10 Ways to Boost Male Fertility and Increase Sperm Count
Infertility is a growing problem worldwide.
It affects about one in every six couples, and researchers estimate about one in every three cases is due to fertility problems in the male partner alone (1, 2).
While infertility is not always treatable, it can sometimes be improved with a healthy diet, supplements and other lifestyle strategies.
This article lists some of the main lifestyle factors, foods, nutrients and supplements that have been associated with improved fertility in men.
What Is Male Infertility?
Fertility refers to people’s ability to reproduce by natural means.
Male infertility is when a man has a poor chance of making his female partner pregnant. It usually depends on the quality of his sperm cells.
The following aspects of sexual function and semen quality may affect fertility:
• Libido: Otherwise known as sex drive, libido describes a person’s desire to have sex. Foods or supplements that claim to increase libido are called aphrodisiacs.
• Erectile dysfunction: Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is when a man is unable to develop or maintain an erection.
• Sperm count: An important aspect of semen quality is the number or concentration of sperm cells in a given amount of semen.
• Sperm motility: An essential function of healthy sperm cells is their ability to swim. Sperm motility is measured as the percentage of moving sperm cells in a sample of semen.
• Testosterone levels: Low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, may be responsible for infertility in some men.
Infertility can have multiple causes and may depend on genetics, general health, fitness, diseases and dietary contaminants.
Additionally, a healthy lifestyle and diet are important. Some foods and nutrients are associated with greater fertility benefits than others.
Here are 10 science-backed ways to boost sperm count and increase fertility in men.
1. Take D-Aspartic Acid Supplements
D-aspartic acid (D-AA) is a form of aspartic acid, a type of amino acid that’s sold as a dietary supplement.
It should not be confused with L-aspartic acid, which makes up the structure of many proteins and is far more common than D-AA.
D-AA is mainly present in certain glands, such as the testicles, as well as in semen and sperm cells.
Researchers believe that D-AA is implicated in male fertility. In fact, D-AA levels are significantly lower in infertile men than fertile men (3).
This is supported by studies showing that D-AA supplements may increase levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone that plays an essential role in male fertility.
For instance, an observational study in infertile men suggested that taking 2.66 grams of D-AA for three months increased their testosterone levels by 30–60% and sperm count and motility by 60–100%.
The number of pregnancies also increased among their partners (4).
Additionally, a controlled study in healthy men showed that taking 3 grams of D-AA supplements daily for two weeks increased testosterone levels by 42% (5).
If you are interested in trying a d-aspartic acid supplement, there is a good selection available on Amazon.
However, the evidence is not entirely consistent. Studies in athletes or strength-trained men with normal to high testosterone levels found that D-AA didn’t increase its levels further and even reduced them at high doses (6, 7).
Taken together, the current evidence indicates that D-AA supplements may improve fertility in men with low testosterone levels, while they don’t consistently provide additional benefits in men with normal to high levels.
Further studies need to investigate the potential long-term risks and benefits of D-AA supplements in humans.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising not only improves your confidence and physical performance — 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 (8, 9, 10).
However, you should avoid too much exercise, as it may have the opposite effect and potentially reduce testosterone levels. Adequate zinc intake can minimize this risk (11, 12, 13).
If you rarely exercise but want to improve your fertility, becoming more physically active should be one of your top priorities.
3. Get Enough Vitamin C
Oxidative stress is when levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) reach harmful levels in the body.
It happens when the body’s own antioxidant defenses are overwhelmed because of disease, old age, an unhealthy lifestyle or environmental pollutants (14, 15, 16).
ROS are constantly being produced in the body, but their levels are kept in check in healthy people. High levels of ROS may promote tissue injury and inflammation, increasing the risk of chronic disease (17).
There is also some evidence that oxidative stress and excessively high levels of ROS may lead to infertility in men (18, 19).
Adequate intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may help counteract some of these harmful effects. There is also some evidence that vitamin C supplements may improve semen quality.
A study in infertile men showed that taking 1,000-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% (20).
Another observational study in Indian industrial workers suggested that taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C five times a week for three months may protect against DNA damage caused by ROS in sperm cells.
Vitamin C supplements also significantly improved sperm count and motility, while reducing the numbers of deformed sperm cells (21).
Taken together, these findings suggest that vitamin C may help improve fertility in infertile men suffering from oxidative stress.
However, controlled studies are needed before any definite claims can be made.
4. Relax and Minimize Stress
Stress may reduce your sexual satisfaction and impair your fertility (22, 23, 24).
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. When cortisol goes up, testosterone levels tend to go down (25, 26).
