It is no secret that the fertility rate in Malaysia is plummeting.\u00a0 The latest vital statistics 2019 released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia reveals that there were only 1.8 babies born per woman last year as opposed to 1.9 babies born per woman in 2017. Live births have dropped from 508,685 babies in 2017 to 501,945 last year \u2500 a decreasing number that is worrying enough to prompt the government to offer incentives for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) as a means of producing more babies for the nation.\r\n\r\nFinance Minister Lim Guan Eng had said, during the Budget 2020 announcement, that couples could now withdraw from their Employees\u2019 Provident Fund (EPF) for the procedure.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe fertility rate in Malaysia has fallen alarmingly from 4.9 children per woman in the 1970s to 1.8 children per woman, which is below replacement level,\u201d he had said. (The replacement level is 2.1 children, a number that will ensure that babies produced by a woman is sufficient to replace herself and her partner, and over time, replace the generation and sustain the population).\r\n\r\n\u201cTherefore, to assist couples seeking fertility treatment,\u201d Lim had said, \u201cEPF will introduce a new category of withdrawals, allowing for fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure.\u201d\r\n\r\nFurther incentives from the government for IVF and other medical procedures include income tax relief of up to RM6000.\r\n\r\nBut declining birth rates is a growing worldwide problem, particularly among urbanized and rapidly urbanizing economies. Australia\u2019s fertility rate is 1.8 babies, the same as the UK while Canada \u00a0is 1.5 babies, Singapore (1.2 babies) and South Korea (1.1 babies).\r\n\r\nThe pace of life, the demands on time, stress, the cost of raising children and strains on finances all play a role in determining whether a country\u2019s population will or will not grow.\r\nWhen the Man is Infertile\r\nThere are so many factors contributing to why our country\u2019s fertility rates are dropping. Infertility is only one of the issues. However, it does affect about one in every six couples says this study. Researchers of another study estimate about one in every three cases of infertility is due to the male partner alone.\r\n\r\nContrary to cultural or popular belief, infertility is often incorrectly viewed as a female only issue. It takes two to tango as they say. The man is also a contributing factor to fertility problems and each contribute to around one-third of all infertility cases.\r\n\r\nAnd IVF is not the be-all-and-end-all answer.\r\n\r\n\u201cGiven the expense of in-vitro fertilization and its attendant technologies, emphasis should be placed on addressing the underlying causes of male infertility,\u201d said the above research.\r\n\r\nBesides, IVF\u00a0is expensive in Malaysia despite government incentives. The cost could go anywhere from RM10,000 to RM20,000 per cycle, according to The Sun report.\r\n\r\nFurthermore, the success rate is not 100%. In Malaysia, according to a 2018 New Straits Times report, the success rate for IVF is about 65%, and the procedure is not a walk in the park either.\r\n\r\nFor the man, infertility doesn\u2019t spell the end of the road. In fact, male infertility issues are easier to treat than female fertility issues. Preventive care may be key for some men involving simple changes to lifestyle habits, incorporating a healthy diet, supplements and other strategies.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat Is Male Infertility?\r\n\r\nGenerally speaking, it\u2019s when a husband is unable to make his wife pregnant due to low sexual function and low quality sperm cells. These two are affected by a multitude of causes including genetics, general health, state-of-mind, fitness, diseases and dietary contaminants which all determine: his libido (sex drive), erectile dysfunction (impotence), sperm count (volume of sperm), sperm motility (ability to swim) and testosterone level.\r\n\r\nMost men do not speak of these issues or want to seek medical help until they fail to father a child. Here are eight ways for men to boost their fertility before that happens.\r\n\r\n8 Tips for Boosting Male Fertility:\r\n1. Try D-Aspartic Acid Supplements\r\n\r\n\r\nD-aspartic acid (D-AA) is a type of amino acid that is sold as sports nutrition or dietary supplement for strength building and workout endurance. Research shows that D-AA is very much implicated in male fertility. It has been found that D-AA levels are often much lower in infertile men than in fertile men, and taking D-AA supplements may increase testosterone levels. Testosterone is the male sex hormone that plays a key role in the development of\u00a0male\u00a0reproductive tissues such as testes and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair. In short, it is what makes a male, male. It goes without saying that the hormone is absolutely essential to male fertility.\r\n\r\nA study carried out on infertile men \u00a0has shown that those taking 2.66 grams of D-AA for three months had increased testosterone levels by 30\u201360% and sperm count and motility by 60\u2013100%. The number of pregnancies also increased among their partners. \u00a0However, D-AA supplements only works for those with low testosterone levels. Those with normal testosterone levels found that D-AA didn\u2019t increase testosterone levels further. This suggests that D-AA supplements may improve fertility in men with low testosterone levels only but not those with normal to high levels.\r\n2. Don\u2019t be a Couch Potato \u2500 Exercise!\r\nExercising not only improves your fitness and confidence \u2014 it may also raise your testosterone levels. Studies show that men who exercise regularly have higher testosterone levels and better semen quality than men who are inactive. However, don\u2019t overdo exercise \u2500 it can have the opposite effect and potentially reduce testosterone levels. If you want to improve your fertility, hit the gym or just be more physically active.