From Forest to Fertility: How Nature Could Improve Sperm Health

Man outside in nature for fertility improvements

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Enjoying the great outdoors is known to have a bunch of benefits for our physical and mental well-being. But did you know that spending time in nature could potentially help your fertility? Here we’ll break down the potential reasons your swimmers might prefer the countryside to the city.

Can time in nature really help your fertility?

Potentially! In a 2021 study, researchers explored the correlation between the amount of greenery men were surrounded by in their local area (residential green spaces) and sperm quality. The Chinese study analyzed over 9,000 participants and the results were pretty interesting. They found a significant correlation between exposure to ‘residential greenness’ and an increase in sperm count, volume and overall sperm health.

Why is time in nature good for sperm?

Whilst we still need a lot more research into the impact of nature on sperm quality, there could be a few reasons why it seems to have a positive effect on our fertility.

Exercise and Weight

We’ve written a lot about the best exercise for male fertility and the importance of maintaining a healthy weight if you are trying for a baby. Whilst many people can exercise without venturing into nature, there does seem to be some correlation between people that love the great outdoors and those who have a healthy BMI. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that participants who spent time in green spaces were more likely to be physically active and better at keeping within a healthy weight range. Men who are overweight or obese are more likely to encounter sperm health problems – so this could potentially explain the connection!

Clean Air

City living might come with great options on Deliveroo – but it also comes with a lot of air pollution. Polluted air is not only bad news for our lung capacity but it can also harm our sperm health too. A study of thousands of couples in China found that those living with higher levels of small-particle pollution were 20% more likely to face infertility – which this study defined as not becoming pregnant within a year of trying.

Whilst this particular study did not discover exactly how air pollution impacted fertility – it could well be down to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. EDCs are chemicals that can be found in plastics, fragrances, domestic cleaning products – and in some cases air pollution. These chemicals work by mimicking the hormones in your body and attaching themselves to your receptors. This can confuse the body into thinking you have hormones that aren’t really there – which can lead to imbalances and underproduction. If the hormones in question are sex hormones – like testosterone or estrogen – then this can play havoc with your sperm health.

Reduced Stress

There are plenty of studies that support the idea that spending time in nature reduces our stress levels and supports our mental well-being. Whilst the link between stress and fertility needs to be explored further, we know that when the body is under stress it deprioritizes what it deems ‘unnecessary functions’ like reproduction. The rush of cortisol caused by stress can also play havoc with our hormonal balance, which can undoubtedly impact our fertility. In a Danish study from 2016 with 1,215 male participants, the results showed that high self-reported stress is associated with lower semen volume, total sperm count, and sperm concentration, as well as a lower number healthy looking sperm cells. Men with the highest stress scores showed to have the most affected parameters. If spending time in nature can help us have lower stress levels, it makes sense that it could help us on our fertility journey too.

Less Time Around Tech

Whilst remote working might be commonplace nowadays if you’re hiking up a mountain or strolling through the forest, the chances are you’ve left your laptop at home. Modern technology has a sneaky way of impacting your swimmers and it’s all to do with heat. Our phones and laptops kick out quite a bit of heat and when you think about where they usually are (phone in your pocket, laptop on your lap) you’ll realize how much they could be warming up your scrotum.

When sperm cells are exposed to constant heat they become damaged. This can not only kill off some of your perm cells, so that your count is low, but it can also leave some alive but pretty broken, which can be when you see issues with low motility or abnormal morphology. This damage can also harm the genetic content of the sperm cell – this is known as DNA Fragmentation. All of this damage makes it harder for the sperm cells to travel to and fertilize the egg – and even if fertilization happens, it may not result in a healthy pregnancy. The obvious ways to avoid heat damage are to avoid things like saunas and hot tubs – but taking time away from your tech gadgets and getting out in nature is another good one!

Increased Vitamin D

The more time you spend outside, the more sunlight you are exposed to and that means more chance of topping up your Vitamin D levels. A 2016 study found a link between vitamin D deficiency and low sperm motility, so it’s a good idea to get that Vitamin D whenever you can.

In the Northern Hemisphere, we rarely get enough sunlight to keep Vitamin D at an optimum level- but getting outside in the morning in the middle of the day – or as much as possible really! – can help to give you a boost. Vitamin D supplementation is another way to help ensure your levels are where they should be – and studies have shown that this supplementation can have a good effect on sperm quality. Exposure to sunlight can help reduce stress levels and improve your sleep pattern which can all be helpful for your fertility.

Whilst we still need more research to cement the connection between the great outdoors and sperm health – it’s clear that going for a hike, a wild swim or a simple walk around your local park isn’t going to do any harm to your fertility – and will be good news for physical and mental health!

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.