When you’re trying to conceive or dealing with fertility issues, it may be tempting to reach for one of the many supplements marketed to boost male fertility. However, research on the safety and efficacy of these supplements is limited.
Since supplements aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the way medications are, it can be challenging to know if a supplement contains what it says it does, and what effect it will have on the body, explains Philip Cheng, M.D., a male infertility doctor and urologist with Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey. In order to get the nutrients you need to support healthy sperm production, he recommends focusing on a healthy diet.
Research suggests the following supplements may improve sperm quality, especially if you aren’t getting enough of the nutrients they provide through your diet—but remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your physician before adding new supplements to your regimen to avoid interactions with any medications you are taking.
Research notes Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinol, is one of the most studied and promising supplements for improving male fertility. Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant naturally produced in your body and stored in your mitochondria (the energy factories in your cells). Its antioxidant properties may help protect sperm from damaging free radicals.
One review found that men who supplemented with CoQ10 experienced significant increases in sperm concentration and sperm motility compared to those who took a placebo.
Russell Hayden, M.D., a Harvard-trained urologist with a sub-specialty in male infertility and microsurgery, recommends 300 milligrams to 400 milligrams of a generic coenzyme Q10 supplement daily to his male infertility patients.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
When it comes to supplements for male fertility, “DHA omega-3 fatty acid supplementation appears to have some of the strongest data supporting its use,” says Lauren Manaker, a registered dietitian and author of Fueling Male Fertility.
Fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are important components of sperm cell membranes, and omega-3 fatty acid intake directly correlates to sperm quality—so the more you consume, you may have higher quality of sperm.
A recent review on the effects of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA on male infertility found that men who took omega-3 treatments had significantly increased sperm motility compared with men who took a placebo.
If your intake of omega-3s from foods like fatty fish, walnuts, chia and flax seeds is low, you might benefit from taking a supplement.
Prenatal Vitamins for Men
Women who are trying to conceive are routinely advised to take a prenatal vitamin, but men’s prenatals are starting to become popular as well, notes licensed dietitian Becca Romero, a functional nutritionist specializing in fertility. She recommends men’s prenatal multivitamins WeNatal For Him and Needed to her patients.
WeNatal For Him is a prenatal supplement for men that is formulated to support overall sperm health. It contains a range of vitamins and minerals along with other ingredients and antioxidants that are marketed to boost male fertility, like maca, CoQ10 and acetyl L-carnitine.
Needed Men’s Multi is recommended for men before conceiving and in the years that follow. It contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, as well as an organic antioxidant blend of foods like grape, cranberry, pomegranate, blueberry, apple, mangosteen, bilberry, chokeberry and goji berry.
A male prenatal multivitamin can fill any nutrition gaps in your diet and help you avoid deficiencies that could impact your sperm quality. When choosing a men’s prenatal supplement, steer clear of formulations that contain unstudied ingredients or excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals.