Diet Plan & Foods to Boost Sperm Quality

By BSc, MSc (embryologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist), BSc, MSc (embryologist) and BA, MA (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 05/19/2016

A man's diet can affect sperm quality to a large extent. Since the things you eat affect your overall state of health, it is only logical that sperm quality is higher in healthy men. So, in short, the types and quantity of food you eat affect sperm production.

Following unhealthy eating patterns, like excessive total calorie intake or too much fat and sugar are, is associated with infertility in men. Broadly speaking, fertility gradually declines as weight increases.

For sperm quality to be improved, one should follow a balanced diet, avoiding saturated fats. If there are seminal alterations, adding multivitamin supplements to your diet is recommended.

How are sperm produced?

Spermatogenesis or sperm formation is a process that takes place in the testicles, and takes between 64-72 days to finish. For men to boost their sperm quality, they are strongly advised to follow a balanced diet, rich in antioxidants. The goal is to prevent oxidative stress and free radicals from affecting sperm quality.

These molecules can break the sperm plasma membrane and therefore damage the structure of the sperm cell. This causes the sperms to be severely damaged and thus cannot be functional, which is to say, they won't be able to reach the egg and fertilize it. Men with a high level of oxidative stress can undergo various techniques that allow them to use only the sperms that haven’t been affected by these molecules.

Essential components in a diet plan for men

Several studies have shown that increased intake of antioxidant nutrients can increase infertility in males.

Antioxidants reduce the concentrations of reactive oxygen species in the semen. This is why they are so beneficial to improve sperm quality.

A well balanced diet is crucial to produce high quality sperm. Eating foods that are rich in fibre, low in fats and sugars, fruit and vegetables is key to male fertility. The following minerals and vitamins are the most important ones:

Selenium and zinc

They are necessary for testosterone production. They can be found in celery, eggplants, oysters, and chocolate.

Vitamin A

It has a high antioxidant capacity, protects the whole reproductive system, and is needed for the production of progesterone. It can be found in eggs, milk, carrots, and melon.

Vitamin C

It contributes to the improvement of sperm motility. It can be found in oranges, peppers, garlic, and almonds.

Vitamin E

It has a great antioxidant capacity. It boosts sperm quality and can be found in sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts, asparagus, and boiled spinach.

Sperm disorders

In cases where, after performing a semen analysis, one or multiple sperm parameters are found to be altered—whether it is sperm concentration, sperm motility, or sperm morphology—your physician could recommend you to take a vitamin supplement in order to boost your sperm quality.

After several months taking these supplements, the semen analysis will be repeated to assess whether sperm quality has experienced any improvement. Actually, recovery will be observed only in cases of men who presented a vitamin deficit before. If the problem is not a consequence of a low vitamin concentration, no improvement of sperm quality will be detected.

The truth is, only a few group of men are able to boost their sperm quality in the end. However, taking vitamin supplements is not detrimental for your health, so there is nothing you can lose and besides it may bring some benefits.

The semen analysis cannot be performed again right after the intake of vitamin supplements, since the approximate time period sperm production takes is three months. It will be after this time interval when one can be able to observe whether the sperms produced with these vitamin supplements are altered in some way or they are indeed normal.

FAQs from users

Can eating more berries improve sperm quality?

By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, berries (including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries) contain antioxidant pigments, in addition to absorbing free radicals of oxygen. In other words, including berries in your diet is a good option to improve or protect sperm quality.

Some studies have shown that pigments found in the skin and seeds of berries have multiple medicinal properties, including flavonoids, anthocyanins, tannins, and other phytochemicals.

In particular, blueberries, blackberries, lingonberries, and strawberries contain high amounts of vitamin C and other nutrients. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from cell damage.

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References

Kasturi, S.S. Tannir, J. Brannigan, R. The Metabolic Syndrome and Male Infertility. In: J Andrology. 2008;29(3):251-60.

Kort, H.I. Massey, J.B. Elsner, C.W. et al Impact of Body Mass Index values on sperm quantity and quality. J Andrology, 2005;7(3).

Magnusdottir, E.V. Thorsteinsson, T. Thorsteindottir, S. et al. Persistent organochlorines, sedentary occupation, obesity and human male subfertility. Human Reprod. 2005;20(1):208-15.

NHMRC. Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults; 2003. [cited 2009, May 26].

Osuna, J.A. Gomex-Perez, R. Arata-Bellabarba, G. Villaroel, V. Relationship between BMI, total testosterone, sex-hormone binding globulin, leptin, insulin and insulin resistance in obese men. Arch Androl, 2005;52(5):355-61.

FAQs from users: 'Can eating more berries improve sperm quality?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre Ferrer
 Laura Mifsud Elena
Laura Mifsud Elena
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biomedical Research from the University of Valencia, and another Master's Degree in Medicine and Reproductive Genetics from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche. Large experience working as an embryologist and head of laboratory at the Quirónsalud Hospital of Valencia, Spain. More information about Laura Mifsud Elena
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
BA, MA
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

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