While severe, unexplained anxiety is typically treated with medication, milder forms of stress can be alleviated by numerous relaxation techniques.
Stress management can be as simple as taking a walk in nature, meditating, exercising or spending time with friends.
5. Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another nutrient that may boost your testosterone levels.
One observational study showed that vitamin D-deficient men were more likely to have low testosterone levels (27).
A controlled study in 65 men with low testosterone levels and vitamin D deficiency supported these findings. Taking 3,000 IU of vitamin D3 every day for one year increased their testosterone levels by around 25% (28).
Additionally, high vitamin D levels are linked to greater sperm motility, but the evidence is conflicting (29, 30).
6. Try Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus terrestris, also known as puncturevine, is a medicinal herb frequently used to enhance male fertility.
One study in men with low sperm counts showed that taking 6 grams of tribulus root daily for two months improved erectile function and libido (31).
While Tribulus terrestris does not raise testosterone levels, research indicates that it may possibly enhance the libido-promoting effects of testosterone (32, 33, 34).
However, further studies need to confirm its aphrodisiac properties and evaluate the long-term risks and benefits of supplementing with it.
7. Take Fenugreek Supplements
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a popular culinary and medicinal herb.
One study in 30 men who strength-trained four times a week analyzed the effects of taking 500 mg of fenugreek extract daily.
The men experienced significantly increased testosterone levels, strength and fat loss, compared to a placebo (35).
Another study in 60 healthy men showed that taking 600 mg of Testofen, a supplement made from fenugreek seed extract and minerals, daily for six weeks improved libido, sexual performance and strength (36).
These findings were confirmed by another, larger study in 120 healthy men. Taking 600 mg of Testofen every day for three months improved self-reported erectile function and the frequency of sexual activity.
Also, the supplement significantly increased testosterone levels (37).
Keep in mind that all of these studies examined fenugreek extracts. It is unlikely that whole fenugreek, which is used in cooking and herbal tea, is as effective.
8. Get Enough Zinc
Zinc is an essential mineral found in high amounts in animal foods, such as meat, fish, eggs and shellfish.
Adequate zinc intake appears to be one of the cornerstones of male fertility.
Observational studies show that low zinc status or deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels, poor sperm quality and an increased risk of male infertility (38).
Also, taking zinc supplements increases testosterone levels and sperm count in those who are low in zinc (39, 40, 41).
Furthermore, zinc supplements may reduce the decrease in testosterone levels that’s associated with excessive amounts of high-intensity exercise (12, 13).
Controlled trials need to confirm these observational findings.
9. Consider Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a medicinal herb that has been used in India since ancient times.
Studies suggest that ashwagandha may improve male fertility by boosting testosterone levels.
One study in men with low sperm cell counts showed that taking 675 mg of ashwagandha root extract per day for three months significantly improved fertility.
Specifically, it increased sperm counts by 167%, semen volume by 53% and sperm motility by 57%, compared to the start of the study. In comparison, minimal improvements were detected among those who got a placebo treatment (42).
Increased testosterone levels may be partly responsible for these benefits.
A study in 57 young men following a strength-training program showed that consuming 600 mg of ashwagandha root extract daily significantly increased testosterone levels, muscle mass and strength, compared to a placebo (43).
These findings are supported by observational evidence indicating that ashwagandha supplements may improve sperm counts, sperm motility, antioxidant status and testosterone levels (44, 45).
10. Eat Maca Root
Maca root is a popular plant food that originated from central Peru. Traditionally, it has been used for its ability to enhance libido and fertility.
Several studies in men showed that taking 1.5–3 grams of dried maca root for three months improved self-reported sexual desire or libido (46, 47, 48).
Studies also suggest that maca root may improve sexual performance. In men with mild erectile dysfunction, 2.4 grams of dried maca root slightly improved self-reported erectile function and sexual well-being (49).
Taking 1.75 grams of maca root powder every day for three months also increased sperm counts and motility in healthy men (50).
These findings have been partly confirmed by reviews, but the researchers noted that the evidence is weak and more research is needed before definite claims can be made (51, 52).
Additionally, maca root doesn’t seem to affect hormone levels. Taking 1.5–3 grams of maca root per day for three months had no effects on testosterone or other reproductive hormones in healthy, fertile men (53).
Numerous strategies may help improve your fertility, although this depends on its cause.
Also, keep in mind that fertility and libido usually go hand in hand with your general health.
For this reason, anything that improves your overall health is likely to boost your fertility at the same time.
Here are 8 additional tips to boost fertility and sperm count/quality:
• Lead a healthy lifestyle: Unhealthy lifestyle practices impair your overall health, including fertility (54).
• Lose excess weight: Obesity is associated with infertility. If you are infertile and obese, weight loss should be one of your top goals (55, 56, 57).
• Limit your alcohol intake: Avoid heavy alcohol consumption, as it may reduce testosterone levels and impair semen quality (58, 59).
• Get enough folate: A few studies indicate that a low intake of folate may impair semen quality (60, 61).
• Get adequate sleep: Getting adequate sleep is vital to maintaining your health. Restricted or excessive sleep has also been linked to poor semen quality (62).
• Snack on walnuts: Eating a lot of antioxidant-rich foods, such as walnuts, seems to benefit fertility (63).
• Consider supplements: Antioxidant supplements also seem to work. Some evidence suggests that coenzyme Q10 improves semen quality (64, 65).
• Avoid eating too much soy: Soy is rich in isoflavones, which are associated with lower semen quality (66).
How to Increase Sperm Volume
You can increase your sperm volume by making simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Try a variety of methods to see which ones work best for you.
Modify your diet. The right changes in the things you eat can lead to more, as well as healthier, sperm. Don’t underestimate this step.
• Reduce or eliminate processed foods and switch to a diet low in fats, and high in protein. Eat many vegetables and whole grains, and buy organic foods when possible. Drink plenty of water. Anything that is beneficial to your overall health is also beneficial to your little mini-me’s.
Increase your intake of foods rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. These nutrients can lower sperm defects and increase sperm motility. It is as easy as including an orange for dessert! A single 8-ounce (230 ml) glass of fresh orange juice contains about 124 milligrams of vitamin C — a full day’s supply.
Take in plenty of mineral zinc. It’s associated with increased semen volume, sperm count, and testosterone levels. Take in about 11mg daily, which you can get by eating walnuts, beans, oysters, beef, and chicken.
Take in amino acids, as supplements or in food. Amino acids, traces of which can be found in meats, fruits, and vegetables, are believed to increase sperm count and keep the sperm from clumping. Amino acids that you can incorporate into your diet include:
• L-Carnitine, which can be found in red meat and milk
• L-Arginine, which can be found in nuts, sesame seeds, and eggs
• L-Lysine, which can be found in dairy and cheeses
Try supplementing your diet with folic acid. Folic acid (Vitamin B9) may contribute to an increase for semen. The 400 micrograms daily are found in cereals, green leafy vegetables, legumes, and orange juice.
Increase your daily amounts of calcium and vitamin D. You can take supplements of both, or spend significant time in the sun so your body can synthesize vitamin D, and eat plenty of yogurt, skim milk, and salmon to boost your calcium intake. If you do spend more time in the sun, be sure to lather up with some sunscreen to prevent damage from harmful rays and possible melanoma.
Consume allicin, which comes from garlic. Allicin, an organosulfur compound, increases sperm volume by optimizing blood flow to your sexual organs, creating millions of happier sperm. Find new and interesting dishes to add to your garlic repertoire, or beast it and act like a real man by adding a clove or two of raw garlic to your vegetable smoothie in the morning.
Eat more of the following sperm-healthy foods. If you want your sperm to be brimming with healthy little apples of your eye, consider incorporating more of the following foods into your diet:
• Goji berries (antioxidants)
• Pumpkin seeds (omega-3 fatty acids)
• Walnuts (omega-3 fatty acids)
• Asparagus (vitamin C)
• Bananas (vitamin B)
Clean up your lifestyle. Certain lifestyle habits, which stress your body and immune system, will lead to a lower sperm count. If you are trying to make a baby, it’s best to refrain from smoking, drugs (except prescription drugs — check with your doctor on this one), and alcohol in moderation.
Drop your drawers. Not literally, but make sure your testicles are not jammed up against your body. Heat will kill the little guys, so switch to boxers and give them some breathing room. If there’s a reason that men are born with testicles on the outside of their body, it’s for them to stay nice and cool.
Get off the bicycle. Bicycle seats are notorious for reducing sperm count, and if you think about it for a moment, you will realize why. The pressure, the jostling, the bouncing — none of these are what sperm enjoy. Switch to the car or the bus while you’re in sperm production mode, and your workers will respond with higher production.
Get out of the hot tub. Yes, it’s conducive to the right mood, but while you’re making moony eyes, they’re succumbing to heatstroke. Leave the tubbing for relaxation afterwards.
Lighten up. Stress kills, and while you may be able to handle it for a while, your sperm is not nearly so rugged. Stress can interfere with the hormones needed to assist in sperm production. Given any kind of emotional (or physical) abuse, and they’ll wriggle off to that great scrotum in the sky, never to return.
