For couples trying to conceive, good-quality sperm is as important as a high-quality egg. You can maximise sperm quality by choosing the best male fertility supplements for your situation, alongside a healthy lifestyle. Read on to discover which supplements research shows make a difference and how.
What does healthy sperm mean?
There are many things that affect men’s fertility and good quality sperm is often the key one. Other factors that can affect male fertility include certain medications, illnesses, hormonal imbalances or blockages within the sperm duct. A visit to your GP can help to diagnose and resolve these.
The parameters that influence the quality of sperm are;
- Motility – how the sperm moves.
- Morphology – the shape of the sperm.
- Concentration – the number of sperm in a millimeter of semen. A healthy range is 15–259 million per mL
- Total sperm count – the amount of sperm in 1 sample (made by 1 ejaculation) A healthy range is 39–928 million.
- DNA fragmentation – this means damage to the DNA (the genetic instructions to make the baby) carried in the sperm. High levels are a risk factor for infertility and miscarriage.
Sperm takes around two and a half months to develop and mature, fertility supplements can support this process from the start. Diet can affect sperm quality in as little as 2 weeks so it’s never too late to supplement! If you are considering diet and supplement changes, anything within that 2.5-month window of opportunity could be especially key.
What are the best male fertility supplements?
There are lots of prenatal supplements on the market for men. They consist of different combinations of the best vitamins and trace elements for male fertility combined into one pill. Different vitamins support sperm function in different ways and so different products can have different effects.
Some ingredients are antioxidants and they protect the sperm from damage. Some are key trace elements involved in sperm synthesis, and others improve sperm motility or shape. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key vitamins involved in sperm quality and how they affect sperm parameters.
Our top 5 best male supplements for fertility
- Co-Enzyme Q10, one of the most common supplements, plays a role in the production of cellular energy and helps preserve cellular integrity and function. Reviews of evidence have found that supplementation with this improved all aspects of sperm performance.
- Selenium is a micronutrient a lot of the UK population is deficient in. It plays a role in DNA synthesis and protection from oxidative damage as well as thyroid function. Thyroid function plays a key role in spermatogenesis (the creation of sperm), this is something you can have checked by a doctor if you think it may be an issue. Low levels of selenium can lead to male infertility. Supplementation may improve sperm motility and conception in a significant percentage of men with low selenium levels.
- Lycopene – the pigment that makes tomatoes red, is another powerful antioxidant able to prevent damage to sperm by free radicals. High concentrations of lycopene are found in the testes and seminal plasma although, levels are often lower in men suffering from infertility. A trial that gave men with infertility 25 mg of lycopene supplements a day for 12 weeks found significant improvements in sperm count, concentration and motility at the end of that period compared to those who did not take it.
- Folate – is a water-soluble vitamin, also called vitamin B9. Folic acid is the synthetic version, the advice is for all women trying to conceive to take this. It has been shown to reduce DNA damage in sperm and improve sperm motility.
- Vitamin B12 – One of its roles in the body is helping DNA synthesis. Furthermore, studies show that vitamin B12 can increase sperm count, enhance sperm motility, and reduce sperm DNA damage.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more nutrients and trace elements that have evidence to support their use for improving sperm quality.
Can fertility supplements for men solve your problems?
There are many factors involved in optimising male fertility, and a combination of them will likely be the most effective.
Fertility supplements for men can boost sperm health alongside good lifestyle choices. Being a healthy weight, eating a balanced Mediterranean-style diet, exercising, reducing stress levels, smoking and alcohol intake will all optimise male fertility.
If you want to learn about male fertility supplements and a dietary pattern to support sperm health, check out our Nutrition for Sperm Health Meal Plan & Guide, It explains which foods support sperm health and includes a 2 week meal plan to help increase male fertility, support your sperm health and improve chances of a successful conception. Additionally, it includes recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for 2 weeks as well as lifestyle advice.
Different supplements support different aspects of sperm health. If you are interested in improving a particular sperm parameter you could seek personalised support from a Specialist Fertility Nutritionist or dietitian who can tailor recommendations to you.
Supplements can interact with medications and taken in excess can cause harm, please read labels carefully and follow the instructions.