image bio

Celebrate Earth Day and commit to sustainability with 20% off sitewide, use code EARTHDAY. Shop Now

Login/Sign up to see rewards balance

0 Item(s) in the shopping cart
Home > Learn > Male Fertility > >4 Foods to Increase Male Fertility

4 Foods to Increase Male Fertility

Dec 07, 23 9 min

Originally published 12/24/2022. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 12/07/2023

 

Having healthy sperm quality is important to male fertility, and you can help increase your fertility by eating the right things. Read on to learn the 4 foods to increase male fertility.

By OBGYN and fertility specialist Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

Many of us know the basic guidelines of female fertility for women who are pregnant and trying to conceive, but male fertility is often left out of the conversation. Here are some guidelines on what nutrients to consume to best support male fertility levels.

Why is Male Fertility Important?

Fertility is not just dependent on female reproductive health. Male infertility or male factor infertility , is defined as any health issue that lowers the chance of a female partner becoming pregnant.1 If you’re trying to conceive (TTC), prioritizing the fertility levels and health of sperm and egg are equally as important!

Generally, male infertility falls into four categories:

  1. Sperm production problems
  2. Sperm delivery problems
  3. Sexual dysfunction
  4. Other lifestyle and environmental factors

The most common problem men with infertility face is a problem in the testes that causes abnormal sperm production. This is the case 65-80% of the time.2 Other causes could include a blockage that prevents sperm from leaving the body, hormonal imbalances, or, in the case of 20-30% of men, there are no identifiable causes.2 Male infertility is likely untreatable in a good majority of cases, although this doesn’t mean a pregnancy can never occur.1 Regardless of someone’s infertility being untreatable, it’s still recommended that infertile men seeking out fertility treatment or advice on male fertility be advised to adopt a healthy diet, increase exercise, use fertility-friendly lubricant, reduce stress, and more.1

Ensuring that male fertility is taken as seriously as female fertility sets families up for the best chances of success when TTC. After all, sperm is half the equation.

 

Shop male fertility vitamins

How Do You Classify “Good” Male Fertility?

When assessing a man’s fertility, the first step for many is ordering a semen analysis. This will give the physician an idea of the sperm concentration in a man’s semen, sperm motility, or how well that sperm is able to move, and if the sperm looks the way sperm cells are supposed to. Here is a general overview of what “normal” results might look like following a semen analysis:

Natalist Sperm Parameters, Healthy Semen Chart

For a breakdown of what these terms mean, read A Urologist’s Guide to Male Fertility.

If a male is able to ejaculate and a sperm analysis shows at least some normal levels of sperm morphology, if sperm have some forward progression, good motility, and an average pH between 7.2 and 8.0, fertility is likely to be average or good. Semen analysis can also be done discreetly and conveniently with an at-home sperm test kit.3

What Nutrients Are Essential for Male Fertility?

There isn’t a perfect list of men's fertility vitamins and minerals that will guarantee fertility and healthy sperm production, but there are a few nutrients that have been shown to play important roles in reproductive health.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are a great nutrient for supporting health as they fight free radicals, which can damage cells. Antioxidants have been shown to improve semen quality and potentially increase the probability of pregnancy and live birth.4 Common antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and others.5

Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital nutrients for heart health, sperm health, cell membranes, and more.6 Research supports omega-3 fatty acids' role in increased sperm count, concentration, and motility.7

Folate

Some data shows that zinc and folate supplementation may increase sperm count.8 Folate is also important for DNA maintenance, RNA transfer, and protein synthesis.

CoQ10

Another common antioxidant, CoQ10 or coenzyme Q10, is beneficial for supporting sperm health.9 There are also many CoQ10 benefits for women.

Vitamin D

Hormone balance and estrogen/testosterone production are also a large part of fertility in both men and women. Experimental studies have found that vitamin D supplementation supports male fertility by modulating hormone production and improving semen quality.10 Maintaining a balanced diet is a great way to ensure the intake of essential nutrients. For some, dietary supplements can also be a great way to support adequate intake of all nutrients. There are also some vitamins and minerals that can be difficult to consume through the diet alone. We’ve formulated tasty gummy vitamins to help you consume an adequate intake of these essential nutrients, including CoQ10 gummies and vitamin D gummies . Male prenatal vitamins are also formulated with all the essential vitamins and minerals needed to support male fertility and healthy sperm parameters.

4 Foods to Eat for Male Fertility

So we’ve reviewed what nutrients play a role in male fertility, but how can you consume these nutrients in your daily life? Here’s a list of some fertility foods for men and food groups you should prioritize in your diet:

1. Veggies

Broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, leafy greens, kale, sweet potatoes, the list goes on! These vegetables are all high in antioxidant compounds such as vitamins C and E, and many vegetables, specifically dark leafy greens, have high folate levels.11

2. Fruits

Berries, tomatoes, cantaloupe, oranges, citrus, and more. Fruits are a great source of antioxidants and folate.6

3. Nuts and Seeds

There are so many nutrients and healthy fats packed into nuts and seeds that are good for overall health as well as them being a great fertility food. Walnuts, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc. are high in omega-3s, zinc, protein, folate, potassium, and many other nutrients.6

4. Fish and Liver Oils

Fish and fish oils are one of the few ways to get vitamin D through food.13 Vitamin D and omega-3 nutrient foods include fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and liver oils found in beef liver and cod liver oil.6,12 Plant oils like flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.6 Fish oil benefits for women’s fertility have also been observed.

