7 tips on how to make sperm stronger for pregnancy
LAST UPDATED: May 25, 2022
4 MIN READ
HERE'S WHAT WE'LL COVER
Fertility is a complex matter, and there’s no single factor that guarantees you’ll conceive. It depends on many things, among them sperm quality.
If you’re looking for ways to up the chances of conception, here are some strategies for how to make sperm stronger for pregnancy.
How to make sperm thicker and stronger
Let’s start with some terminology: the whitish fluid you see after ejaculation is semen. In semen is sperm, tiny tailed cells that meet an egg during conception. Every sperm has three main parts: a head, neck, and tail. Each part also has an average size and shape. You can’t make sperm thicker, but you can make it healthier and “stronger.”
If thicker semen is what you’re after, this is something you probably can’t control as the viscosity (or thickness) of semen is determined during production. While thicker semen might seem like a good thing, semen that’s too thick is actually a problem (more on that later).
When it comes to getting stronger sperm, there are some things you can do. Healthier sperm means stronger swimmers that are more likely to reach an egg to fertilize it. Here are seven ways you can support sperm health and boost semen quality.
1. Stop smoking
Cigarettes and secondhand tobacco smoke exposure are known to affect fertility. Smoking can harm the reproductive system and damage sperm DNA. Quitting cigarettes may improve semen volume and sperm count (Sharma, 2016; Mohamad Al-Ali, 2017).
2. Stay physically active
There are many benefits of exercise that can boost your physical, mental, and even sexual health. Keeping active on a regular basis can lead to a higher sperm count and improve their ability to swim forward (Gaskins, 2015).
3. Eat a healthy diet
You’ve probably heard that a nutritious, balanced diet is important for overall health. But did you know it’s also linked to semen quality and sperm health?
Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains are packed with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that may improve sperm count and help them swim better (Salas-Huetos, 2019).
4. Drink less alcohol
Alcohol consumption (especially chronic use) can negatively impact the body in all sorts of ways.
This includes male fertility factors like reduced semen volume, sperm count, and sperm shape. Studies have found that reducing alcohol intake, particularly if you’re a heavy drinker, may improve these parameters (Finelli, 2021).
5. Avoid recreational drugs
Some recreational substances like marijuana, anabolic steroids, and opioids can decrease levels of hormones like testosterone, which are crucial for sperm production and erectile function (Kulkarni, 2014).
6. Maintain a healthy weight
7. Treat underlying health conditions
While there are lots of things you can do on your own to make sperm stronger for pregnancy, sometimes a medical condition is the cause. One example is varicocele, which are enlarged veins in the scrotum that can affect fertility. Sperm quality usually improves with treatment (Fainberg, 2019).
Can supplements make sperm stronger?
Studies show that vitamin C and E supplements boosted semen quality in men experiencing infertility. This may be because vitamins and other nutrients like zinc are necessary for sperm production, though there’s no data on if these supplements increase the likelihood of pregnancy (Ahmadi, 2016; Allouche-Fitoussi, 2020).
How do you know if you have healthy sperm?
You can’t tell if sperm is healthy just by looking at your ejaculate. The best way to learn about it is through semen analysis. Traditionally, these tests were done in a clinic setting but now there are more options including sperm kits that allow you to test from home.
For any sperm test, you must provide a sample for analysis. Semen analysis measures different parameters that can tell you about your fertility including (WHO, 2010):
Semen volume: How much semen is present in a sample.
Sperm count: This is the total number of sperm in a sample. The higher your sperm count, the more likely one will fertilize an egg.
Sperm motility: This refers to how sperm move and their ability to swim. If sperm have high motility, they have a better chance of reaching an egg.
Sperm morphology: This is the shape of your sperm. If you have sperm with abnormal morphology, it can’t fuse with an egg and fertilize it.
Sperm vitality: This is the number of live sperm present. If not enough sperm are alive, they won’t be able to make the journey to the egg.
What is a normal sperm count?
However, there is a lot more to conception than just the number of sperm. For example, if you have a normal sperm count but none of the sperm are swimming forward, it’s not possible to conceive naturally.
Thick semen: is it better for pregnancy?
Thick semen might offer advantages over thin, runny semen, such as holding a higher number of sperm. Thicker semen may also have an easier time staying in the reproductive system long enough to fertilize an egg (Gurung, 2021).
That said, if the semen is too thick (hyperviscous semen) it can interfere with sperm nutrition and motility, resulting in poorer quality semen (Beigi Harchegani, 2019).
Keep in mind that semen characteristics vary from person to person, so if your ejaculate is occasionally watery or slightly thicker it isn’t cause for concern. Only a semen analysis can tell whether your sperm are healthy, so if you have questions it’s a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional.
