How to Improve Male Fertility

Parsley Health
Medically Reviewed
February 12, 2019

Couples need to consider male infertility or subfertility as part of the equation early. And in doing so, it makes sense to hold men to the same standards of preconception self-care.

At Parsley Health, we work with members who are interested in pre-pregnancy planning all the time. This typically starts months before conception, if not sooner. Looking to boost your fertility? Here’s where to start.

1. Take your diet seriously.

Results from observational studies show healthy diets rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, zinc, and lycopene, vitamins like D and folate, and low in saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids were inversely associated with low semen quality . Research also shows that eating seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and skimmed milk was linked with increased sperm quality, while diets rich in processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets may be detrimental to sperm quality. Specifically, a high intake of alcohol, caffeine, and red meat and processed meat negatively influences fertility rates in female partners.

2. Exercise regularly, but not too hard.

Exercise in general seems to improve sperm health, but research has shown the type of exercise you do matters. When researchers compared moderate intensity continuous training, high intensity continuous training, and high intensity interval training, moderate intensity training came out on top. In fact, high loads of endurance training may interfere with fertility . Keep moving, but keep your workouts lighter to optimize sperm health. If you enjoy endurance or HIIT training, an expert like a Parsley Health health coach can help you create an exercise plan that works for you.

3. Drink (if you must), but not to excess.

Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine, which are known to negatively impact fertility and sperm production. Drink both only in moderation which, for most, means limiting intake to 1-2 drinks/cups of either daily.

4. Don’t smoke.

Numerous studies suggest that cigarette smoking is associated with lower semen volumes, sperm counts, and reduced percentages of motile sperm. By quitting smoking, you can optimize your chances for conceiving . Most evidence suggests that chronic, regular, and especially heavy marijuana use is also associated with reduced sperm number and function.

5. Supplement wisely.

There are a number of agents, when used appropriately, that have demonstrated mostly mild to modest improvements in both sperm quantity and quality. Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, eurycoma longifolia jack, ginger, mucuna pruriens and shilajit can improve sperm quality and motility. Evidence also suggests that sperm count may be modestly boosted with ashwaganda, zinc and D-aspartic acid amongst other agents and strategies. Be sure to work with a seasoned health provider with a working scientific knowledge of these and other agents to determine which may be appropriate for you as well as the correct dosing regimen.

6. Avoid Testosterone Unless Medically Necessary

The use of testosterone supplementation should not be taken lightly. Young men can actually become subfertile or infertile due to the unnecessary or inappropriate use of testosterone. Testosterone supplementation can actually cause atrophy in the testicles and subsequently reduce sperm counts. In many cases, reversal of the process is difficult or impossible after prolonged use.

Issues with fertility are not uncommon but can often be corrected without invasive or expensive interventions. Typically a fundamental and personalized approach to health including a uniquely optimized diet for the individual, appropriate rest and sleep , attention to stress mitigation and management, regular involvement in the right physical activity and perhaps specific supplementation will help to improve not only your wellbeing in general, but your sexual and reproductive fitness as well. Parsley Health physicians and health coaches specialize in curating such programs for you.

Parsley Health

Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.

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Parsley Health is Hilton's virtual women+ health benefit whose medical team treats the root cause of symptoms and conditions by getting to know you on a deeper level, identifying risk factors, and creating a health plan just for you.

Parsley Health is available to all women+ Team Members (and eligible spouses and 18+ dependents) who are enrolled in an Anthem or Cigna health plan through Hilton.

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