The need for fertility stimulation in men and women cannot be overemphasised especially when a marriage is childless in some communities in Nigeria.
While chemical methods for fertility stimulation may have some side effects and are not readily available, remedy from natural sources can be used.
Now, in a new study, researchers are encouraging men with fertility challenges to consume coconut water as often as possible.
They were able to show in animal studies that coconut water intake can cause an increase in sperm count and motility while reducing significantly the number of abnormal sperm.
In these animal studies to evaluate the effect of coconut water on fertility in male Wistar, the researchers showed that coconut water increased fertility in male Wistar rats.
The study in the 2019 edition of Asian Journal of Pregnancy and Childbirth involved Augustine I. Airaodion at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, in collaboration with John A. Ekenjoku, Kenneth O. Ngwogu and Ada C. Ngwogu.
Around the world, coconut fruit products have been used in popular medicine for the treatment of various diseases, such as arthritis and diarrhoea.
Coconut water, the liquid obtained from immature coconuts, in its natural form is a refreshing and nutritious beverage, widely consumed around the world due to its beneficial health properties.
Moreover, coconut water plays an important alternative role for oral rehydration and even for intravenous hydration of patients in remote regions.
In addition, coconut water protects against induction of myocardial infarction. Its constituent is also claimed beneficial health functions for retarding ageing and preventing cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Coconut water is fat-free and has zero cholesterol. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties, helps to lose weight, very beneficial to a person with kidney stones due to its minerals, potassium, and magnesium content.
Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive after regular sexual intercourse for two years in the absence of a known reproductive problem.
Couples who cannot conceive often experience emotional and psychological trauma. Sadly, societal norms dictate that the woman is the cause of infertility, ignoring male infertility.
In low-resource settings such as Nigeria, accessing basic assisted reproductive technology treatments can be challenging or impossible for many couples who want to conceive.
For the study, 30 male Wistar rats weighing between 180 and 200 g were used for the experiment. They were randomly divided into 6 groups of 5 rats each.
Animals in groups A, B and C were administered normal saline for 10, 20 and 30 days respectively via the oral route. Those in groups D, E and F were similarly treated but with 3 ml of undiluted coconut water harvested from immature coconuts.
At the end of treatment, the animals were sacrificed and the internal organs (testes and cauda epididymis) removed. Tests were done to measure sperm count, including abnormal sperms, and acidity level of the semen.
In this study, an increase was observed in sperm count when animals treated with undiluted coconut water was compared with the control groups throughout the period of administration. This increase was significant after 20 days of treatment and above.
In addition, coconut water was observed to decrease the number of abnormal sperms when compared with the control animals after 10, 20 and 30 days treatment respectively.
The researchers said “the enhanced sperm production observed in this study following coconut water administration might have resulted from its mineral composition as well as its antioxidant effect.
”Decreased abnormality of sperm in coconut water-treated animals might be as a result of protection of Sertoli cell. For normal testicular function, Sertoli cell plays a vital role in maintaining a conducive environment for sperm production.
“Protection of Sertoli cells may positively affect the maturation process of sperm, which might result in decreased abnormality of sperms observed in this study.”
No significant difference was observed in the acidic level of the semen when animals treated with coconut water were compared with the control animals throughout the experiment, indicating that coconut water did not perturb the normal acidity (pH) range.
If the semen becomes acidic, it makes sperms highly fragile, thus leading to a higher rate of the sperm dying.
Previously, these researchers had reported a significant decrease in sperm motility when animals were treated with pawpaw leaf and bitter leaf extracts respectively.
According to them, “The stimulatory motility observed in the sperm of rats treated with coconut water in this study might suggest that coconut water acts contrary to the mechanism of action of pawpaw on sperm motility.
“The increase in sperm motility observed in this study is dependent on the number of days treated. This is indicative that the continuous consumption of coconut water will sustain an increase in sperm motility.”
There is usually an inverse relationship between sperm mortality and sperm motility. As sperm mortality decrease, sperm motility, increases and vice versa.