There are many factors that influence the ability for sperm to fertilize an egg. You can support healthy semen and sperm development by taking care of your overall wellness including cutting back on smoking and drinking, getting physically active, and eating a nutritious diet.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Ahmadi, S., Bashiri, R., Ghadiri-Anari, A., et al. (2016). Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence-based review. International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine , 14 (12), 729–736. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5203687/
Allouche-Fitoussi, D. & Breitbart, H. (2020). The Role of Zinc in Male Fertility. International Journal of Molecular Sciences , 21 (20), 7796. doi:10.3390/ijms21207796. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589359/
Beigi Harchegani, A., Rahmani, H., Tahmasbpour, E., et al. (2019). Hyperviscous Semen Causes Poor Sperm Quality and Male Infertility through Induction of Oxidative Stress. Current Urology, 13 (1), 1–6. doi:10.1159/000499302. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6771048/
Boeri, L., Belladelli, F., Capogrosso, P., et al. (2021). Normal sperm parameters per se do not reliably account for fertility: A case-control study in the real-life setting. Andrologia , 53 (1). doi:10.1111/and.13861. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33125742/
Cooper, T. G., Noonan, E., von Eckardstein, S., et al. (2010). World Health Organization reference values for human semen characteristics. Human Reproduction Update, 16 (3), 231–245. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmp048. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19934213/
Fainberg, J. & Kashanian, J. A. (2019). Recent advances in understanding and managing male infertility. F1000 Research , 8. doi:10.12688/f1000research.17076.1. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6524745/
Finelli, R., Mottola, F., & Agarwal, A. (2021). Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Male Fertility Potential: A Narrative Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19( 1), 328. doi:10.3390/ijerph19010328. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8751073/
Gaskins, A. J., Mendiola, J., Afeiche, M., et al. (2015). Physical activity and television watching in relation to semen quality in young men. British Journal of Sports Medicine , 49 (4), 265–270. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091644. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3868632/
Gurung, P., Yetiskul, E., & Jialal, I. (2021). Physiology, Male Reproductive System. StatPearls . Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538429/
Håkonsen, L. B., Thulstrup, A. M., Aggerholm, A. S., et al. (2011). Does weight loss improve semen quality and reproductive hormones? Results from a cohort of severely obese men. Reproductive Health , 8,
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-8-24. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3177768/
Hassanzadeh-Taheri, M., Khalili, M. A., Hosseininejad Mohebati, A., et al. (2022). The detrimental effect of cell phone radiation on sperm biological characteristics in normozoospermic. Andrologia, 54 (1), e14257. doi:10.1111/and.14257. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34628682/
Kulkarni, M., Hayden, C., & Kayes, O. (2014). Recreational drugs and male fertility. Trends in Urology and Men’s Health, 5 (5), 19–23. Retrieved from https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/tre.414
Leslie, S. W., Siref, L. E., Soon-Sutton, T. L., et al. (2022). Male Infertility. StatPearls . Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562258/
Liu, Q., Zhou, Y., Duan, R., et al. (2017). Lower dietary n-6 : n-3 ratio and high-dose vitamin E supplementation improve sperm morphology and oxidative stress in boars. Reproduction, Fertility, and Development, 29 (5), 940–949. doi:10.1071/RD15424. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28442045/
Mohamad Al-Ali, B. & Eredics, K. (2017). Synergistic effects of cigarette smoking and varicocele on semen parameters in 715 patients. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift , 129 (13-14), 482–486. doi:10.1007/s00508-017-1199-6. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28439698/
Moslemi, M. K. & Tavanbakhsh, S. (2011). Selenium–vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. International Journal of General Medicine, 4 , 99-104. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S16275. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048346/
Perera, D. M., Katz, M., Heenbanda, S. R., & Marchant, S. (1996). Nitric oxide synthase inhibitor NG-monomethyl-L-arginine preserves sperm motility after swim-up. Fertility and Sterility, 66 (5): 830-833. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)58645-2. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8893694/
Salas-Huetos, A., James, E. R., Aston, K. I., et al. (2019). Diet and sperm quality: Nutrients, foods and dietary patterns. Reproductive Biology , 19 (3), 219–224. doi:10.1016/j.repbio.2019.07.005. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31375368/
Sharma, R., Harlev, A., Agarwal, A., et al. (2016). Cigarette Smoking and Semen Quality: A New Meta-analysis Examining the Effect of the 2010 World Health Organization Laboratory Methods for the Examination of Human Semen. European Urology, 70 (4), 635–645. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2016.04.010. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27113031/
Vaamonde, D., Da Silva-Grigoletto, M. E., García-Manso, J. M., et al. (2012). Physically active men show better semen parameters and hormone values than sedentary men. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112 (9), 3267–3273. doi:10.1007/s00421-011-2304-6. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22234399/
Wang, C. & Swerdloff, R. S. (2014). Limitations of semen analysis as a test of male fertility and anticipated needs from newer tests. Fertility and Sterility , 102 (6), 1502–1507. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.10.021. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4254491/
World Health Organization (WHO). (2010). WHO laboratory manual for the examination and processing of human semen . Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44261/9789241547789_eng.pdf;jsessionid=CF9A927CA056B87F9265193DDCD505D7?sequence=1
Yu, S., Rubin, M., Geevarughese, S., et al. (2018). Emerging technologies for home-based semen analysis. Andrology, 6 (1), 10–19. doi:10.1111/andr.12441. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745266/