When it comes to fertility advice, it’s hard to know what – or who – to trust. There is still a serious lack of research into male fertility, and so much we have to learn. However, there are some great studies out there that indicate the lifestyle changes that can really make a difference when it comes to sperm health – so we’ve rounded up how to improve sperm here.
Get enough sleep
Good quality sleep is essential for our overall health, and it’s really important for our fertility. In 2020 a Danish study found that guys who get 8 hours of sleep a night were almost 3 times more likely to have healthy sperm compared to men who got less than 7. However, it also found that too much sleep could have a negative impact on sperm quality – so 8 hours a night really is the sweet spot. The study also indicated an earlier bedtime (before 10.30pm) was better for your swimmers!
Read more about the impact of sleep on sperm health here.
Be careful of caffeine
When it comes to caffeine, you don’t have to cut it out completely – but it is worth thinking about where it comes from. A 2016 study found that energy drinks have a negative effect on sperm parameters including count and motility. A smaller 2010 study found that drinking Coke specifically (which is full of caffeine!) was also not great for fertility. For these drinks, the caffeine is partly the problem, but it’s also because they are full of sugar. The science indicates consuming less than 800mg of caffeine a day shouldn’t have a massive impact on your sperm health – so a couple of coffees is fine – but we’d recommend giving energy drinks a miss.
Learn more about caffeine and male fertility here.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your fertility. There’s lots of research into the negative impact smoking has on sperm health. One study saw a decrease in sperm counts by 17.5% and in total motile sperm cells by 16.6% when they compared smokers to non-smokers. Another study that tracked over 2.000 men for 12 years, found that smokers had lower sperm quality and count than the men that didn’t smoke.
Learn more about the importance of quitting smoking if you’re trying to conceive here.
Maintain a healthy weight
BMI is sometimes seen as a controversial subject, but it’s hard to deny the research that links being overweight to poor sperm quality. Research has found that overweight and obese men are more likely to have low sperm concentrations and low total motile sperm count compared to men with normal weight. However, science also tells us that there is a risk of poor sperm quality if you are underweight – so maintaining a healthy BMI is the best route if you want to protect or improve your fertility.
Learn more about how to lose weight healthily through exercise here.
It can be hard to stay calm on a fertility journey, but stress is definitely something you want to avoid if you’re trying to protect your sperm health. In a Danish study from 2016, the results showed that high self-reported stress was associated with lower semen volume, total sperm count, and sperm concentration. This impact seemed to increase with an increase in stress levels!
It’s not just sustained stress that can negatively affect your fertility. In another study where life events were evaluated, the researchers found that men who experienced two or more stressful life events within 12 months of each other had a lower percentage of sperm motility and a smaller percentage of sperm of normal morphology, compared with men who did not experience any stressful life events.
Learn more about stress and male fertility here.
Eat more nuts
Eating nuts for your nuts might sound like a snappy marketing strapline, but there’s quite a bit of scientific evidence to support the idea! In a 2018 study, men who were given 60g a day of nuts alongside a healthy diet showed significantly higher sperm quality compared to those who had no nuts. A 2019 study which tested the impact of walnuts on male fertility saw increases in count and motility in men that added walnuts to their daily diet. However, it’s important to remember that eating nuts alone won’t improve your sperm health – but they should be part of a healthy, balanced diet – the Mediterranean diet is thought to be the best one for fertility.
Learn more about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on male fertility here.
Eat less sugar
More research that will impact the way you think about food, is the studies that have been done on the connection between sugar and sperm health. A scientific review from 2017 found that men who had a sugar-rich diet were more likely to have low sperm motility, with simThis link was supported by a 2014 study that examined the link between sugar and sperm motility, whilst another study found that men who drank high levels of sugar-sweetened drinks were more likely to have issues with sperm count.
Read more about the impact of sugar on your sperm health here.