\r\n3. Get Enough Vitamin C\r\n\r\n\r\nThere is also some evidence that oxidative stress and high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) may lead to infertility in men as this study shows. \u00a0High levels of ROS may promote tissue injury and inflammation, increasing the risk of chronic disease. Adequate intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may help counteract some of these harmful effects and improve semen quality. A study on infertile men showed that taking 1000-mg vitamin C supplements twice a day for up to two months increased sperm motility by 92% and sperm count by more than 100%. It also reduced the proportion of deformed sperm cells by 55%.\r\n4. Minimize Stress Levels, Get Enough Sleep\r\nStress is a side effect of today\u2019s frenetic lifestyle. Traffic jams, demanding work deadlines and conflicts, family struggles, worries and physical and emotional issues all work to reduce sexual desire and satisfaction and impair fertility.\r\n\r\nIn a study titled \u201cThe association between daily stress and sexual activity\u201d, researchers believe the hormone cortisol may partly explain these adverse effects of stress. Prolonged stress raises levels of cortisol, which has strong negative effects on testosterone. A lot of people, men included, suffer from high levels of anxiety. Apart from medication \u2500 which is not good for you either \u2500 stress relief should include simpler techniques such as taking a walk and enjoying nature, meditating, doing stretch and breathing exercises, spending time with friends and getting enough sleep. Don\u2019t burn the candle at both ends!\r\n5. Let the Sunshine and Vitamin D through\r\n\r\n\r\nVitamin D, also known as the sunshine\u00a0vitamin, is naturally produced by the body as a response to sun exposure. It can also be consumed in food or supplements. Vitamin D\u00a0has multiple roles in the body. It helps maintain strong bones, teeth, the immune system, brain, and your nervous system. It also boosts testosterone levels.\r\n\r\nDon\u2019t take too much of vitamin D though. Too much of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia \u2500 a case of calcium build up in the blood causing nausea, vomiting, weakness, forgetfulness, frequent urination and even kidney stones. \u00a0Malaysia is a sunny country and we have enough sunshine all year round to make our own vitamin D. You can also boost it through eating fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, egg yolks, liver and dairy products.\r\n6. Take Fenugreek\r\n\r\n\r\nYes, fenugreek \u2500 the herb used for boosting breastmilk in breastfeeding mothers. Fenugreek\u00a0(Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a popular spice and culinary herb often used in Indian cooking. Apart from promoting milk flow for breastfeeding mothers, did you know that fenugreek is also good for boosting testosterone in men? One study had 60 men aged 25 to 52 take 600 mg of fenugreek extract and minerals daily for six weeks. At the end of the period, the men experienced significantly increased testosterone levels, libido, sexual performance and strength.\r\n7. Get enough Zinc\r\n\r\n\r\nDid you know that zinc is an element of great biological significance, not just for skin and hair health, but also for the body's metabolism and defense (immune) system in fighting off invading bacteria and viruses? It's no secret that Zinc has proven to reduce the duration of the common cold.\u00a0 Zinc plays a role in making proteins and DNA, cell division, cell growth and wound healing. Zinc is therefore a cornerstone of male fertility. Zinc deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction and poor sperm quality says this study.\r\n\r\nYou can up your zinc intake through a supplement or natural foods such as meat, fish, eggs and shellfish. Oysters are particularly high in zinc. Eating six medium\u00a0oysters\u00a0will provide you with 32mg, or 291% of one\u2019s daily zinc requirement! No wonder oysters are called an aphrodisiac!\r\n\r\nOther types of\u00a0shellfish also contain zinc but in less amounts than\u00a0oysters.\r\n\r\nSome seeds are also high in zinc. The highest \u2500 ranked by 1 ounce handfuls according to My Food Data \u2500 is the hemp seed which provides 10mg of zinc per 100g (of hemp seed) or 90% of the daily value. Number two in the rank and file is the humble pumpkin seed or kuaci as it is known\u00a0colloquially. It provides 8mg of zinc per 100g or 69% of the daily value. Pumpkin seeds have traditionally been used to boost male fertility, and in fact, been dubbed \u201cMan\u2019s Best Friend\u201d as they are the protectors the prostate gland.\r\n\r\nMany men have prostate issues and some commonly suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is a condition that causes problems with urination due to an enlarged prostate gland. Pumpkin seeds with its high zinc content are known to reduce the symptoms of BPH as well as improve testosterone levels and sperm count and quality.\r\n\r\nTherefore, if you're a husband\u00a0 looking for a stab at fatherhood, instead of reaching for a chocolate bar whenever you feel like snacking, reach for pumpkin seeds instead.\r\n8. Butt Out those Cigarettes and Put Away those Sodas and Alcohol\r\nSome lifestyle habits that are male fertility downers include smoking and drinking too much alcohol and sweet sugary sodas and carbonated drinks. All that Yam Seng and puffing away are no good for your overall health. When it comes to fertility, it has been found that men and women who smoke take longer to get pregnant than non-smokers as nicotine has been found to be detrimental to semen volume, sperm count and sperm motility.\r\n\r\nAs for alcohol, too much of it will not only pickle your liver, it will kill sperm as well. Heavy drinking \u2500 defined as 15 or more drinks per week \u2500 has been found to shrink the testes leading to impotence, decrease ejaculation and change the shape, size, and movement of sperm.\r\n\r\nAnd it goes without saying that consuming too much sugar will lead to obesity and all the health problems related to being overweight.\r\n\r\nAnd there you have it: How you can procreate successfully without having to resort to IVF and other expensive procedures.\r\n\r\nFor more on Fertility, go to Motherhood.com.my.