The process of spermatogenesis revealed

1. Male reproductive cells are produced in testicles.

2. The process of sperm cell production is known as spermatogenesis (also referred to as spermiogenesis).

3. Spermatogenesis lasts for 74 days, which means that it takes as long as 3 months for a new portion of spermatozoa to be produced. Over this period, it is worth avoiding such substances as coffee, alcohol and tobacco, as well as considering proper supplementation.

Such simple changes will help to “cultivate” strong spermatozoa.

4. The last stage takes place in the temperature of only 33°C. Such a temperature can be maintained by the scrotal sac (therefore, care should be taken not to overheat it). Next, spermatozoa move to the epididymis.

5. The process of filling the seminal vesicles in the epididymides takes approximately 48 hours (frequent ejaculation of semen reduces the number of spermatozoa stored in the vesicles, until they are completely empty).

6. The spermatozoa accumulated in the epididymis retain their fertilisation capacity for 42 days.

7. The transportation of spermatozoa from the testicle to the epididymis lasts for about 2 days (a too slow movement of the semen is likely to have an effect on its “premature ageing”, thereby increasing the risk of infertility).

8. A man produces 100 million spermatozoa per day, or 1,000 spermatozoa per second.

9. One portion of semen contains approx. 500 million spermatozoa, which set out on their journey to give a new life according to the ‘first come, first served’ principle.

Excess body weight versus male fertility

Infertility affects men to almost the same extent as women.

The impact of excess body mass on the endocrine factors that negatively correlate with fertility has been well documented. Overweight in men is directly related to increased oestrogen production in the adipose (fatty) tissue and reduced production of androgens (the so-called male hormones), including testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Excessive levels of oestrogen in men may disturb the process of spermatogenesis, i.e. the formation of new spermatozoa. Due to the fact that the less testosterone there is, the more fat is accumulated, especially in the abdominal area, overweight and obesity also have a negative effect on sexual functions and may be the underlying cause of erectile dysfunctions.

Some research suggests a negative impact of increased BMI on semen parameters.

Excessive amounts of abdominal fat lead to increased testicular temperature whereas high temperatures in the scrotum translate into poor semen quality. Obesity may reduce the number of spermatozoa with proper structure and progressive motion.

The meta-analysis of twenty one examinations (Sermondade et al.), encompassing a total of more than thirteen thousand male subjects, demonstrated that overweight and obesity were correlated with a more frequent incidence of oligozoospermia (a lower than normal number of spermatozoa – total or per 1 ml of ejaculate) or azoospermia (a lack of spermatozoa in a semen sample).

Due to such a negative impact of overweight on male fertility, men who plan to become fathers are recommended to go on a diet combined with physical activity and dietary supplementation to provide the body with proper nutrients.

The role of carnitine in the treatment of male infertility

What is L-carnitine?

L-carnitine is a natural compound found in the human body. It was isolated from beef in 1905 for the first time. The levorotatory isomer (L) is the only biologically active form of carnitine and an essential element of each cell to obtain energy from the oxidation of fatty acids in mitochondria.

Sources of L-carnitine.

Meat and dairy products are a rich dietary source of L-carnitine and N-acetyl L-carnitine. However, when you plan to have a baby, it is important to consider additional supplementation, because the amount of these substances in your diet may not be sufficient. The research by Prof. Loezi from Rome indicated that men on a carnitine-rich diet, after receiving additional supplementation, were observed to exhibit a significant increase in the total number of motile spermatozoa (from 12 to 31 million) as well as an increase in the number of spermatozoa with progressive motion (from 7.5 to 25 million).

The role of L-carnitine and N-acetyl L-carnitine in male infertility:

  • increases the antioxidative potential of the semen, i.e. protects the sperm cell against damage as a result of contact with free radicals;
  • significantly increases the number of motile spermatozoa;
  • increases the number of spermatozoa in men with ultrasound features of urogenital system inflammation (a study by Vicari and Calogero, entitled “Effects of treatment with carnitines in infertile patients with prostato-vesiculoepididymitis”, Hum Reprod, 2001);
  • increases sperm motility;
  • improves the morphological structure of spermatozoa;
  • increases the chances of natural pregnancy (in the study conducted by Balercia et al., the highest number of pregnancies was observed in a group taking L-carnitine and N-acetyl L-carnitine in combination (33% of men) or with the IVF procedure;
  • has a positive effect on the fertility of patients with varicocele and even on the reduction of oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (Aitken et al. 2010).