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Top 7 Men's Health & Fertility Tips

A reproductive endocrinologist offers actionable guidance for men looking to improve their overall health and fertility potential.

June 3rd, 2021 | 8 min. read

By Shaun Williams, MD, FACOG

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), male factor issues account for 50% of all infertility cases. The good news? Simple lifestyle changes can often significantly improve sperm count. Here's what to do to increase your chances of success.

In this article:

Infertility Doesn't Discriminate

For couples who are struggling to conceive, all the unknowns can quickly lead to anxiety-inducing questions: Is it my fault we can't get pregnant? What's the reason we're having trouble conceiving? Is there anything I can do to increase my fertility potential? 

Some hopeful dads may end up requiring the assistance of fertility treatment in order to make their dream come true, but others can significantly improve their sperm quality and quantity by taking fairly simple steps.

Men's Health & Fertility Tips

While women's fertility is quite complex (think: hormone levels, uterus, fallopian tubes, and all the other key ingredients needed to create and sustain a healthy pregnancy), the factors involved in men's fertility are comparatively uncomplicated.

The key player in male fertility is, you guessed it, sperm! According to ASRM, there are three common issues that can impede the journey to conceive. A man might:

  • Produce too few sperm to fertilize an egg
  • Make sperm that are not shaped properly or that do not move the way they should
  • Have a blockage in his reproductive tract that keeps sperm from getting out

The last issue may require medical intervention to resolve, but in terms of sperm quantity and quality, the ball could be in your court. Let's talk about the top seven ways men can increase their fertility potential with diet and lifestyle modifications.

Bonus: These actions will also result in a healthier body and mind overall!

1. Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol

Did you know that alcohol can have a detrimental effect on fertility

Heavy drinking can result in low levels of testosterone, reduced sperm production, and altered sperm (meaning those swimmers aren't the right shape, or simply aren't strong enough to get all the way to the egg and fertilize it).

Reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake can make a significant difference in sperm quality. If you struggle with substance use, or think you may need some extra support to make this change, don't keep it to yourself.

There are many free and accessible resources available to help you, including local groups, treatment referral services, and educational tools

2. Keep Your Body Temperature Regulated

Elevated body temperature, particularly around your scrotum, may have a role in reduced sperm production, according to research. Limiting or avoiding time in hot tubs and saunas may be beneficial.

You should also avoid tight-fitting pants and underwear (try switching from briefs to boxers), and refrain from leaving your laptop (which generates extra heat) on your lap for extended periods of time.

3. Stop Smoking

Smoking of any kind (cigarettes, JUUL, E-Cig, cigars, marijuana) is harmful and counterproductive to a healthy conception, pregnancy, and baby. Smoking is associated with impotence and erectile dysfunction.

Nicotine, and the more than 4,000 chemicals used in cigarettes, have been associated with damage to genetic material. Studies also suggest that both smoke and smokeless tobacco impairs sperm function. 

Male smokers can experience decreased sperm quality, lower counts, motility, and an increased number of abnormally shaped sperm. If you smoke, now is the time to stop.

There are various smoking cessation programs that can help to support you.

Men's Fertility Q&A

Learn more about men’s health and fertility by watching an instant replay of Dr. Williams' Q&A session with questions from real patients.

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4. Limit Stress

Stress is a part of life, but doing your best to control your body’s response to stress can have an impact on sperm production. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, meditate, and do your best to avoid stressful situations when trying to conceive.

5. Pay Close Attention to Your Diet

Diets that include red meat, processed meats, butter, coconut oil, high-fat dairy, pizza, high-sugar energy drinks, sweets, and refined grains are associated with risk for low sperm count and do not support fertility.

Greater consumption of organic poultry, low-mercury fish, and a Mediterranean-style diet will help towards healthy sperm counts.

6. Consider Vitamins & Supplements

For men who are hoping to increase fertility and conceive soon, certain supplementation with the appropriate male-focused vitamins is encouraged. Here's what to consider adding to (or removing from) your regimen to give yourself the best chance at successful conception.


Zinc is an essential element for male fertility, and requires regular dietary intake or supplementation, since it can't be stored in the body. Zinc levels are strongly associated with increased sperm volume/count, and also help to combat low testosterone levels.

Folic Acid

Folate, the natural form of folic acid, actually depends on zinc to help form DNA in the sperm, and folic acid could potentially boost sperm count. It can also help with erectile dysfunction.


Taking selenium (200 μg/day) for six months has been shown to increase sperm concentration, motility, seminal antioxidant capacity, and reduce sperm DNA fragmentation - all good things for men trying to conceive. 

Dietary sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, fish, turkey, chicken, and eggs.


The majority of studies have found that carnitines were most effective in men with severe idiopathic infertility, but that L-carnitine supplementation can be beneficial for sperm production in all men.


DHA, which is present in fish oil supplements, has also shown beneficial effects on sperm cell structure, and antioxidants, such as co-enzyme Q10, can help protect the DNA quality inside the sperm.

Avoid Steroids

Testosterone boosters and anabolic steroids, such as testosterone gels or injections, can severely affect sperm production for extended periods of time. These are best avoided and should be discontinued as soon as pregnancy is contemplated.

7. Follow the 3-Month Plan

Did you know that a sperm cell takes 60-90 days to fully develop and mature?

When planning for the best quality sperm and least risk of male fertility issues, we recommend taking three months to focus on these lifestyle changes while planning for fatherhood.

Fun fact: While women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, a man's body creates sperm on a daily basis (this process is called spermatogenesis), and 1,500 new sperm cells are actually "born" every second. 

Struggling to conceive?

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The Best Time to Start is Now

At any point in your family-building journey, it will be beneficial to live a healthy lifestyle. Making the decision to educate yourself and take the steps to make positive changes now are two of the best things you can do as you prepare for parenthood.

If you hit some bumps in the road or you aren't getting pregnant as quickly as you expected, talk to your doctor and schedule male fertility testing to ensure all is functioning normally.

Much information is gained from a simple semen analysis, and this is best performed early on to rule out any underlying issues - many of which can be remedied with the help of a fertility specialist.

With 1 in 6 couples globally now experiencing infertility, having trouble conceiving is likely much more common than you'd think. Don't be afraid to reach out for help as you work to grow your family.

Shaun Williams, MD, FACOG

Dr. Shaun C. Williams is a Partner and fertility specialist at Illume Fertility. He is board certified in both Reproductive Endocrinology and Obstetrics and Gynecology and has been working with fertility patients in Connecticut since 2005.

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