Male infertility is the inability of a man to cause pregnancy.

There are several structural, genetic, hormonal, physical and psychological factors which affect fertility in men.

It could be due to sperm abnormalities like low sperm count or low motility of the sperm or even improper physical structure of the sperm.

It could also occur due to structural abnormalities like blocks in the tubular system of the reproductive organs.

Imbalances in the reproductive hormones like Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone, etc. also contribute to the disorder.

Infertility can also be due to genetic disorders, as in the case of Cystic fibrosis, Klinefelter Syndrome, etc. Lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking are also contributors. [1]

What is Maca?

Maca, scientifically, Lepidium meyenii, is a herb belonging to the Brassicaceae family. Native to the high Andes of Peru, the fleshy root or the hypocotyl is harvested.

Quite similar looking to radishes, maca reproduces through seeds and is self-pollinated. For years, this plant has been cultivated for the ability to improve fertility and sexual health.

It is available in the market in various forms, including tablets. [2]

4 Proven Benefits of Maca For Male Health

Maca is proven to balance hormones in order to improve fertility in men.

1. Maca Consumption Improves Sperm Quality

One of the many causes of male infertility is sperm abnormality. Sperm abnormalities include low sperm count, poor motility or even improper shape.

There are several reasons as to why sperm abnormalities occur.

Age is one of these factors, as it tends to reduce the motility of the sperm and reduces the quality.

Sexually transmitted diseases cause damage to the reproductive system, leading to the improper formation of the sperm cells.

Another very important factor includes indulgences such as smoking and substance abuse.

All these factors affect the production of sperm and impair proper development and thus leads to infertility in men. [3]

A study was conducted to study the benefits of consumption of Maca with respect to male fertility.

The study made observations on the sperm count and motility to find out if consumption of Maca changed any of these parameters.

Analysis of the results of the study revealed that Maca could increase the seminal volume and hence increased the sperm count.

Also, an improvement was seen in the motility of the sperm cells.

Maca was also seen to have a beneficial effect on spermatogenesis by acting on the Sertoli Cells of the male reproductive system.

Improvement in the sperm count and motility show that Maca contributes to male reproductive health. [4]

What does this Mean? Consumption of Maca prevents Male Infertility by improving sperm quality and benefiting male reproductive system.

2. Maca Boosts Testosterone Levels

Testosterone the most important male hormone. It is produced in the testes of the male reproductive system in specialized cells known as the Leydig cells.

There are several hormones which contribute to the formation of testosterone such as, Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Gonadotrophic Hormone.

It is involved in muscle development, bone mass formation, RBC production and spermatogenesis.

The levels of testosterone tend to reduce in men with age and this affects several properties of the male reproductive system as well as male health. [5]

A study tried to find out the ability of Maca to prevent the age-related decline in testosterone levels in males.

The study analysed the concentration of testosterone in the blood and production of the hormone in the Leydig Cells of the testes.

The results showed that the continuous consumption of maca increased the serum testosterone levels in older males.

Another important parameter which was studied was the effect of Maca on the production of this hormone in the Leydig Cells.

It was seen that Maca was able to increase the synthesis of testosterone in older males with the help of certain other hormones such as Luteinizing hormone. [6]

What does this Mean? Regular consumption of Maca helps combat the age-related decline of testosterone levels in males.

3. Maca Benefits in Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, is a disorder wherein, the patient has trouble in getting or maintaining an erection during sexual intercourse.

Erectile dysfunction occurs as a result of several emotional, physical or physiological causes.

It can occur due to nerve, arterial, muscular or fibrous damage.

High blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease are among some of the disorders which can lead up to Erectile Dysfunction.

Lifestyle choices also contribute to Erectile Dysfunction such as, excessive consumption of alcohol, drug abuse, smoking, lack of exercise, etc.

Emotional distress, the form of anxiety, depression, stress, and low self-esteem can be a cause of Erectile Dysfunction.

Among its many other consequences, Erectile Dysfunction can lead to male infertility. [7]

A clinical trial was conducted in 2008 to access the involvement of Maca in alleviating erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction level is given as an International Index of Erectile Function, (IIEF-5) Score.

Another parameter which was studies was the overall effect of maca on the physiological, emotional, physical, cognitive and social performance, which was given by the Satisfaction Profile (SAT-P).

Maca was found to be able to increase the International Index of Erectile Function Score, thus indicating improvement in erectile function.

Also, it was found that consumption of Maca increased the Satisfaction Profile (SAT-P), which proved that Maca is capable of promoting emotional and physical well-being in patients with Erectile Dysfunction. [8]

What does this Mean? Consumption of Maca alleviates Erectile Dysfunction and promotes overall male reproductive health.

4. Maca Beans Boost Antioxidants Defenses

Oxidative stress occurs due to the formation of free radicals such as superoxide. It has been proved that oxidative stress is prevalent in patients who suffer from infertility.

The study of seminal plasma levels of infertile males showed low levels of natural antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase.

Also, the seminal plasma contained elevated levels of mono aldehydes and xanthine oxidase, which promoted oxidative stress.

Thus, it was established that male infertility is associated with oxidative stress. [9]

A 2002 study, tried to evaluate the antioxidant property of Maca and thus, its ability to protect the cells of the body from harmful free radicals.

Maca was found to have several phytochemicals which had the ability to scavenge harmful free radicals such as peroxynitrite.

This protects the DNA from damage due to oxidative stress.

Examination of the phytochemical content of Maca revealed that it contains flavonoids, which function as antioxidants and scavenge harmful free radicals. [10]

What does this Mean? Consumption of Maca alleviates Oxidative Stress associated with infertility.

5. Maca Protects from Toxins induced Infertility

Exposure to toxins for a long period of time causes infertility. This occurs due to damage to the function of the testes or hormonal imbalance.

Heavy metal exposure like lead, chromium etc harm the sperm count and thus affect fertility. [11]

A study conducted in 2005 analysed the effect of consumption of Maca beans in reverting the damage induced in the male reproductive system due to exposure to lead acetate.

Exposure to lead is causes impairment in the process of spermatogenesis, leading to problems in the sperm count.

It was seen that Maca was able to protect the developing sperm from the harmful effects of lead acetate and promoted normal mitotic division and spermiation.

Also, maca increased the daily production of sperm in the testes and quickened the onset of spermatogenesis.

It was found capable of preventing the death of the developing sperm cell.

Moreover, the antioxidant property of Maca prevented the loss of sperm due to oxidative stress in the epididymis, thus preventing toxicity due to exposure to lead. [12]

What does this Mean? Consumption of Maca prevents infertility in men due to exposure to toxic chemicals.

Dosage of Maca for Male Health

The root of the Maca plant is generally consumed. The harvested maca is usually dried and consumed as it is. In some regions, it is also consumed after cooking.

The roots are consumed as a part of soups, jams, with vegetables or as a part of bakery items and drinks such as milk.

Consumption of around 3 grams of Maca extract on a daily basis has been proved to be safe and showed no side effects. [13]

Precautions

Maca is generally considered to be safe and not associated with any form of toxicity.

Although, patients suffering from thyroid disorders are advised to avoid consuming Maca due to the risk of development of Goiter.[14]

Conclusion

Infertility among young and older men is increasing steadily due to various genetic, environmental, lifestyle, physical and emotional factors.

Maca can be of help in this disorder. Incorporation of Maca into a daily diet can improve the quality of life in men.

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