Keep your weight in check. Being too large — or too small — can affect hormonal balance. Too much estrogen or too little testosterone will have a negative impact on your sperm count. So hit the gym before you hit the sack, and find new and interesting ways to keep yourself motivated, so you don’t give up on your weight loss mission before it starts.
Knock off the steroids. While they may help you bulk up your muscles, your un-muscular testicles will shrink. Regardless of sperm count issues, who wants that? Anabolic steroids are harmful to your overall health.
Get your rest. Your body does most of the good production work while you sleep — and that includes sperm production. Get a full 8 hours of sleep every night when you’re working on upping your sperm count…
Try PC muscle exercises. PC muscle exercises are used by men not only to last longer, but also to increase the volume of their sperm. There are a lot of PC muscle exercises that you can do to both satisfy your partner and give your progeny the best shot at success.
Stay away from lubricants during sex. Lubricants, while helpful for the process, may be harmful for the results. That’s because lubricants, including saliva, lotions, and jellies, can interfere with sperm movement. If you need to, try using vegetable oil, peanut oil, or a lubricant such as PreSeed, which may not harm your sperm.
Limit your exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Toxic chemicals and radiation can cause permanent damage to sperm. If you regularly work with toxic chemicals, be sure to wear protective covering (gloves, masks, etc.) so you limit exposure to your skin. Avoid areas that you know produce too much of radiation, and only opt for medical procedures involving radiation if necessary.
Take note. All the above advice will not only help you increase the quantity of sperm, it will also improve the quality. Keep them healthy, active, and ready for the journey to come, and with any luck, one of them will reward you by becoming a baby!
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays an important role in improving testosterone levels as well as sperm production. Oysters are rich sources of this mineral. An increase in testosterone levels also helps improve your sexual desire and energy, which means that you are going to derive more pleasure from your sexual encounters besides having higher chances of conceiving.
High in protein and vitamin E, eggs are considered to help in the production of healthy and strong sperm in the testicles. They are also believed to prevent sperm cells from the harmful effects of free radicals, which may kill sperm.
Bananas contain an enzyme called bromelain which is supposed to increase male libido. They are also rich sources of vitamin B, which can help bring an increase in stamina, making sure that you have more energy available for your sexual encounters.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach are rich sources of folic acid. Low levels of folate can give rise to distorted sperm shapes such as ones with two heads or two tails. The sperm are also at an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities. This means that firstly your sperm will find it difficult to reach an egg and even if it does reach an egg, it will not be able to fertilize it. Furthermore, even if these sperms are able to fertilize an egg, the chances of birth defects are quite high in such cases.
A green vegetable that is high in vitamin C, asparagus is also a good food to increase sperm volume. Vitamin C protects the sperm cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and thus ensures that the sperm store in the male reproductive system does not get depleted.
Garlic is a very effective food that has been used for centuries in treating various physical ailments including heart problems and respiratory infections. What most people don’t know is that it is also a potent aphrodisiac and very effective in boosting sperm volume. It contains a compound called allicin which improves blood flow to the male sexual organs, increasing sperm production and semen volume.
Vitamin A is an important nutrient for increasing sperm production as well as improving their motility. Carrots are rich in this nutrient. You can also consume vitamin A by eating foods such as oatmeal, red bell peppers and dried apricots.
These berries are known to improve your overall stamina and mood. But that’s not all, they also keep temperatures in the scrotum at the optimum level. The scrotum contains the testes which produce sperm. Higher temperatures tend to hamper the sperm production and decrease the volume that is released in a man’s ejaculate. They also promote sperm production by improving blood circulation and protecting against free radical damage.
Another key nutrient for sperm volume is omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are supposed to increase sperm count as well as improve blood flow to the penis.
Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols which are known to improve testosterone production and reduce the size of an enlarged production. Both these factors help in increasing sperm count as well as semen volume. They also contain essential fatty acids that improve blood flow to the male reproductive organs.
Ginseng is a powerful herb known for its powerful effects on improving virility in men. It increases sex drive and also enhances your sexual performance. It has been found to be quite effective in men with erectile dysfunctions, increasing semen volume and sperm production.
This one is another herb that is known to increase semen volume. It has been found that men who consume this herb in the form of a supplement can expect higher sperm count per milliliter of semen, higher semen volume per ejaculation and also better sperm motility. It is also known to have a positive effect on the sex drive and arousal of both men and women.
This list of foods is definitely not a comprehensive one. Eating a balanced diet (or taking a purpose-made supplement) which is rich in minerals such as zinc and vitamins such as A, B12, C, and folic acid will ensure that more sperms are produced in your testes and they are healthy enough to fertilize an egg.