Male Fertility Supplements: An Evidence Based Review and Recommendations

Men account for approximately 50% of all cases of infertility.

That means if you’re part of the 1 in 8 couples that struggle to conceive, one of the smartest things to do is have a semen analysis and start taking male fertility supplements if any sperm abnormalities are discovered.

While many cases of male infertility will need medical treatment, both those trying naturally and with assisted reproductive technologies can benefit from male fertility vitamins.

In this article, we will cover what exactly male fertility supplements are, what men should take them, when to take them, provide an evidence-based review on the top vitamins and nutrients for male fertility, and discuss products CNY recommends our patients and others take.

What are Male Fertility Supplements?

Male fertility supplements are simply dietary supplements that contain a combination of vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and their derivatives, whole foods, antioxidants, biomolecules, and other nutrients that have been shown to help male fertility.  

Many micronutrients found in male fertility supplements have been shown to:

  • increase sperm count
  • improve sperm motility
  • decrease DNA fragmentation
  • improve sperm morphology
  • increase overall male fertility

Some of the top nutrients in male fertility supplements are:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Selenium
  • Lycopene
  • CoQ10
  • Carnitine
  • Ashwagandha
  • Inositol
  • PQQ
  • Shilajit
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • D-Aspartic Acid
  • Fish oil

Because there are so many nutrients shown to improve male fertility, the main benefit of a product sold as a male fertility supplement is the convenience of buying only one or two products that contains everything you need as opposed to purchasing 10 or more separate supplements. Similarly, while most studies are conducted on a single nutrient, most of the top male fertility supplements combine many of the nutrients allowing for a compounding or synergistic effect of improving sperm health.

Of course, only the best male fertility supplements would have all of the above ingredients so it is important to look carefully at the ingredients in any male fertility supplement you are considering.

Who Should and Should Not Take Male Fertility Vitamins?

Most men could take male fertility supplements and benefit from them in some way.  However, there are most certainly male fertility diagnoses that would 100% need intervention before the supplements could help improve their chances of getting pregnant.

Who Should Likely Take Male Fertility Supplements:

  • Those with diagnosed oligozoospermia (low sperm count)
  • Those with diagnosed asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia (poor sperm motility)
  • Those with diagnosed Teratozoospermia (or poor sperm morphology)
  • Those with diagnosed Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OTA). This is when all sperm parameters are abnormal.
  • Those with other relatively minor diagnoses of male infertility.
  • Those with unexplained infertility.

Who Should Likely Not Take Male Fertility Supplements (or should fix underlying issues first):

  • Those with diagnosed Aspermia (no sperm) as this is likely that some larger genetic or congenital abnormality is at play that should be looked at and potentially corrected.
  • Those with a vasectomy.
  • Those with medical conditions that may make taking various dietary supplements dangerous.

As a further note, it is important to understand that there is still more to know about various micronutrients and their effect on male fertility. Furthermore, there are tremendous individual differences between people, and not all supplements (including vitamins sold for male fertility) are made equally.

For this reason, it is important to speak to a healthcare provider and only use a trusted brand of supplements for male fertility.

How Long Should a Man Take a Male Fertility Supplement?

Ideally, men should take a fertility supplement for a minimum of 90 days and continued until pregnancy is achieved.

That is because, contrary to popular belief, sperm take approximately 70-90 days to develop.

Yes, you heard that right. Despite the potential for millions of sperm to finish their development and be ready for ejaculation each day, each of those sperm started their developmental journey approximately 70-90 days earlier.

Since critical aspects of sperm development happen throughout this entire 90 days it is important that the sperm develop in the optimal, nutrient-rich, environment for the full 90 days.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, heard of it? You were probably expecting us to start off our list of male fertility supplements with something hard to pronounce, but this famous vitamin with potent antioxidant activity is one of the best nutrients for male fertility.

There’s a great deal of evidence that links oxidative stress to reduced sperm motility, reduced sperm count, sperm DNA damage, increased risk of recurrent pregnancy loss, and overall male infertility and that infertile men are substantially (like 30-80%) more likely to have elevated markers for oxidative stress  

Fortunately, antioxidants like Vitamin C (and many other nutrients in this article) protect your body from free radicals, oxidation, and oxidative stress.

