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Nonpharmacological Interventions for the Management of Testosterone and Sperm Parameters: A Scoping Review

      Abstract

      Purpose

      Testosterone replacement and associated pharmacologic agents are effective strategies to treat male hypogonadism; however, nutraceutical agents and lifestyle modification approaches have gained medical interest. The purpose of this scoping review is to highlight the evidence (or lack thereof) of nutraceuticals and lifestyle modification approaches in the management of testosterone levels and sperm parameters.

      Methods

      A scoping review of nonpharmacologic interventions (supplements, herbal medicines, diets, sleep, and exercise) with the potential to improve male health was undertaken to elucidate changes in testosterone levels and sperm parameters in men with hypogonadism or infertility compared with healthy patients.

      Findings

      A multitude of nutraceuticals and functional nutrients are purported to stimulate testosterone production; however, only a select few have had promising results, such as zinc, vitamin D (in case of hypovitaminosis D), l-arginine, mucuna, and ashwagandha, based on well-controlled randomized clinical trials of men with low testosterone levels and related problems. Except for l-arginine, these natural agents, as well as tribulus and ω3 fatty acids, can improve some degree of sperm parameters in infertile men. Before implementing these nutraceutical agents, adequate sleep, exercise, and weight loss in patients with obesity are imperative. The effects of nonpharmacologic interventions on testosterone levels are modest and hence do not directly translate into clinical benefits. Correspondingly, androgen receptor content, but not endogenous androgens, has been regarded as the principal factor in muscle hypertrophy.

      Implications

      A limited number of supplements and herbal medicines can be considered as adjunctive approaches in the management of testosterone levels and sperm parameters, primarily in men with low testosterone levels and infertility, whereas most nonpharmacologic supplements appear to lack evidence. Although proper physical exercise, sleep, and diet are indisputable approaches because of the general benefits to health, the use of nutraceuticals, if considered, must be personalized by physicians and/or registered dietitians.

      Key words

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