How to Have Healthy Sperm for Maximum Fertility

Doctors and male patient

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A healthy male discharges millions of sperm in a single ejaculation. During sexual intercourse, of all those millions of sperm, only a couple hundred will make it to a mature egg that is ready to be fertilized.

It is important to remember that there is still a lot to learn about male fertility. We do know that a lot of the things that make sperm healthy are the things that are healthy for men anyway. Keep in mind, though, that the following tips are merely considerations for men with potential fertility problems. Many men have no problem with their sperm count, no matter their lifestyles.

You should discuss any fertility problems with your healthcare provider to evaluate an underlying cause.

Factors That May Affect Sperm Health

These factors, some of which you can modify and others that you can't, may affect your sperm health:

  • Tight trousers and underwear, synthetic material and heat: It has been suggested that all these adversely affect fertility, so get out those baggy cotton boxers! Keep the family jewels cool. It is known that the testes function most effectively (including the production of sperm) at slightly cooler than core body temperature.
  • Hot tubs and saunas: Frequent use of hot tubs and saunas may lower sperm counts, as heat may decrease sperm production.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption can damage sperm production in a couple of ways. First, it may increase the production of estrogen by the liver, which can lower sperm count. Also, alcohol can directly poison the sperm-producing cells of the testicle. Limit your alcohol intake when you are trying to improve your fertility.
  • Drugs: There are a number of drugs that affect male fertility, including steroids (corticosteroids and anabolic steroids, and testosterone replacement), cytotoxic drugs used in cancer treatments, marijuana, and opiates. Contact your healthcare provider if you are on any long-term medication that you are worried may affect your fertility. Healthcare providers should always inform you of any side effects, but it is always easy to check if you have forgotten.
  • Environmental toxins: There is quite a lot of conflicting evidence about environmental substances that may cause damage to sperm. It is known that radiation causes damage and birth defects. Other substances thought to have a detrimental effect on sperm are some perfumes containing phthalates, some types of pesticides, organic mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and estrogens in a water supply. Many of these substances are still the subject of ongoing research.
  • Smoking: Smokers have been shown to have diminished fertility compared to non-smokers. Smoking may adversely affect the sperm's movement, as well as the health of the sperm.
  • Time of day: Sperm counts are higher in the morning.
  • Excessive ejaculation and prolonged abstinence: Both are known to affect the number and quality of sperm. Intercourse every two to three days helps ensure optimal sperm count and health.
  • Diet: A healthy balanced diet (fruits and vegetables more than processed foods) is important. Foods rich in antioxidants (such as L-carnitine and lycopene) may promote optimal sperm health.
  • Supplements: Antioxidants (such as L-carnitine), folic acid, selenium, and zinc sulfate have been shown in some studies to improve sperm counts and sperm function.

Seek Advice

If you are concerned about your fertility and think your sperm may not be fit and healthy, contact your healthcare provider. Some simple tests on your semen and bloodwork (including hormone levels such as testosterone) and a look at your general fitness could provide some answers.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Reynaud K, Schuss Z, Rouach N, Holcman D. Why so many sperm cells?. Commun Integr Biol. 2015;8(3). doi:10.1080/19420889.2015.1017156

  2. Durairajanayagam D. Lifestyle causes of male infertility. Arab J Urol. 2018;16(1):10-20. doi:10.1016/j.aju.2017.12.004

Additional Reading

By Jerry Kennard
 Jerry Kennard, PhD, is a psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.