Given all that, you may not be too surprised that Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to provide a huge increase in sperm count and motility.

Vitamin C Fertility Sperm Count

Vitamin C Fertility Sperm Motility

As you can see in the graphs above, both sperm motility and count pretty much doubled. In this same study, sperm also experienced a substantial improvement in sperm morphology.

While one study can only say so much about Vitamin C as a go-to male fertility vitamin, several other studies have backed up its potential as a potent male fertility supplement.

CoQ10

CoQ10 is a biomolecule found in every human cell. It is a powerful antioxidant and functions critically in cellular energy production within the mitochondria of cells.

Largely due to its role as an antioxidant and energy generator, it has been highly studied and shown to be one of the most powerful supplements for male fertility.

A study of infertile men conducted in 2019 found that supplementing with Co-Q10 can improve sperm count, motility, and morphology.  

Depending on the dose, sperm concentration jumped from 8.22 million/mL to 12.53 million/mL or 7.58 million/mL to 12.33 million/mL.

CoQ10 - Male Fertility Supplement for Sperm Count

Similarly, motility jumped approximately 5% with a 200 mg dose and 10% with a 400 mg dose.

CoQ10 - A Top Male Fertility Vitamin for Sperm Motility

While not as notable as count or motility, morphology also saw a slight increase in this study.

CoQ10 - Fertility Supplement for Men - Sperm Morphology

Other studies have drawn similar conclusions making CoQ10 a bonafide go-to supplement for improving sperm count, motility, and morphology.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a plant native to India whose roots have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine.  While Ashwagandha isn’t known to have a heavy dose of vitamins or minerals important for sperm health, it appears to have other biological compounds that can have quite a profound effect on sperm health making it one of the most important nutrients to look for in a male fertility supplement.

In one placebo-controlled study, those who took ashwagandha for 90 days experienced an increase in motility by 57%, semen volume by 53%, sperm count by 167%, and testosterone by 17%

Ashwagandha a Top Male Fertility Supplement Motility, Volume, Count, and Testosterone

While it is not exactly known how Ashwagandha exerts its effects as a male fertility supplement, it could be linked to stress.

Stress is turns out is a significant factor in male infertility.

On the other hand, a handful of studies show ashwagandha is quite good and managing stress.

One study found that after 60 days of taking ashwagandha, there was a 23% reduction in cortisol and self-reported measures of stress and anxiety.

Another well-designed study showed a 27.9% reduction in blood cortisol levels and large reductions on three commonly used questionnaires for measuring stress and anxiety.

Such effects are further backed by a review of 5 studies of ashwagandha and stress.

Carnitine

Carnitine is an amino acid derivative. It plays an important role in cellular energy production.  It does so by helping transport nutrients into a cell’s mitochondria where they can be broken down and used as energy.

Interestingly, carnitine is also found in high concentrations in the male reproductive tract. This suggests that carnitine plays a critical role in energy production for sperm maturation and sperm motility.

One study of infertile men who took 1000mg of carnitine for 6 months experienced an improvement in total and progressive forward motility compared to placebo and baseline values. In this study, the percentage of motile sperm improved from 23.17% to 31.11% and the percentage of forward progressive sperm went from 14.83% to 25.00%.

Carnitine - A Top Male Fertility Vitamin for Sperm Motility

Other studies have supported that acetyl l-carnitine is effective in improving all sperm parameters, with the most significant improvement being sperm motility.

All that makes carnitine one of the best male fertility supplements.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another popular vitamin that gets a lot of attention and has even been glorified with a cool nickname, the sunshine vitamin, due to the skin’s ability to synthesize it when exposed to sunlight.

As it turns out, our skin isn’t really that good at doing this. And because very few foods contain much vitamin D either, approximately 40% of the population is vitamin D deficient.  

As you may have heard, vitamin D is important for many vital biological functions, and low levels are linked to many adverse health outcomes, including male infertility.

This is likely due to Vitamin D’s important role in hormone production and sperm development.

Studies have shown vitamin D deficiencies are linked to poor sperm quality and that supplementing can improve outcomes.

