Fertility Vitamins for Men. Do you have a hard time getting your partner pregnant? Are you considering trying to get pregnant yourself with a surrogate mother or through a sperm bank? If so, you might have wondered whether fertility vitamins or supplements can help. There is evidence that some fertility supplements can help improve sperm count and fertility in men. But before you start taking them, it’s important to understand exactly how they work and how much evidence there is behind them.
Fertility Vitamins For Men
Fertility refers to people’s ability to reproduce without medical assistance.
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.
Sometimes infertility is linked to sexual function, and other times it could be linked to semen quality. Here are some examples of each:
- 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 ways 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.
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 example, a study in infertile men suggested that taking 2.7 grams of D-AA for 3 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).
Another controlled study in healthy men showed that taking 3 grams of D-AA supplements daily for 2 weeks increased testosterone levels by 42%.
However, the evidence is not 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.
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.
More research is needed to investigate the potential long-term risks and benefits of D-AA supplements in humans.
Shop for D-aspartic acid supplements online.
2. Exercise regularly
Besides being good for your general health, exercising regularly can boost testosterone levels and improve fertility.
Studies show that men who exercise regularly have higher testosterone levels and better semen quality than inactive men.
However, you should avoid too much exercise, as it may have the opposite effect and potentially reduce testosterone levels. Getting the right amount of zinc can minimize this risk.
If you rarely exercise but want to improve your fertility, make becoming physically active one of your top priorities.
3. Get enough vitamin C
You’re probably familiar with vitamin C’s ability to boost the immune system.
Some evidence indicates that taking antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C, may improve fertility.
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.
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.
There’s also some evidence that oxidative stress and excessively high levels of ROS may lead to infertility in men.
Taking in enough antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may help counteract some of these harmful effects. There’s 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 2 months increased sperm motility by 92% and sperm count by more than 100%. It also reduced the proportion of deformed sperm cells by 55%.
Another observational study in Indian industrial workers suggested that taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C five times a week for 3 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.
Taken together, these findings suggest that vitamin C may help improve fertility in infertile men with oxidative stress.
However, controlled studies are needed before any definite claims can be made.
4. Relax and minimize stress
It’s hard to get in the mood when you’re feeling stressed, but there might be more to it than not feeling up for sex. Stress may reduce your sexual satisfaction and impair your fertility.
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.
While severe, unexplained anxiety is typically treated with medication, milder forms of stress can be reduced with 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 can be important for male and female fertility. It’s another nutrient that may boost testosterone levels.
One observational study showed that vitamin-D-deficient men were more likely to have low testosterone levels.
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 1 year increased their testosterone levels by around 25%.
High vitamin D levels are linked to greater sperm motility, but the evidence is inconsistent .
6. Try tribulus terrestris
Tribulus terrestris, also known as puncture vine, 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 twice daily for 2 months improved erectile function and libido.
While Tribulus terrestris does not raise testosterone levels, research indicates that it may enhance the libido-promoting effects of testosterone.
However, further studies are needed 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 with a placebo.
Another study in 60 healthy men showed that taking 600 mg of Testofen, a supplement made from fenugreek seed extract and minerals, daily for 6 weeks improved libido, sexual performance, and strength.
These findings were confirmed by another, larger study in 120 healthy men. Taking 600 mg of Testofen every day for 3 months improved self-reported erectile function and the frequency of sexual activity.
Also, the supplement significantly increased testosterone levels.
Keep in mind that all of these studies examined fenugreek extracts. It’s 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.
Getting enough zinc is 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.
Also, taking zinc supplements increases testosterone levels and sperm count in those who are low in zinc.
Furthermore, zinc supplements may reduce the decreased testosterone levels that are associated with excessive amounts of high-intensity exercise.
Controlled trials need to confirm these observational findings.
Vitamins and Supplements to Increase Sperm Count
If you or your partner is experiencing fertility issues due to low sperm count, know that you’re not alone.
Sperm count can be influenced by many factors including smoking, radiation, varicocele, infection, urinary tract infections, nutritional deficiencies, and oxidative stress.
This article covers sperm health basics and provides information from studies on vitamins, minerals, ayurvedic medicines, and supplements that have been demonstrated to help support a healthy sperm count.
