Now, let’s define the elements of healthy sperm:
- Quantity (volume). A healthy sperm count is about 15 million or more for every milliliter (mL) of semen. The more you have, the more likely one of them will make it through the female reproductive system to an egg.
- Movement (motility). Not every sperm moves effectively or even at all, but this is normal. Only about 40 percent or more of them need to be movin’ and groovin’ for you to be fertile.
- Shape (morphology). Healthy sperm have rounded heads and long, strong tails. Shapely sperm are more likely to make it to an egg.
You have control over several things that shape how healthy your sperm is. Here’s what you can do to make those sperm work for you both now and later.
1. Eat well
You are what you eat — and so are your sperm. There are both
- Vitamin B-12. This potent vitamin is found in meat, fish, and dairy. It has all sorts of
positive effectsthroughout your body. Among other things, vitamin B-12 protects your sperm from inflammation and oxidative stress caused by harmful free radicals in your body.
- Vitamin C. Eating more oranges, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, and spinach can all contribute to a higher sperm count. In some cases, it can even double it after a couple months.
- Nuts. Nuts have long been associated with benefitting sexual health, and the evidence keeps piling on. A 2018 study of 119 men found that a diet high in almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts over a 14-week period increased sperm count by up to 16 percent.
- Lycopene. Lycopene gives foods like tomatoes and watermelons their rich red color. It can reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body, too. ROS can damage DNA and hurt sperm. Taking 4 to 8 milligrams (mg) of lycopene a day was
foundto improve sperm count and motility.
2. Exercise regularly, but don’t overdo it
Even light exercise can increase sperm quantity, movement, and shape. A 2005 study found that the combination of low activity and high body mass index (BMI) contributed directly to poor semen quality. Being overweight or obese can affect
3. Boxers or briefs?
Let’s get right to the point: Your underwear is probably fine, no matter your preference. A
4. Think before you drink alcohol or caffeine
- 40 ounces of beer
- 25 ounces of wine
- 7.5 ounces of spirits
5. Take a supplement
If you’re trying to boost your sperm quality, you can get several important vitamins and minerals through the foods you eat. You also could consider popping a daily supplement to make conceiving a little easier.
Keep in mind the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the quality or purity of supplements like they do for drugs. Talk to your doctor about the right dosage for you. They can also make sure the supplement won’t interfere with any medications you’re currently taking.
6. Avoid certain chemicals and products
Hormone-disrupting chemicals could be lurking in your workplace, in the air, and maybe even in your personal care products. They’re chemicals known as reproductive hazards. The Centers for Disease Control keeps a
- lead: found in pipes, paint, soil, and dust, especially in or near old homes
- styrene and acetone: plastic found in plastic dishes, packaging, insulation, and common construction materials
- mercury vapor: found in industrial aerosols and metal dust
- dibromochloropropane: found in some pesticides and research facilities
Most of these chemicals are found in high concentrations in factories or other heavy industrial workplaces. But some are right in your home or are ingredients in soaps, bodywashes, and plastic containers. The state of California even passed a law, Proposition 65, requiring manufacturers to warn consumers if any ingredients used in their products have been linked to cancer. Check out the latest list here. What can you do?
- Read the ingredients before you buy any product, consumable or otherwise.
- Replace any products that contain these chemicals with natural products.
- Try to replace your plastic items with alternatives, such as glass, stainless steel, silicone, or even
Tim Jewell is a writer, editor, and linguist based in Chino Hills, CA. His work has appeared in publications by many leading health and media companies, including Healthline and The Walt Disney Company.