If you’re hoping to try for a baby, you might be worried about the possibility of having a low sperm count. Find out how your sperm count could be increased
Trying for a baby? Consider boosting your sperm count first, as low sperm count is currently a problem in the UK. A 2017 meta-analysis of studies, published in Human Reproduction Update, found the average sperm count among men in Western countries has dropped by more than 50% in 40 years.1
Why is the sperm count dropping?
Research into exactly what’s causing the decline is still ongoing.2 But it’s known that sperm count is affected by a range of triggers3,4 including:
- hormonal imbalance
- exposure to radiation or industrial chemicals like pesticides
- recreational drugs
- too much alcohol
- being overweight
What can help increase sperm count?
There are plenty of ways you can help encourage sperm numbers naturally. Try these tips:
1. Tuck into nuts…
Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, selenium and zinc, plus folate – all thought to help sperm count.5
A 2018 meta-analysis, published in European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, found a rise in sperm count and quality among fertile men who ate a 60g mix of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts every day, alongside their normal diet.6
2. …especially Brazil nuts
These nuts are a particularly rich source of selenium7. Canadian researchers discovered that low selenium levels are linked to low male fertility, while higher levels could improve reproduction rates.8
Just two Brazil nuts a day can provide all the selenium you need (55mcg)9 but don’t overdo it.10
3. Avoid hot baths
Wallowing in hot water isn’t good for your sperm count. A 2007 study by the University of California investigated 11 infertile men, who spent at least 30 minutes immersed in hot baths, Jacuzzis or hot tubs each week. They found that a tub-free routine improved their sperm counts by nearly 500%.11,12
4. Go easy on soy foods
Soy foods like tofu and soya milk contain plant oestrogens called phytoestrogens. In humans, they have a similar effect to the female hormone oestrogen, so it’s thought they may interfere with sperm production.13
A 2008 study carried out by Harvard School of Public Health reported that a diet rich in soya foods or drinks was linked to a lower sperm count,14 so cut down your intake if you’re concerned.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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1. Levine H, et al. Temporal trends in sperm count: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article-abstract/23/6/646/4035689?redirectedFrom=fulltext
2. The Guardian. Sperm counts among western men have halved in last 40 years – study. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/25/sperm-counts-among-western-men-have-halved-in-last-40-years-study
3. Mayo Clinic. Low sperm count. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sperm-count/symptoms-causes/syc-20374585
4. As above
5. Science Daily. A diet rich in nuts improves sperm count and motility. Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180704112048.htm
6. As above
7. Thomson CD, et al. Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18258628
8. Bleau G, et al. Semen selenium and human fertility. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6500080
9. Medical News Today. Selenium: What it does and how much you need. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287842.php
10. As above
11. Shefi S, et al. Wet heat exposure: a potentially reversible cause of low semen quality in infertile men. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17335598
12. BBC News. Hot baths may cut male fertility. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6418771.stm
13. Lund University. Estrogens and phytoestrogens in male infertility. Available from: http://portal.research.lu.se/ws/files/1926597/2835049.pdf
14. Chavarro JE, et al. Soy food and isoflavone intake in relation to semen quality parameters among men from an infertility clinic. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18650557