What is L-arginine?
L-arginine is an amino acid that can be obtained from the diet, particularly from protein sources, such as red meat, eggs, poultry, fish, and dairy products. L-arginine is also made in laboratories and used as supplements to help support heart health, mental capabilities, and exercise performance, among others. Other natural sources of L-arginine include nuts, kidney beans, lentils, and fresh soybeans. It is also a good supplement for couples dealing with fertility issues. L-arginine is converted into nitric oxide in the body and lets the blood vessels to open wider.
According to studies, aside from improving blood circulation, L-arginine also has a role in the cell replication process, and helps improve the production and motility of sperm. Thus, L-arginine generally helps treat infertility or erectile dysfunction in men.
Apart from fertility, L-arginine is also known to provide the following health benefits:
- Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Boosts the immune system
- Helps regulate blood glucose levels
- Supports sexual functioning
- Helps increase energy levels
- Helps men achieve a sustained erection and increased orgasms in women
How can L-arginine improve fertility?
L-arginine can help improve male and female reproductive health due to the following:
1. Enhances the flow of blood to the genitals, uterus, and ovaries
A person’s reproductive health can be improved when there is an increased blood flow. L-arginine allows optimum production of eggs since it enhances blood circulation to the ovaries and promotes a better environment for the fertilized egg when it is implanted in the uterus.
Thus, the chances of conception are improved when there is proper reproductive organ functioning caused by enhanced blood flow.
2. Increases the levels of nitric oxide
L-arginine is needed to create nitric oxide, which can help dilate the blood vessels to improve blood circulation. According to research, elevated levels of nitric oxide may help prevent fertility issues in women, such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and fibroids.
It also promotes healthy levels of inflammation. In women, inflammation is known to contribute to numerous fertility problems, including conception and implantation.
3. Helps increase the production of sperm
According to research, daily L-arginine supplementation can help men increase their sperm count. In one study, the effects of taking L-arginine supplements became noticeable after 6-8 weeks. L-arginine may also help improve sperm motility, which increases the chance of conception, especially to couples who suffer from low sperm motility.
When it comes to in vitro fertilization (IVF), L-arginine may help improve sperm quality, thereby increasing the chances of fertilizing an egg.
4. Enhances cervical mucus production
Around 1 in every 20 women deal with fertility issues along with problems in cervical mucus production. Since L-arginine helps increase the flow of blood to the reproductive organs, it may also help in the production of cervical mucus in women. There are also women who abnormally produce thick mucus, making it difficult for sperm cells to travel through.
5. Supports healthy libido in men and women
A healthy libido in men and women play a significant role in conception. Increased libido can be achieved when there is an increased flow of blood to the male and female genitals. As previously mentioned, L-arginine can help improve blood circulation, and with that being said, increased blood flow to the genitals may help:
- Achieve sustained and frequent erections in men
- Improve erectile dysfunction
- Increase sexual arousal and orgasm in women
However, men and women with herpes should not take L-arginine since it may help trigger an outbreak.
L-arginine Benefits for Men
Men who take L-arginine may experience the following effects:
- Increased sperm motility, sperm count, and sperm quality
- Improved erection
- Healthy levels of testosterone
L-arginine has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to signal the hypothalamus to trigger the pituitary gland to release growth hormones that aid in fertility. L-arginine in the body becomes nitric oxide (NO), which is a chemical agent that is responsible for erections in males and orgasms in females. Without this chemical compound, there will be no erections in men, thereby making conception difficult and impossible.
L-arginine Benefits for Women
L-arginine can assist women in a number of ways, which include increasing cervical mucus, boosting libido, extending fertility in women who are above the age of 40, and promoting a healthy environment for embryo implantation.
In one study, L-arginine has shown to increase fertility rates in 33 percent of women who have difficulties in conceiving. L-arginine promotes nitric oxide synthesis, which, can help improve blood flow due to blood vessel dilation. Enhanced blood flow to female reproductive organs, such as the genitals, ovaries, and uterus, may help improve the probabilities of conception.
Moreover, according to some research studies, treatments that contain a combination of L-arginine with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) can naturally help balance the body's hormones as well as restore women's sexual function, especially those who have estrogen imbalances and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). There are also studies that suggest the combination of L-arginine and herbs such as green tea extract, chasteberry, and other antioxidant supplements to help women who are struggling to conceive.
L-arginine dosage usually depends on the type of condition it is used for. Below are the usual doses for the following conditions:
- Erectile dysfunction and heart problems - 3-6 grams daily (dose divided into two)
- Exercise performance - up to 9 grams daily
- Improved blood flow and inflammation - 1 gram or 1,000 mg daily for healthy adults
The risk of having more side effects increases when L-arginine is taken in higher doses. In general, healthy men and women who are taking daily 1 gram L-arginine supplements may experience temporary side effects, such as:
It is also possible for people taking L-arginine to experience allergic reactions, such as swelling of the airways and lungs. Thus, individuals who have known allergies or asthma must be cautious when taking L-arginine supplements. Even though there is not much research done on L-arginine's effects on children and pregnant women, it appears to be safe when low doses are taken. You can also speak with your doctor if L-arginine is the right supplement for your current health issues.
- L-arginine promotes nitric oxide synthesis, which, can help improve blood flow due to blood vessel dilation.
- L-arginine has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to signal the hypothalamus to trigger the pituitary gland to release growth hormones that aid in fertility.
- L-arginine generally helps treat infertility or erectile dysfunction in men.