Men's health

8 Tips for Healthy Sperm

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Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry
Chief Medical Officer
iconLast updated 4th May 2021
In 30 seconds…

Healthy sperm isn’t just a numbers game. Although it’s important to have enough sperm cells in your semen in order to achieve conception, there are certain other factors that define sperm health.

The shape of the sperm cells, the way they move, and the volume of semen produced – all these are important for your fertility.

So, how do you get healthy sperm? A great place to start is your lifestyle: think about what you can do in your everyday life to boost your health and wellbeing. What’s good for you is good for your sperm.

If you and your partner are hoping to welcome a bouncing bundle of joy into the world, you and your sperm have got an important part to play. For conception to take place, one of your sperm cells needs to hit the target and fertilise that egg – and to do that they must be strong and healthy.

In this article, we share our 8 top tips for healthy sperm. These are simple changes you can make to your lifestyle in order to give those swimmers the best chance of fulfilling their mission.

But first, what does healthy sperm look like?

How Do You Measure Healthy Sperm?

When a semen sample is analysed, the analyst will look for a number of different factors to determine the level of healthy sperm that are present. These are:

Sperm Count/Concentration: The number of sperm cells per millilitre of semen should be at least 15 million.

Sperm Morphology: Your sperm cells need to be the right size and shape to suggest they are healthy.

Sperm Motility: In order to reach the woman’s egg (or ovum) the sperm must be able to swim well.

Semen Volume: You need enough semen (the liquid that contains the sperm, which is produced when you ejaculate) to carry the sperm cells through the woman’s reproductive tract.

If you want to your body to make plenty of strong sperm, try following these 8 tips for a healthy lifestyle:

1. Stay Active

Regular exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on your testosterone levels, essential for sperm production, and on semen quality.

Interestingly, moderate exercise seems to be better for healthy sperm than high-intensity exercise, according to one study. And the type of exercise can have an effect on sperm too: for example, cycling for 5 or more hours per week has been associated with low sperm concentration and low total sperm motility.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet

A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruit and veg is essential for good health – including sperm health! Certain micronutrients that feature antioxidant properties seem particularly effective at protecting the sperm cells against damage. These include vitamins C and E, B-complex vitamins (especially folate and B12), and zinc.

A diet that includes whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses, green leafy veg and citrus fruits, oily fish, and a certain amount of lean meat and low-fat dairy products should provide you with the right nutrients for healthy sperm. But you can always take a supplement for an extra health boost.

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3. Lose Weight

Being severely overweight or obese can have a negative effect on sperm. A study looking at the impact of obesity on male fertility found that the condition can actually alter the structure of the germ cells (the cells that make the sperm) in your testes and reduce the quality of the sperm that’s produced.

However, if you follow tips 1 and 2 above then you’ll be maximising your chances of achieving a healthy weight and healthy sperm too.

4. Cut Down on Alcohol

Being sensible about the amount of alcohol you drink and giving yourself a couple of alcohol-free days a week is known to be beneficial for your health, and it may have a positive impact on your fertility as well. According to some research, alcohol consumption is associated with low-quality sperm – but the effects may be reversible if you cut down.

Of course, as it’s recommended that women avoid alcohol while trying to conceive, if you cut down on your own drinking that might help your partner out too!

5. Stop Smoking

Smoking tobacco regularly, as demonstrated by one study, is linked to a lower sperm concentration and a higher number of morphological defects in the sperm cells. Similarly, further research found that heavy smokers had a 19% lower sperm concentration than non-smokers.

As smoking is also associated with erectile dysfunction, kicking the habit could be necessary if you and your partner want to conceive. And there’s plenty of advice and support out there to help you stop.

6. Avoid Drugs

A number of recreational drugs are known to damage sperm quality and reduce fertility. These include:

  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates such as heroin and methadone

So it’s best to avoid using these if you’re trying to become a dad.

7. Keep Your Testicles Cool

The ideal temperature for sperm production is 34.5oC, just below the typical body temperature of 37oC – hence why your testicles hang a little apart from the rest of your body! If your testicles get too warm, this can be detrimental to your sperm levels.

There’s not much evidence to suggest that boxers are better than briefs for keeping your testicles at the right temperature, but generally keeping cool with loose-fitting clothing is a good idea. Also, if you work in a hot environment you might want to try taking regular breaks outside to cool down. If your work is sedentary, make sure you get up and move around often.

8. Reduce Stress

Stress can cause problems in your journey to conceive, as it has the potential to dampen your sex drive, contribute to erectile dysfunction, and impact your sperm. When you experience stress your body produces the hormone cortisol, which then reduces testosterone production, and this can result in fewer sperm cells being produced.

If you and your partner are struggling to conceive, it’s natural to feel stress and anxiety over whether you’ll be able to have a baby. But trying some stress-busting techniques could really help your body create the healthy sperm you need. Spending time outside in nature, getting enough sleep, meditating, or speaking to a counsellor may allow you to feel more relaxed and improve your sense of wellbeing.

Key Takeaways

A healthy lifestyle will help your body produce strong, healthy sperm and maximise your chances of conceiving. Moderate exercise and a nutrient-rich diet, cutting down on alcohol and smoking, and reducing stress; these are simple changes to make to your day-to-day life, but they could make a significant difference to your fertility.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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