Ways to Increase Male Fertility

4 Simple Ways to Increase Male Fertility

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Fertility, Preconception & Fertility Leave a Comment

Fertility struggles are not just a woman’s issue. New research suggests that up to 50% of infertility cases may be due to male factor issues, which is higher than previously thought. 

In fact, male fertility rates have plummeted over the last decades, with average global sperm counts declining by 62% since the 1970s.

Acknowledging and understanding the role that male fertility plays in conception and pregnancy takes some of the pressure off women and empowers men to change the lifestyle factors that they can control. It also helps us see fertility as a global and environmental issue instead of just a personal one. 

This article will walk you through steps you can take (or have your partner take) to improve fertility. And if you aren’t planning a pregnancy anytime soon, keep in mind that fertility is a marker of health for both men and women. 

What Causes Male Infertility? 

Infertility is a medical diagnosis defined by 12 months of unprotected sex without pregnancy. If a woman is over 35 years old, six months of trying to conceive without success should alert your provider to investigate female and male infertility causes.

Current infertility rates are around 9% globally, with male factors contributing to about half of those cases. 

Of note, there is so much that you can do before you hit the 6- or 12-month mark, as the preconception time influences fertility, pregnancy, and the future health of the offspring. 

Male factor infertility has to do with sperm quality. A semen analysis will look at three factors: 

  1. Sperm count – how many sperm there are, sperm concentration 
  2. Sperm motility – how the sperm move (i.e., can they move toward the egg)
  3. Sperm morphology – are the sperm appropriately formed in the right shape

If a semen analysis shows issues in any of these categories, there are several possible reasons as to what causes male infertility.

How to Increase Male Fertility

Hormone Imbalance

A hormone imbalance in the brain, including a change in FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) or LH (luteinizing hormone), could impact testosterone levels and hormone balance required for healthy sperm production. These are the same hormones that stimulate egg development in women’s ovaries.

While it’s easy to think that giving a man testosterone will help with fertility and hormone balance, testosterone replacement/supplementation inhibits sperm production in the testicles. Discontinuing the use of exogenous testosterone if someone is taking it will improve fertility, but it can take up to a year for normal sperm production to return. 

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between destructive free radical compounds and protective antioxidants. Sperm, like the egg, are highly vulnerable to oxidative stress. 

Oxidative stress reduces sperm motility and damages the DNA in sperm, which increases the risk of recurrent miscarriage and genetic disease.  One study found increased free radicals and DNA damage in the sperm of men whose partners experienced miscarriage

Contributors to oxidative stress include:

  • Inflammation — from an inflammatory diet, infections, or metabolic dysfunction like high blood sugar
  • Diet low in antioxidants — antioxidants are found in fruits, vegetables, spices, and other plant foods
  • Environmental toxins — found in the air, water, food, consumer goods, and smoking

Environmental toxins are a huge concern when it comes to their impact on fertility. Not only do toxins create oxidative stress impacting sperm (and egg) quality, but chemicals transport into the uterus via semen

Psychological Stress

We know physical stressors like inflammation and oxidative stress damage sperm, and psychological stress also impacts fertility. 

A significant stress for couples experiencing infertility is infertility itself. Those struggling to conceive may experience anxiety, depression, and isolation, affecting their quality of life. Mental health challenges may be worse for couples undergoing assisted reproductive treatment, such as IVF. 

Other sources of stress besides health challenges may be finances, relationships, work, the death of a loved one, and other life stresses. 

However, research shows that interventions like therapy that work to reduce stress help to increase pregnancy rates. Much of this research tends to focus on women, but stress management is a tool shown to increase male fertility. 

Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle factors influence fertility and sperm health. Low sperm counts correlate with poor general health. Men with low sperm counts are more likely to experience:

  • Increased body fat
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lower HDL cholesterol
  • Increased risk for metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes
  • Hypogonadism and low testosterone levels
  • Low bone mass or osteoporosis 

Metabolic symptoms and disease are primarily related to lifestyle factors, including diet, sleep habits, stress management, exercise, and toxin exposure. The good news is that these factors are modifiable; you improve your metabolic health and fertility by improving your lifestyle. 

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

We will get into healthy lifestyle tips shortly, but addressing overall health is important prior to conception. 

Many might not make lifestyle changes until infertility is an issue or as a last resort when other interventions have failed. However, I recommend implementing diet and lifestyle tools as a first resort before trying to conceive. If your body is in optimal health, it will optimize sperm health and increase the chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy. 

How To Increase Male Fertility Naturally

A healthy lifestyle is the foundation for fertility. Let’s explore my top tips to increase male fertility naturally. 

Reduce Stress

It’s essential to focus on reducing psychological and oxidative stress, as both impact fertility. 

Many tools exist for reducing psychological stress. It’s important to find what works for you and create a regular practice. Tools include:

  • Therapy
  • Acupuncture, massage, and bodywork
  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Spending time in nature 
  • Unplugging from technology 
  • Yoga and tai chi 
  • And more

Reduce Oxidative Stress

We want to both reduce and combat oxidative stress with antioxidants (more on that soon). 

Endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs are recognized as significant contributors to fertility issues. In fact, they can have a negative effect on semen quality

To reduce oxidative stress, focus on lowering toxin exposures that you can control. Here are some helpful strategies in the home:

  • Choose organic foods
  • Filter drinking and cooking water
  • Filter indoor air and open the windows when outdoor air quality is good
  • Dust and vacuum frequently
  • Choose non-toxic cleaning and personal care products

You can explore this article on endocrine disruptors for more information on where they are found and how to avoid them.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

The food you eat provides the nutrients needed to build sperm and support hormonal and metabolic health. The right foods provide antioxidants that help protect sperm from free radical damage. In addition, food shapes the microbiome, helps eliminate toxins from the body, and influences nutrient absorption. 