Sperm count is exactly what is sounds like: the total number of sperm present in a man’s ejaculate.
Sperm count is calculated by counting the number of sperm in a small sample of ejaculate, and then multiplying that by the total volume of semen collected. And don’t forget that sperm and semen are different things — more on that now.
Sperm cells (also known as spermatozoa) are the male reproductive cells. Sperm has two main components: a head, and a tail called the flagellum. Sperm are what fertilize a female’s egg during conception.
Semen (aka seminal fluid) is the male reproductive fluid. Semen has a whitish color and gets ejaculated from the male reproductive tract during sex. Semen helps keep sperm alive until it has a chance to reach the female’s egg.
What is Considered a “Normal” Sperm Count?
Normal sperm count can vary depending on several factors. According to the WHO, normal sperm count varies from 39 million on the low end to 928 million on the high end.
True oligospermia, the medical term for low sperm count is based on the number of sperm per ml of semen.
- Mild oligospermia = 10 to 15 million sperm/mL.
- Moderate oligospermia = 5 to 10 million sperm/mL.
- Severe oligospermia = 0 and 5 million sperm/mL.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements to Increase Sperm Count
Malnutrition of many sorts along with oxidative stress can reduce one’s sperm count. Fortunately taking supplements can help to counteract nutritional deficiencies and increase antioxidant levels to protect sperm. The following nutrients have all been demonstrated to increase sperm count:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 fatty acids
Below, we will go into detail on the above-mentioned vitamins, minerals, and supplements.
Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants. Unlike most other mammals, humans can’t make vitamin C, which means we need to get it through our diet.
Studies show that vitamin C may help to increase many parameters of sperm health, including sperm count. In one study, vitamin C supplementation helped to double the sperm count of some participants. Study participants also experienced increased sperm motility and decreased amounts of deformed sperm cells.
Vitamin B12 is a pro-metabolic vitamin that’s involved in many different aspects of cellular energy production.
B12 is essential to the sperm production process. Researchers have found that supplementing with vitamin B12 is just as effective as supplementing with antioxidants when it comes to supporting healthy sperm count.
Zinc is one of the most important micronutrients for males. Zinc has been demonstrated to raise testosterone, promote fertility, and foster muscle growth.
Low zinc levels, on the other hand, have been tied to reduced male fertility. Studies show that low zinc is correlated with low sperm count, poor sperm quality, and decreased fertility rates.
Thankfully, it’s easy to get enough zinc through diet alone. Eating plenty of red meat, eggs, and other animal products should ensure adequate zinc status. Oysters are an especially great zinc source.
One more important benefit of zinc: it can help maintain your male hormones in the face of intense exercise. Overdoing it on the field or in the gym can tank your testosterone levels, but supplementing with zinc can help to reverse this undesirable change. Zinc’s ability to maintain T is just one more way that it can help support men’s overall fertility and sperm count.
If those foods don’t sound appetizing to you, or just want to make sure you’re getting enough, you should certainly consider some zinc supplements to help support your sperm count.
Vitamin D is unique in that it’s both a vitamin and a hormone. Vitamin D affects an impressively wide range of physiological functions — including male fertility.
One 2019 review of 18 studies found that men with higher D levels had improved overall fertility and sperm count.
Considering that roughly 40% of U.S. adults have a vitamin D deficiency, ensuring vitamin D intake through dietary sources and/or sunlight is a wise choice. If you live in a cold or cloudy area, supplementation might be necessary.
Folate is another B vitamin that’s important for fertility. Some studies have demonstrated that folate supplementation can help to increase sperm count.
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) is an enzyme and antioxidant that protects sperm from oxidative stress and other types of degradation.
Interestingly enough, Co-Q10 is found within seminal fluid — and higher concentrations of it are correlated with high sperm count and improved sperm motility. Studies show that supplementing with Co-Q10 can increase its presence within the semen, boosting fertility in the process. Other studies have also found that Co-Q10 supplementation increases sperm count.
There’s a reason CoQ10 is highly regarded by fertility specialists and it’s certainly a supplement you should consider adding to your routine when trying to increase your sperm count.
13 Ways to Increase Male Fertility
Dad’s sperm not only affects whether you’ll get pregnant, but it can also determine if your pregnancy will be healthy. To be sure his boys are in tip-top shape when you’re trying to get pregnant, he should make these fertility-boosting health changes now.
Have a Doc Determine His Ideal Weight
Being underweight or overweight can have negative effects on a man’s sperm, and it can kill a couple’s sex life because weight problems can affect a man’s libido and performance. Sticking to a healthy diet that contains a good mix of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, grains, and dairy, and fitting in physical activity on most days of the week can help him reach or maintain a healthy weight.
Eat More Foods With Folate
Folic acid isn’t important just for moms-to-be. Men who had lower levels of folic acid in their diet had a higher rate of abnormal chromosomes in their sperm, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. When sperm with abnormal chromosomes fertilize an egg, it may result in miscarriage or birth defects. More than half of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo. This doesn’t mean your guy has to take folic acid pills: Foods that are high in folate, like beans, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, citrus fruits, and folate-enriched cereals, breads, and pastas, will help him get the recommended 400 milligrams of folic acid he needs daily.
Get Enough Sleep
In a 2019 study, researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark associated earlier bedtimes with improved sperm quality. The key seems to be going to bed before 10:30 pm. The researchers also found a link between getting sufficient sleep—between seven-and-a-half and eight hours per night—with improved fertility.
Start Taking a Male Fertility Supplement
It takes two to create a healthy embryo, so if women should take prenatal vitamins, so should men. Men should start taking these supplements six months before conception to set the stage for their sperm to be strong, healthy, mobile, and less clumpy, suggests Sherry Ross, M.D., Ob-Gyn, author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. She says these vitamins should include B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and Selenium. “Zinc is helpful in maintaining normal testosterone levels. Selenium has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects and improving low sperm counts. There is no downside to being your healthiest self while trying to conceive with your partner.”
Stop Smoking to Speed Up Sperm Mobility
Smoking cigarettes can cause low sperm counts and slow-moving sperm so your guy should quit, preferably at least three months before you try to conceive. “Sperm production takes about three months, so any changes the man makes today won’t show up in the semen for at least three months,” says Suzanne Kavic, M.D., director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at Loyola University Health System. He should also nix marijuana or other illicit drugs as sperm may be damaged by these drugs, and women are more likely to miscarry if their partners use recreational drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and any of the other typical amphetamines.
Limit Alcohol to Avoid Sperm Abnormalities
He doesn’t have to give it up completely, but it’s a good idea for men to limit their alcohol intake if they hope to become a dad. Alcohol has been shown to reduce sperm production and cause sperm abnormalities. Dr. Kavic says one to two drinks a day is fine (as long as they’re normal-size servings!). Another reason he should dry out a bit: A lot of men don’t perform as well sexually when they’re inebriated, Dr. Kavic says.
Schedule a Pre-Conception Checkup
A thorough checkup before trying to conceive will give him an overview of his health and fertility status. As in your pre-conception visit, he can expect discussions about his body mass index (BMI), any medications he uses, lifestyle factors that may affect fertility and pregnancy, any genetic disorders or history that may pose a risk to the future baby, and what he can do to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. He will also be given any needed immunizations to help prevent him from passing on illnesses like chickenpox and the seasonal flu to you during pregnancy.
Cut Down on Caffeine to Boost Sperm Count
A study of Danish men found that sperm count and sperm concentration were slightly reduced in men who had a high soda and/or caffeine intake. Dr. Mazzullo says men should limit their caffeine consumption (that includes coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks) to 300 milligrams a day (about three 6-ounce servings).
Nix Stress With Exercise
Stress can increase abnormal sperm and reduce its concentration. Sleeping and eating well, exercising regularly to work off pent-up energy and tension, making time to hang out with his guy friends (or sit in front of the tube and do nothing!) and other activities that he finds enjoyable or relaxing can help keep his stress in check.
Make Sure His Meds Are Fertility-Friendly
Before you start trying to conceive, he should make a list of all the medications he takes—including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements—and check them with his doctor. Some medications can affect the quality or quantity of a man’s sperm. If he’s using a medication that could possibly interfere with your baby-making goals, his doctor should be able to recommend a more fertility-friendly alternative.
Keep His Testicles Cool — Really
There’s a reason a male’s testicles hang outside of his body. “Sperm production has to take place at a certain temperature, and even our core body temperature is too hot, so the testicles are outside to keep cool,” explains Dr. Kavic. If your guy does something that overheats his testicles, it can interfere with sperm production. So he should limit the time he spends in hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms. Dr. Mazzullo recommends that men keep it to 15 minutes, no more than twice a week.
He may want to change his laptop habits, too. Dr. Kavic says there’s a possibility that using a computer on his lap too often may cause genital warming that could possibly affect the sperm. His best bet? Keep the lap time to a minimum, invest in a laptop cooling pad, and use the laptop on a desk more often.
Avoid Toxins That Can Cause Infertillity
If your guy works around a lot of chemicals and toxins, he needs to make sure they don’t do a number on his member. Toxic chemicals such as heavy metals, lead, and chemical solvents can increase the percentage of damaged sperm, so men who expect to conceive in the near future should try to avoid them. If his job places him around chemicals, he can limit his contact by wearing a face mask and protective clothing and always using proper ventilation.
Eat More Walnuts
In October 2013, the Biology of Reproduction Papers-in-Press published research highlighting the link between walnuts and fertility. In particular, eating 75 grams of walnuts daily was found to improve “sperm vitality, motility, and morphology”—maybe because of the antioxidants, micronutrients, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in walnuts. The research was conducted on healthy men between 21 and 35 years of age.
6 supplements men can take for stronger, healthier sperm
- 1. Vitamin E
- 2. Vitamin C
- 3. L-carnitine
- 4. Vitamin D
- 5. Zinc
- 6. Folic acid
- Can men take prenatal vitamins?
- When to see a doctor about infertility
- Men can take supplements like vitamins C, D, and E to boost fertility.
- Experts recommend taking fertility supplements for at least 3 months.
- Fertility supplements won’t undo infertility issues from an unhealthy lifestyle.
An estimated 10% to 20% of infertility cases in men stem from issues related to their sperm. However, male prenatal vitamins — also known as male fertility supplements — may help improve sperm count, says Juan Alvarez, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois.
Important: When trying to get pregnant, it’s paramount that you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Fertility supplements cannot undo the toll that an unhealthy lifestyle takes on fertility.
Alvarez recommends a daily multivitamin that includes zinc, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin D along with a few other supplements. Here’s what researchers know so far about these supplements and their affect on male fertility.
1. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. A 2011 study suggests vitamin E along with selenium is useful in increasing a sperm’s motility — or ability to swim to an egg — in infertile men.
The Mayo Clinic recommends 15 mg/day, with intake not exceeding 180 mg, as this may increase the risk for prostate cancer.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin involved in protein metabolism, among other bodily processes. Vitamin C itself is an antioxidant that may help improve sperm quality.
According to a 2020 review, clinical evidence of vitamins that increase male fertility most includes vitamin C, as well as L-carnitine, vitamin E, and zinc. Alvarez recommends 1000-2000 mg of vitamin C per day.
A 2012 review suggests L-carnitine may help to increase sperm quality and sperm movement. The NIH reports that sufficient amounts of carnitine are made by the human body, so there are no dietary recommendations regarding the supplement.
However, some studies on carnitine supplementation have found that taking 2 grams a day for 2 months increased sperm motility.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another fat-soluble vitamin helpful in reducing inflammation, maintaining calcium and phosphate levels, and regulating cell growth.
A 2017 study found that adding more Vitamin D helped control calcium levels, which is essential for sperm motility. Alvarez recommends 15 mcg of vitamin D per day.
Zinc is involved in a series of processes that give sperm the physical capabilities to fuse with and penetrate an egg.
A 2016 review reported that low zinc levels were associated with male infertility. Alvarez says he recommends a male prenatal multivitamin with zinc due to its ability to boost testosterone production, sperm count, and sperm function.
The NIH recommends no more than 40 mg of zinc per day, as too much can lead to harmful side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and an impaired immune system.
6. Folic acid
Folic acid is a variant of folate — a water-soluble B vitamin that may help reduce sperm abnormalities according to Alvarez. The Mayo Clinic recommends adults take no more than 400 micrograms per day.
It’s important to note that the effects of folic acid and zinc on male fertility are still debatable. A 2020 study by the NIH found no benefit in semen quality or birth rates in men taking zinc and folic acid supplementation.