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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).
At-home sperm test: types, efficacy, and what to do with the results
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.
How much sperm does it take to get pregnant?
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.
What can a man eat to help produce healthy sperm?
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.
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- 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/
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Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.