A healthy diet is critical for fertility. I recommend the following:

  • At least five servings of produce each day and increase from there. Be sure to include at least 3 to 4 servings of vegetables. If you can hit 7-9, that’s even better.
  • Increase other plant foods, including legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices for additional antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients. 
  • Choose healthy fats including nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut, avocado, and cold water fish. 
  • Zinc is vital for sperm production. Good sources include shellfish, pumpkin seeds, eggs, and grass-fed meat. 
  • Reduce or eliminate processed foods, including those with added sugar and choose whole foods most of the time. 
  • Stay hydrated by drinking enough water, including electrolytes, and decreasing alcohol and caffeine. 

Diet Plans for Men

My hormone balancing starter kit is a perfect antioxidant loaded diet plan for men and women to support fertility and hormonal health. 

Sperm responds quickly to changes in diet. One of the fastest ways to improve sperm motility is by upgrading the nutrient density of the diet. 

Get Regular Exercise

There are many benefits of exercise, including improved fertility. Exercise releases endorphins, stimulates a healthy libido, and supports detoxification. Strength training, specifically, helps optimize testosterone levels. 

Aim to engage in strength training exercise 5-6 days per week. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most effective ways to shift metabolic health. And the good news is you only need to do it for about 15 minutes most days to get results.

Note that too much exercise can decrease testosterone levels, so more isn’t better. It’s important to find what works best for your body and make it a part of your daily or weekly routine. 

Does Heat Affect Sperm?

You might have heard that temperature affects sperm, and the rumors are true—there is a connection between heat and sperm. Excess heat can damage sperm, so avoid hot tubs, holding your laptop on your lap, and tight workout clothes while trying to conceive. 

Quit Smoking

If you quit smoking, you’ll improve sperm quality. This recommendation goes for both cigarettes and marijuana, which are both a source of oxidative stress and can damage the DNA in sperm. While we are on the topic, I recommend reducing or eliminating alcohol for the same reasons. 

Does Smoking Lower Sperm Count?

Yes, smoking can lower sperm count. Smoking influences many aspects of male fertility, including sperm quality, conception, and pregnancy outcomes.  

Best Supplements For Male Fertility

Fertility supplements are studied in women more often compared to men; however, data suggests supporting antioxidant status is critical. 

These are the supplements I often suggest to men when they are trying to conceive and what I have my husband taking. Note that these recommendations are similar to what I recommend for women. 

Let’s look at a few of these supplements to increase male fertility in more detail. Please work with your healthcare provider to personalize your supplement protocol. 

Vitamin C

We often think of vitamin C in terms of immune health, but it’s an important antioxidant that plays a role in sperm health as well. In addition, vitamin C supports a healthy stress response and adrenal health. 

For fertility and to increase antioxidant capacity, I suggest 2,000 to 4,000 mg of vitamin C daily in divided doses. Vitamin C can cause loose stools, so you’ll want to build up slowly and be sure to take multiple doses throughout the day instead of one large dose. Your bathroom patterns will tell you whether or not you need to scale back your dose. 

Rhodiola and Ashwagandha

Rhodiola and ashwagandha are both adaptogenic herbs that support the body’s adaptation to stress. Since your fertility journey can increase stress, it’s an excellent time to nourish the adrenals and include regular adaptogens. 

Rhodiola is one of my favorite adaptogens because it has many health benefits and applications, including fertility support. Animal studies suggest that rhodiola has antioxidant capacity and protects sperm. 

The Optimal Adrenal Kit includes comprehensive stress support, including rhodiola, ashwagandha, vitamin C, B vitamins, and more. The Adrenal Kit is appropriate for both men and women while trying to conceive, but women will want to discontinue use following ovulation when they are actively trying. The Adrenal Support and Adrenal Calm are not recommended during pregnancy. 

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

NAC, N-Acetyl Cysteine, is an amino acid precursor to the body’s master antioxidant called glutathione. NAC is used to support both male and female and has a high safety profile. NAC may help to increase sperm count and motility

I suggest N-Acetyl Cysteine at a dose of 900mg once or twice per day. 

You can learn more about the Dr. Brighten N-Acetyl Cysteine here.

Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids, specifically the omega-3s EPA and DHA, are also on my list for male infertility supplements. Research suggests EPA and DHA may be a supportive way to increase sperm health and pregnancy outcomes

While omega-3s have many health benefits, it may be challenging to get enough through diet alone. I formulated Omega Plus with a therapeutic dose in mind. I suggest 1500 to 3000mg of EPA + DHA per day for fertility support. 


Male fertility rates are decreasing, mainly in response to lifestyle and environmental factors. However, there are many things we can do in our daily life to improve sperm health, chances of conception, and healthy pregnancy rates. 

It comes back to a healthy lifestyle and eating nutritious food, exercising, reducing stress, and decreasing exposure to environmental toxins within our control. In addition, targeted supplements like NAC and vitamin C help protect vulnerable sperm cells and improve fertility. 

Remember, anytime a couple is struggling, both individuals should be screened for any health issues and both be making necessary diet and lifestyle changes to improve their outcomes.

The free meal plan and recipe guide I have for you here can help you on your journey.

Get Your FREE Hormone Starter Kit with

7 Day Meal Plan & Recipe Guide

This starter pack is exactly what every woman needs to bring her hormones back into balance!

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.