Male fertility

Find out more about diet and male fertility.

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Male fertility

Diet can affect male fertility - eating a healthy, balanced diet with variety and reducing alcohol intake can improve sperm quality and increase the chances of you and your partner conceiving.

Healthy weight

Being underweight or overweight can reduce your chances of conceiving therefore ideally, men should try to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Even if you do not lose enough weight to have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or less, losing some weight and increasing your activity levels is likely to be beneficial for your health.

Nutrients that can influence fertility

Certain nutrients are known to influence fertility in men. A healthy, balanced and varied diet will help ensure you get a wide variety of nutrients needed for male fertility. It is better to eat a healthy, balanced diet overall rather than just focusing on individual foods.

Selenium - selenium is needed for normal sperm production and development. Including foods such as Brazil nuts, fish, meat, poultry and eggs in the diet should provide enough selenium without the need for supplements. 

Zinc - low levels of zinc have also been linked to a low sperm count and reduced testosterone levels. Men can help keep their zinc levels topped up by including meat, dairy products, shellfish (such as oysters), wholegrain cereals and nuts in their diet.

Is there any evidence behind aphrodisiacs?

Not really – but it’s interesting that shellfish like oysters are rich in zinc and selenium that contribute to healthy sperm!

A man eating breakfast at the table

Change your lifestyle habits

Excess alcohol can affect sperm quality. Men should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week (one unit is equivalent to half a pint of normal strength lager, or a 25ml measure of spirits, a standard glass [175ml] of wine is around 2 units). 

Number of units =

strength (ABV) x volume (ml) ÷ 1000

multiply the ABV measured as a percentage by the amount of the drink in ml and divide the result by 1000

For example, to work out the number of units in a pint (568ml) of cider (ABV 5.2%):

5.2 (%) x 568 (ml) ÷ 1,000 = 2.95 units

It is best to spread your units over the week rather than having one or two heavy drinking sessions.

Other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, can also influence fertility. Smoking has been linked to low sperm count and sperm motility, therefore it’s recommended that you should quit smoking if trying for a baby. It will also help your partner give up if she is a smoker too.

If you’re thinking about trying for a baby, you can find out more useful information for you and your partner by reading our pages on trying for a baby.

Information reviewed September 2018

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Please note that advice provided on our website about nutrition and health is general in nature. We do not provide any personal advice on prevention, treatment and management for patients or their family members.

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