Male fertility. I believe is one of the most neglected and least discussed topics in the Indian health sphere, alongside Malnutrition and Mental Health of course! More often than not when a couple starts planning for a baby, it is the mother who is prescribed vitamins and a lifestyle routine (for a good quality egg!). But Doctors and Family members alike are least concerned about the quality of the sperms that will be impregnating that egg. And I understand that we live a patriarchal society where men are discouraged from discussing their “male problems” and seeking help because of the social stigma and shame, but with incidences of Male infertility rising by ~25% in last 5 years it is time we start giving Men’s Fertility an equal attention!
What is Male Fertility?
Male fertility is a man’s capability of getting his female partner pregnant.
What are some indicator’s of Male Fertility?
- Healthy Libido
- Sperm Count (more than 15 million per milliliter)
- Sperm motility
What are certain things that are known to adversely affect Fertility in Men
- Alcohol Abuse
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Medications like certain blood pressure medications (spironolactone), Beta blockers, certain anti-psychotic drugs as well as certain antibiotics
- Radiation exposure
- Exposure to high levels of pesticides and toxins
- Illicit Drug Abuse
Now in this article we are going to discuss plants that could potentially diminish fertility in males.
- Mint: Peppermint is shown to decrease total testosterone (chief male reproductive hormone) and increase Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Leutinizing Hormone/LH (female reproductive hormones) in male rats . And spearmint, though statistically insignificantly, shown to reduce serum testosterone, sperm count and sperm motility in male rats  and decrease free testosterone, increase LH and FSH in human females . Though more research is needed, and jury is still out on it, but seems like high dosage of mint may cause temporary and reversible infertility in males! But let that not scare you as dosages used in these studies are relatively high than what you might get from chewing a strip of mint flavored gum…or two.
- Neem: Neem is considered as being elixir of life in Ayurveda, but too much of anything is never good, or so as the say. Neem has been known to have anti-fertility effect in males. This effect is dose dependent and is seen only at extremely high doses and is also reversible.
- Papaya Seeds: For centuries people in Indian subcontinent have known and believed that raw papaya is unsuitable for consumption by expectant mothers, but only a few has the knowledge that it’s seeds too can be used as a natural contraceptive for males. Studies have shown anti-fertility effects of papaya seeds in male rats and Langur monkeys  . Liquid Extract of papaya seeds is known to induce reversible sterility.
- Bitter Gourd: Seeds of ‘Karela’ are known to be sterility inducers according to Ayurveda. Numerous animal studies show spermicidal activity of bitter melon seed extract  . This one study tested it’s effect on human sperm ‘ in vitro’ and found that at higher concentration, butter gourd extract is extremely deadly for sperms .
- Garlic: crude Garlic extract has shown to reduce testosterone secretion and affect production of new sperms in rats .
- Bilva Leaf (Bel Leaf): Bel leaves are shown to reduce testosterone levels and also the density and mobility of the sperms in rats  .
- Turmeric: Turmeric at very high doses is shown to suppress sperm production in rats  
- Vajradanti: Barleria Prionitis simply known as Vajradanti is also shown to reduce fertility in male rats  
- Clove: Though widely believed to be an aphrodisiac, taken in high doses, clove buds can deplete sperm production .
Now those were nine herbs that are quite well known and are widely used across Indian subcontinent for their medicinal and culinary properties. They are also quiet harmful for men’s fertility at high doses. But let that not scare you as we hardly ever consume those herbs in quantities high enough to cause toxicity (does anyone here consume 4-5 teaspoons of turmeric every day??)! Point of this information is not to scare you off, but to inform you that overdose of certain friendly herbs can actually hamper your conception efforts.
Too much of anything is never too good, right 😉