Male Fertility

Male infertility is a disease of the reproductive system in the male defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy.

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The inability of a couple to achieve a clinical pregnancy may be due to a problem in the female, male, or both. In males, the problem is most often subfertility related to low sperm counts or abnormal sperm structure, as opposed to complete infertility. It is difficult to know exactly how many males have subfertility or infertility, as many infertility problems with couples are not discovered, and often the primary cause is in the female. Outside of obvious genetic or abnormal anatomical conditions or permanent injuries causing low sperm counts (or no sperm) in some males, other males with subfertility have the ability to boost the sperm count and health of the sperm in order to increase the chance of pregnancy with changes in lifestyle habits. Some of the factors that can negatively affect sperm and male fertility are:

  • Infections (sexually transmitted)
  • Diets low in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits
  • High saturated fat intake (particularly from meats, cheese, butter, etc.)
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle/lack of exercise
  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Excessive heat to scrotum (hot tubs, tight undergarments, prolonged biking, etc.)
  • Alcohol use
  • Certain medications (anabolic steroids, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-androgen drugs, etc.)
  • Chemical exposures (pesticides, herbicides, etc.)
  • Excessive intake of sweeteners (sugar, etc.) and sweetened beverages (sodas, etc.)

It is generally insufficiently recognized that diet can be responsible for sperm problems. Sperm need certain nutrients to be built correctly (without DNA damage) and to even be produced in the high amounts required. So, eating a diet rich in vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, and fruit via a Nutritarian eating style is one of the first steps to take towards healthy sperm. Many couples have reported resolution of their fertility difficulties through a Nutritarian diet.


Action Plan


  • A Nutritarian diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts provides certain nutrients that are needed for healthy sperm development, such as:
    • vitamin C
    • vitamin E
    • zinc
    • folate
    • alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid)
    • other antioxidants
  • Reduce saturated fat intake by dramatically reducing animal product intake in general but particularly processed meats, cheese, and spreads
  • Stop eating sugar and other concentrated sweeteners, as well as sweetened beverages, such as sodas
  • Supplementing with a little extra zinc from a multivitamin will also help maintain normal levels

Other Considerations

  • Reduce stress
  • Exercise regularly
  • Lose weight via dietary changes primarily (see Diet)
  • Stop using tobacco and alcohol

Find additional help

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Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


What can I do to better my diet in order to improve my fertility?


Certain micronutrients are thought to contribute to male reproductive fitness. Oxidative stress can damage sperm. Higher blood antioxidant capacity, carotenoids, and vitamins C and E have been associated with higher sperm count and motility. Adequate folate, abundant in green vegetables, may also promote fertility by preventing DNA damage in sperm. In contrast, higher saturated fat consumption, cheese specifically, have been linked to lower semen quality. Adequate omega-3 fatty acids may also contribute to semen quality.

Couples who plan on becoming pregnant should follow a healthful, high-nutrient diet not only to better their chances of conceiving, but also to protect the future health of their children. Children’s health is influenced by their parents’ diets even before conception.

Maintaining a healthy weight and minimizing exposure to agricultural pesticides and endocrine disrupting chemicals (such as BPA and phthalates) are additional factors that can help to maintain favorable semen quality.


My wife and I have been trying to conceive for quite some time now without success. In the last check-up we did, we were both within normal range on all things.

My wife was advised to take Co-Q10 and DHEA. What is your view on these supplements? What supplements do you recommend for couples trying to conceive (For men as well as for women)?


We would not recommend DHEA but CoQ10 is fine. DHEA is a steroid hormone that should only be prescribed in a deficiency or autoimmune illness. Your body makes plenty of CoQ10 on a Nutritarian diet, and though it is not dangerous to take, it is likely a waste of money. A Nutritarian diet, with adequate intake of G-BOMBS will foster fertility. Your wife should take my Gentle Prenatal Vitamin and DHA/EPA Purity. You should take my Men’s Daily Formula and DHA/EPA Purity.