It’s important that you follow recommended dietary guidelines to ensure adequate consumption of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.14 No diet will be able to cure infertility or make someone more fertile, but eating healthy nutrients is a great way to support overall health, including sperm health. It’s also recommended to consume fortified foods such as eggs, dairy products, fruit juices, etc. for added nutrients like vitamin D and folate. Be sure to contact your doctor if you have specific questions about your diet.

What Foods to Avoid for Male Fertility

Generally, it’s recommended to stay away from highly processed foods. Smoking and excessive drinking are also not recommended when trying to conceive as these can lead to impaired sperm and low sperm count. Research has also found that diets rich in red meat, fatty dairy, sweets, and coffee, are associated with poor semen quality and reduced fertility.

Basically, just avoid eating sweets and processed foods in excess and try to stick to a diet full of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, and lean dairy products.

For more information on male health, check out related articles such as Can Men Get Postpartum Depression and Side Effects of a Vasectomy.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Male fertility is just as important as female fertility when TTC.
  • Male fertility usually falls into one of four categories: sperm production problems, sperm delivery problems, sexual dysfunction, and other lifestyle and environmental factors.
  • Patients seeking out treatment or advice on male fertility are advised to adopt a healthy diet, increase exercise, use fertility-friendly lubricant, reduce stress, and more.1
  • If a male is able to ejaculate and a sperm analysis shows at least some sperm that are of normal morphology, have some forward progression, good motility, and an average pH between 7.2 and 8.0, fertility is likely to be average or good.
  • Essential nutrients for male fertility include antioxidants, CoQ10, folate, vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Prenatal vitamins for men contain all the essential nutrients needed to support male fertility.
  • Four recommended foods for supporting male fertility are nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruits, and fish and liver oils.
  • Diet and nutrition aren’t likely to make someone infertile or fertile, but diet can have a large impact on overall health and sperm health.

 


Dr. Kenosha Gleaton is board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics and is the Medical Advisor of Natalist. She received her MD from MUSC and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Gleaton is passionate about women, youth, and mentoring. She is a Scrubs Camp instructor, a program to increase student entry in healthcare, and serves as a Compassion International adoptive parent. She is also a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the American Association of Professional Women.


 

Sources:

  1. Leslie SW, Siref LE, Khan MA. Male Infertility. PubMed. Published 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562258/
  2. Anawalt, MD B, Page, MD, PhD S. UpToDate. www.uptodate.com. Published November 11, 2020. Accessed November 29, 2023. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-male-infertility-beyond-the-basics?source=related_link
  3. Home sperm testing kits and sperm storage | Legacy. https://www.givelegacy.com/. https://www.givelegacy.com/for-today/
  4. Nassan FL, Chavarro JE, Tanrikut C. Diet and men’s fertility: does diet affect sperm quality? Fertility and Sterility. 2018;110(4):570-577. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.025
  5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Antioxidants: In Depth. NCCIH. Published November 2013. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth
  6. Office of Dietary Supplements - Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Nih.gov. Published 2017. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/#h7
  7. Salas-Huetos A, Arvizu M, Mínguez-Alarcón L, et al. Women’s and men’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids and their food sources and assisted reproductive technology outcomes. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2022;227(2):246.e1-246.e11. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2022.03.053
  8. Wong WY, Merkus HMWM, Thomas CMG, Menkveld R, Zielhuis GA, Steegers-Theunissen RPM. Effects of folic acid and zinc sulfate on male factor subfertility: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Fertility and Sterility. 2002;77(3):491-498. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/s0015-0282(01)03229-0
  9. Salas-Huetos A, Rosique-Esteban N, Becerra-Tomás N, Vizmanos B, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. The Effect of Nutrients and Dietary Supplements on Sperm Quality Parameters: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Advances in Nutrition. 2018;9(6):833-848. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy057
  10. de Angelis C, Galdiero M, Pivonello C, et al. The role of vitamin D in male fertility: A focus on the testis. Reviews in Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders. 2017;18(3):285-305. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-017-9425-0
  11. Office of Dietary Supplements - Folate. ods.od.nih.gov. Published November 30, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/#h3
  12. Harvard School of Public Health. Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. The Nutrition Source. Published September 18, 2012. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/
  13. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D. Nih.gov. Published September 18, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
  14. Current Dietary Guidelines | health.gov. health.gov. https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/dietary-guidelines/current-dietary-guidelines

Shop Products

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Daily Packets

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$60

Subscribe & Save $2.00 sticker favorite

The Lube

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$23

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Gummies

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

Early Pregnancy Test Strips

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$74 $16

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Gummies

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

CoQ10 Liquid Capsules

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Daily Packets

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$60

Inositol Plus

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

Early Pregnancy Test Strips

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$74 $16

sticker save

The Test Strip Pack

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$37

sticker favorite

Ovulation Test Kit

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$25

sticker bestseller

Pregnancy Tests (4-Count)

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$16