By Zaira Salvador BSc, MSc (embryologist) and Cristina Mestre Ferrer BSc, MSc (embryologist).
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.

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Authors and contributors

 Zaira Salvador
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). Embryologist specializing in Assisted Procreation, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). More information
License: 3185-CV
 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
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4 comments

  1. Featured
    Patrick

    Hi Dr Sandra,

    My semen analysis report says I’ve got Teratozoospermia. I know it’s because I smoke, drink alcohol almost every day, and from time to time I sniff cocaine. I take the blame for that.

    But is there any vitamin supplement I can take apart from quitting from all these toxic habits?

    Thanks!

    • Sandra FernándezBA, MA

      Hello Patrick,

      If you stop consuming these toxic products and start taking vitamin supplements, your sperm quality may improve, yes. But take into account miracles do not exist, and if you’ve consumed large amounts of any of them, and depending on how long you’ve been doing it, you semen sample may appear to be quite damaged.

      If you’re planning to conceive, maybe you need to turn to IVF or any other assisted reproductive technology. My advice is that you take vitamin supplements during a couple of months, without smoking or drinking alcohol, or consuming any other drug, and then wait for around 3 months until spermatogenesis finishes. Then take another semen analysis to see if it’s improved.

      Ask your doctor before this, of course.

      Regards

  1. KWISABA Anicet

    I have a problem of low sperm count (2.000.000/ml), low motility (90% don’t move at all) and low morphology (only 25 % are normal). One month ago I started taking a food supplement (FertilAid for men and Spermotrend) and I had to take it for two months.

    After finishing those vitamins, I have seen no improvement. In VITRO, IUI or ICSI can be successful to have kids in my case?

  2. ann due

    Hi, Dr. My husband’s sperm analysis remark result is teratozoospermia, dated June 7 but we have a 1 child who is now turning 3 years old. How has it happened that he has teratozoospermia now?