to improve your fertility and testosterone levels. The aspects you should address first include maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing stress levels.
According to a meta-analysis of 40 studies, weight-loss interventions in obese men lead to significant improvements in sperm concentrations, motility, morphology, and DNA integrity (7).
- As a start, it’s recommended to participate in any type of physical activity as long as you enjoy it and you can be consistent.
- Increase your intake of low-calorie whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which can help increase your satiety levels and lead to a lower overall calorie intake.
- Avoid foods that contain trans-fatty acids (TFA). Those are artificially hydrogenated plant oils often used in processed foods, fried foods, and margarine.
Scientists warn that eating foods rich in TFA can reduce sperm concentration, motility, and total sperm count (8).
- Lowering your stress levels may also help improve your fertility. Reducing stress will help reduce the amount of cortisol in your body.
This stress hormone also blocks testosterone production, reducing semen volume, sperm cell concentration, and sperm motility (9).
Another way to help lower your cortisol levels is through natural remedies such as Ashwagandha.
Herbs and herbal remedies have been used to improve fertility in both men and women for millennia.
Modern scientific methods have put ancient medicinal practices to the test, and the research shows that more than a few herbs can help improve male fertility (10).
There is evidence for a wide range of herbal supplements that can improve sperm count, sperm motility, semen volume, and sperm concentration. They include:
Some herbal extracts, such as Withania somnifera, aka Ashwagandha, have shown remarkable results in increasing male testosterone levels.
More than 30 studies involving 13 herbal extracts report that Ashwagandha root extract was the most potent natural treatment in increasing testosterone concentrations (11).
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a small evergreen shrub with yellow flowers native to the regions of India, the Middle East, and some parts of Africa. It has been used for more than 3 000 years in the traditional Indian medicine called Ayurveda (12).
The name Ashwagandha comes from Sanskrit and means “horse smell,” which refers to the specific smell of the herb’s roots and their potential to increase strength.
The Latin name is Withania somnifera, but the herb is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry.
The herb is classified as an adaptogen, meaning it can increase your resistance and improve your body's management of stress.
According to the evidence, the main bioactive molecules that carry the medicinal properties of the shrub are steroidal lactones called withanolides (13).
Its bioactive molecules may also help reduce anxiety and cortisol levels, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, increase muscle strength, fight inflammation, boost brain function, and elevate testosterone production.
What are the Ashwagandha Benefits for Men
Ashwagandha powder has numerous benefits for men, the most prominent being its effect on testosterone and fertility.
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available studies, Withania somnifera can increase testosterone levels by 17% on average in infertile males (15).
What is more, Ashwagandha root extract led to a 59% increase in semen volume, a 57% increase in sperm motility, and a whopping 167% increase in sperm concentration.
This was sufficient to revert male infertility and result in pregnancy in 14% of the couples.
Furthermore, ashwagandha supplementation can reduce your cortisol levels by 30% (16). Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones in your body.
Lowering cortisol levels may also benefit your testosterone production and fertility. Preliminary research also indicates that the cortisol-lowering effects of Withania somnifera can help improve your sleep quality (17).
Those who are physically active may also benefit from the effects of Ashwagandha on muscle strength and maintaining muscle mass.
According to several studies, supplementing with the root extract of Withania somnifera for 8 weeks is sufficient to increase muscle strength, power output, and physical performance in healthy men (18, 19).
Consult a doctor before supplementing Ashwagandha powder if you have diabetes or any problems affecting your blood sugar levels. Withania somnifera can lead to low blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
The best way to take Ashwagandha is to consume the root, which is usually a tea, powder, or dietary supplement.
To ensure that you’re getting a sufficient amount of Withania somnifera, it’s crucial to choose a herbal supplement containing a standardized Ashwagandha powder extract so that you know exactly how much you are taking.
How to Choose the Best Ashwagandha Supplement?
The best Ashwagandha supplements are produced in the U.S., containing standardized root extracts of Withania somnifera, and regularly undergo third-party testing by independent agencies.
One supplement that covers all of the requirements above and even takes it a step further is Good Vibes by NutriRise.
Each serving can deliver up to 1950 mg of Ashwagandha extract per day, an unmatched potency compared to most other supplements.
Nutririse ashwagandha capsules also stand out from the rest by providing the most absorbable Withania somnifera product on the market, thanks to the addition of 15 mg of black pepper extract per serving. Black pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine, which boosts the bioavailability of active ingredients.
First, piperine slows down the gastrointestinal transit time of the supplement, which prolongs the time that different ingredients are exposed to uptake and absorption (20).
Furthermore, the alkaloid can inhibit a process called glucuronidation that occurs in the liver and neutralizes many of the bioactive molecules we consume with food (21).
NutriRise offers a 100% organic extract of Ashwaganda root (Withania somnifera) from natural and sustainable sources.
The rigorous 3rd party testing also guarantees that NutriRise ashwagandha supplements are free of harmful binders, fillers, allergens, GMOs, pesticides, dairy, gluten, animal products, artificial colors, flavors, hormones, heavy metals, and preservatives.
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement.