6 Ways to Increase Sperm Count & Improve Male Fertility

Sperm count is the number of sperm present in a given amount of semen. According to the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, a healthy sperm count is at least 39 million per ejaculate or 15 million per millilitre (ml). A sperm count under 15 million per ml would be considered a low sperm count and may cause male infertility. Fertility issues affects one in every six couples, and researchers estimate that one in three is due to the male infertility. 

What determines sperm quality & health? 

Sperm count and sperm health is based on various factors like movement, quantity and structure. Sperm motility is essential as it is needed for the sperm to swim to fertilise the egg. If at least 40% of your sperm are moving, it’s likely to positively affect fertility. Quantity and semen volume is also important and if there is little sperm in an ejaculation (i.e. a decreased sperm production), there will be a lower sperm count available to fertilise an egg. Although not as important as movement and quantity, the more sperm count you have with a normal shape (with an oval head and long tail), the more likely you are to produce health sperm and to be fertile. 

representative graphic of sperm count

How to increase sperm count

You can do several things to boost sperm count and increase your chances of conceiving. Lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy diet, alcohol intake, a balanced diet, supplements, adequate sleep and exercise can all affect sperm count. The tips and advice below provide information on how to get pregnant, increase sperm fertility, improve sperm count and increase fertility health. 

Have a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to living a healthy life in general. Studies suggest if you are overweight, this can impact your chances of male infertility. A study by Wang et al (2017) suggests that a higher body mass index (BMI) reduces sperm movement and sperm count. Therefore, weight loss and ensuring a healthy BMI can profoundly increase better semen quality and volume, concentration, and mobility and reduce infertility problems.

Exercise 

Exercise has been shown to increase testosterone, improve sperm count and improve fertility overall. Men who exercise regularly have higher testosterone levels and better sperm count and quality according to research in the journal Reproduction. However, exercise should be done in moderation as too much may have the opposite effect and reduce testosterone levels in the short-term. 

Male runner stretching legs. Active and healthy lifestyle concept as ways to increase sperm count

Have a healthy diet 

Eating foods rich in antioxidants is necessary to have a healthy diet when trying to get conceive. Antioxidants are foods that deactivate compounds called free radicals which damage cells. They are found in many fruits and vegetables, and eating these foods may help to raise sperm count. It is also necessary to increase healthy fats that include omega-3 and omega-6. Other foods that are sperm-friendly include vitamin C, antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats. 

Healthy fruit and vegetables laid out flat on a table as ways to increase sperm count

Minimise stress 

Stress may decrease sexual satisfaction, sexual function and can cause male fertility problems. The hormone cortisol may be associated with this as cortisol is not beneficial and has adverse effects on testosterone levels. If you want to improve your fertility, it is important to manage stress effectively through relaxation techniques like meditation, walking or doing something enjoyable. 

A white smart phone showing the screen about to turn off

Take vitamins

Vitamins and supplements are beneficial for male fertility. Vitamin D deficiency can affect testosterone levels and sperm health. Likewise, Vitamin C is also helpful. There is some evidence that Vitamin C can improve sperm quality. Taking 1,000mg of vitamin C supplements twice daily over two months increased sperm motility by 92%. It also improved sperm count by more than 100% and reduced the number of damaged sperm cells. Zinc supplements are another dietary supplement that may be beneficial as it increases male fertility. Zinc is found naturally in animal foods such as red meat, fish and eggs. 

Someone pouring yellow tablets into the palm of their hand, supplements to help increase sperm count

Avoid alcohol and drugs 

High levels of alcohol and drug consumption over long periods can be detrimental to a healthy sperm count, sperm motility and affect male fertility. Low sperm counts and poor sperm quality have been linked to people who indulge in heavy drinking, smoke and use illegal drugs like cocaine. Alcohol can reduce testosterone and affect sperm health, so drinking really should be done in moderation. 

An empty brown bottle of beer with a full glass next to it

Does Sperm Count affect IVF success? 

Sperm count plays a crucial role in the success of IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) treatments. While IVF techniques can often compensate for lower sperm counts by selecting and using viable sperm for fertilisation, higher sperm counts generally increase the chances of success. A higher count increases the pool from which healthy sperm can be selected, potentially improving the quality of embryos produced. Whilst IVF certainly can assist some couples with male fertility issues, maintaining a healthy sperm count can significantly impact the overall effectiveness and success rate of the treatment.

IVF treatment and sperm count

Considering the mental impact

Male infertility isn’t just a physical issue – it comes with emotional baggage too. Some men may feel stressed, inadequate, or isolated as they grapple with fertility challenges. It’s important for anyone going through this to understand that these feelings are normal. Talking to friends or seeking professional help can make a big difference, and offers a safe space to express feelings. Partners also play a crucial role; open conversations can help strengthen your relationship and reduce feelings of isolation. Addressing the emotional aspects is vital. Getting support early can help improve your overall wellbeing and may potentially boost your fertility outcomes.

Key sperm count takeaways 

These simple lifestyle changes may boost male fertility, boost sperm count and improve sperm motility. It is also a good rule of thumb to maintain and improve your general health for all of life’s phases. Although there is no guaranteed fix, a doctor may prescribe treatment options such as medication to increase sperm count for those with additional health issues. If you have any specific queries, talk to your doctor, who will be able to assess your needs, do a semen analysis and make individual recommendations.

Written by Bethany Cornell from My Expert Midwife

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