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Men’s Health: Fertility

Introduction to Men’s Health

It takes two to tango...and to make a baby, of course. As a future father, there are plenty of tools you can turn to improve the quality and quantity of your ‘swimmers’. In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how much affects your fertility. Ultimately, you need a 360-degree approach, tackling all areas of your lifestyle: diet, emotional health, sleep and even the way you work (hint: get that laptop off your lap!).  

Move regularly, but don’t overdo it

We can now add fertility to the long list of areas exercise excels. In one study, men who performed at least half an hour of exercise three times a week improved their sperm count.(30) Participants who started running and maintained a healthy treadmill-training schedule had ‘healthier soldiers’ than other men in the study. However, the same investigation reported that intense exercise sessions (approximately one-hour stints) and competitive sports, like cycling, might also lower sperm quality.(31) The take-home message is this: exercise moderately, but  don’t overdo it! 

Minimize stress 

Modern life doesn’t always make it easy to decompress. We’ve become a nation of stressed and frazzled individuals. Of course, trying for a baby can also pile on the pressure, especially if you’ve been trying for a while. However, relaxation is the key to unlocking the cogs of your fertility. On-going stress may limit sperm production.(32) Turn back to pages 14-16 to learn how best to manage stress.  

Save your sleep 

Did you know that both insomnia (sleep deprivation) and hypersomnia (excessive sleep) have been linked to poor sperm quality?(34) Try to find that sweet sleep spot – somewhere between seven and nine hours. Head back to page 20-22 to learn more about improving your
sleep hygiene.

Keep it cool down below 

It’s worth mentioning that sperm functions best just below your own body temperature. So, if you’re actively trying for a baby, avoid these groin-overheating-activities as much as possible:

  • Limit the use of hot baths or saunas – take showers instead

  • Don’t sit with a warm laptop on your lap for long periods 

  • If you work in a hot environment, ensure you take regular breaks outside 

  • Limit sitting down for long periods

  • Avoid wearing tight underwear or trousers 


Shed excess weight 

Researchers have reported that overweight and obese men are more likely to have a lower sperm count than their normal-weight counterparts. (33) In an ideal world, you should aim for a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. Some of the best ways to achieve healthy, long-lasting weight-loss results include eating a whole food diet (foods in their ‘whole’ form), exercising most days, and going easy on the beers. 

Slash the smokes

Smoking also conspires to hijack your chances of conceiving. This habit can reduce the quality of your sperm, lower sperm count and affect the sperm’s ability to swim. (35) Thankfully, smoking cessation can reverse the damage. For more help on quitting, head over to NHS stop smoking services. 
Be mindful that if you smoke, but your partner doesn’t, your second-hand smoke may also affect her fertility and overall health.  

Additional support



The mineral, zinc, may be a useful addition at this time. Eat it: chickpeas.


A critically important trace mineral, selenium contributes to normal spermatogenesis (sperm health). Eat it: Brazil nuts.

Limit tipples

Trying for a baby can be overwhelming. But as tempting as it may be, refrain from using alcohol to take the edge off. There’s a compelling amount of evidence to suggest that drinking to excess may affect your fertility. In men, regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol may lower libido, reduce testosterone levels and lower sperm quality and quantity.(36) Reducing your intake – or better yet, avoiding alcohol altogether – will also make it easy for your partner to teetotal.  


  1. BBC News. 2020. 'Exercise Boosts Men's Sperm Count'. [ONLINE] Available at:
  2. BBC News. 2020. 'Exercise Boosts Men's Sperm Count'. [ONLINE] Available at:
  3. 2020. How To Improve Male Fertility. [ONLINE] Available at:
  4. Chen Q, Yang H, Zhou N, Sun L, Bao H, Tan L, Chen H, Ling X, Zhang G, Huang L, Li L, Ma M, Yang H, Wang X, Zou P, Peng K, Liu T, Cui Z, Ao L, Roenneberg T, Zhou Z, Cao J. (2016) Inverse U-shaped Association between Sleep Duration and Semen Quality: Longitudinal Observational Study (MARHCS) in Chongqing, China. Sleep, 39(1): 79-86. 
  5. News. 2020. Excess Weight May Affect Sperm Production, Reduce Fertility In Men. [ONLINE] Available at:
  6. Sansone, A., Di Dato, C., de Angelis, C., Menafra, D., Pozza, C., Pivonello, R., Isidori, A., & Gianfrilli, D. (2018). Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and male fertility. Reproductive biology and endocrinology : RB&E, 16(1), 3. 
  7. Sansone, et al., Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction, 3. 
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