Diet and nutrition are essential factors in getting your body ready for making a baby, but what male partners consume in the months before conception matters significantly, too.
Fertility foods aren’t just for women there are certain foods that increase sperm count and quality, along with other foods men should aim to avoid when they’re trying to conceive.
In fact, men are found to contribute to almost 50% of all cases of infertility. While there are a number of factors that can impact male fertility, sperm quality and quantity are two of the biggest.
A man is considered to have a low sperm count if he has fewer than 39 million sperm per ejaculation. It still sounds like a lot, but considering how far sperm have to travel, it’s not that many.
The point? It’s important for men who are trying to conceive to evaluate their diet so it won’t interfere with their chances of conceiving.
It’s also good to know that any dietary changes should be put in place at least three months in advance of your ideal conception date, as it takes three months for sperm to reach maturation.
Be sure to discuss any fertility concerns with your doctor, but looking at what’s on both partners’ plates can contribute to overall sexual health and fertility.
Fertility-promoting foods that male partners should add to their diets when trying to conceive
1. Oysters & pumpkin seeds
Both oysters (and other forms of shellfish) and pumpkin seeds are naturally very high in zinc, which is one of the best minerals for male fertility—and sexual reproductive health in general. Zinc is involved in boosting testosterone levels, as well as improving sperm motility and sperm count.
Zinc is essential for sperm function and is known as a hormone balancer, while also protecting against heavy metals and cigarette toxins. Oysters are also heralded as an aphrodisiac (so maybe a dinner out for oysters are in order?).
One kiwi contains almost the full daily recommended value of vitamin C for men. Studies have shown oral supplementation of vitamin C improves sperm motility, count and morphology. Other foods that contain vitamin C include red peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
3. Dark green, leafy vegetables
Folate (also known as the food form of vitamin B9, or folic acid), which is found in abundance in spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts and asparagus, can help produce strong, healthy sperm.
4. Dark chocolate
Swap any milk chocolate for the dark variety, which contains arginine, an amino acid. Supplementation of arginine may improve sperm count and quality over time.
5. Salmon & sardines
The omega-3 fatty acids found in high amounts in fish—especially salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring and sardines—may help improve the quality and quantity of sperm. For a vegan/plant-based option, try adding chia seeds and ground flaxseeds to smoothies or sprinkled on plant-based yogurt.
6. Brazil nuts
The selenium found in Brazil nuts may help increase sperm motility, especially when combined with vitamin E. Selenium is a trace mineral that’s often lacking in Americans’ diets, so supplementation may be helpful.
Staying hydrated is crucial for optimal health, and water also helps create healthy seminal fluid.
8. Maca root
Maca root is a Peruvian medicinal herb that has a very long history of use in traditional medicine as a libido booster and may improve semen quality. It’s technically a powdered root vegetable that tastes a bit nutty. Sprinkle it on oatmeal or use it in smoothies.