Preparing for Pregnancy

Tips To Improve Sperm Health

New parents looking at results of pregnancy test. Dad is smiling at results.

Most conversations about conception focus on women, but did you know that nutrition and lifestyle affect men and women’s fertility alike? Nutrition impacts egg and sperm health, and hormones involved in conception (1). Whether you’re beginning to think about pregnancy, or are currently trying to conceive, sperm health may be something you’re thinking about. Below are some Tips to Improve Sperm Health.


Factors That Impact Male Fertility

A number of nutrition and lifestyle factors can impact sperm health. For example: 

    • Low antioxidant intake,
    • Low zinc intake,
    • High alcohol intake,
    • Steroid abuse, 
    • Heavy metal and halogen exposure,
    • Certain health conditions, and
    • Some medications (1). 

This list only includes a few examples. Therefore, if you are experiencing fertility challenges, it may be best to speak with a healthcare professional. 


Tips to Improve Sperm Health

Eat Foods High in Antioxidants 

Include foods that are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals (specifically iron and zinc), and fibre. Antioxidants protect the reproductive system, including sperm, from damages from oxidative stress (1). Research suggests an antioxidant supplement may help improve sperm quality and motility (2). However, it’s always best to speak with a healthcare professional before taking supplements. Foods that are high in antioxidants include fruits, vegetables, and some nuts.

Get In Enough Fatty Acids 

Fatty acids are important for sperm cell membranes and sperm function (2). Therefore, increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils can help improve sperm health. Diets supplemented with fish oil may also support sperm quality and motility (2). Trans and saturated fats have been shown to have the opposite effect (2) and should be eaten in moderation.   

Limit Alcohol Consumption

High alcohol intake can disrupt fertility in both men and women. Because of this, it’s recommended that men limit alcohol intake to two drinks a day (1). Be mindful of alcohol intake and opt for other beverages – water is always a great choice!  

Engage in Movement

Physical activity is important for physical and mental well-being. Exercise can help regulate hormones, reduce stress, and keep your organs healthy.

Research suggests that following a well-balanced diet has consistently been associated with better sperm health. Diets containing seafood, poultry, whole grains, legumes, skimmed milk, fruits, and vegetables are linked to improved sperm quality (2).


Final Notes from The Nest

When trying to conceive, nutrition and lifestyle are important factors for both women and men. However, conversations tend to focus less on men. Men should aim to eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in antioxidants, zinc, and fatty acids. They should also limit alcohol consumption and enjoy physical activity to improve their sperm health.

For more information on fertility and trying to conceive check out our other articles on improving egg health and foods that support fertility.

Article Written by Natalie Johnston

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  1. Brown, JE. Nutrition through the life cycle. 7th ed. Boston: Cengage, 2019. 586 p.  
  2. Nassan FL, Chavarro JE, Tanrikut C. Diet and men’s fertility: does diet affect sperm quality? Fertil Steril. 2018;110(4):570–577.