Fish oil

Many people know of the benefits of fish oil and omega 3s during pregnancy and for general health and wellness, but omega 3s also serve as one of the best fertility supplements for men.

Omega-3 fatty acids are structural components of sperm cell membranes. Fertilization, is highly dependent upon this outer cell membrane of the sperm.

Observational studies have noted that fertile men have higher levels of plasma and seminal levels of omega 3s compared to infertility men and that higher omega 3 levels are related to higher sperm count and better motility and morphology.

A clinical trial of over 200 men taking 1.84 g of Omega 3s found that after 32 weeks those in the treatment group saw a total sperm count increase from 38.7 million to 61.7 million and a concentration of 15.6 million/ml to 28.7 million/ml.

Omega 3 Fish Oil - One of the Best Male Fertility Supplements

Studies have further shown that DHA supplementation can improve sperm motility.

These results have been further supported by a large-scale meta-analysis that reviewed and compiled data from 16 studies looking at omega 3s, sperm health, and male infertility. Of the 16 studies done on fish oil and male fertility 14 of them found an increase in at least one key sperm health parameter.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another common vitamin that routinely shows up in fertility supplements for men due to its important role as an antioxidant.

Fertility specialists advocate for vitamin E supplementation for men suffering from an unexplained reduction of semen quality. 

Recent studies have shown that men with impaired sperm motility can increase their motility by taking a vitamin E supplement. Studies also suggest that vitamin E can also help improve sperm morphology and natural pregnancy rates.

 

Zinc

Studies show that in the human body zinc concentrations are the highest seminal plasma and that the levels of zinc in sperm increase as a sperm develops.  Researchers have also found that fertile men have significantly higher zinc levels than infertile men.

This all suggests that zinc is incredibly important in sperm development and low levels could result in male infertility.

This is further backed up by an analysis of 17 studies that similarly showed zinc levels were lower in seminal fluids of infertility men.   

Furthermore, studies have shown zinc levels to be directly correlated with sperm count and motility; other studies have shown that supplementing with zinc improves sperm motility and count.

Folate

While folate is famous for its role in pregnancy and prenatal, it is also a common fertility vitamin for men.   Folate is vitamin B9 and it is known to work with zinc in the production of sperm DNA.  That said, clinical results from studies looking at folate supplementation and sperm quality are mixed.

Several studies have shown sperm count to be higher and spermatic DNA to be less damaged in men with higher seminal folate levels.

However, a large-scale 2019 study found no benefit.

So what can you make of this? Well, given that the 2019 study didn’t find any significant harm and other studies have found its benefit, we’d say the safe side still leans towards including this vitamin in your male fertility supplement regimen.

Vitamin B12

Studies suggest vitamin B12 is one nutrient that should be in any fertility supplement for men. It is involved in the metabolism of nearly all human cells as it is required for DNA synthesis along with fatty and amino acid metabolism. 

Not surprisingly, some studies found vitamin 12 to be transferred from the blood to male reproductive organs, that infertile men have lower seminal vitamin B12 than fertile men, and that that seminal vitamin B12 concentrations tend to be associated with sperm count in men undergoing IVF or ICSI fertility treatment. “/]

Studies as early as 1984 looked at vitamin B12 supplementation for the treatment of male infertility. In this 1984 study, men were given 1500 mcg of vitamin B12 for 8 weeks. As a result, nearly 40% of the participants experienced an increase in sperm concentration, 50% demonstrated an increase in total sperm count, and 50% experienced an increase in sperm motility. “/] Another study conducted in 2003 found that men Vitamin B12 improved sperm count in men with normal and low sperm counts.

A study in 2015 found that Vitamin B12 supplementation along with other antioxidants reduced DNA fragmentation of men with varicocele by 22%.

Other studies have shown similar results with the primary effect being an increase in sperm count. “/] “/]

Shilajit

Shilajit is another traditional medicine used widely in India for thousands of years. It is a tar-like substance high in fulvic and humic acids and is reported to have several benefits as a male fertility supplement.

One study that gave men with diagnosed low sperm count and infertility shilajit for 90 days found a significant increase in a few key sperm measurements. Notably, the study found a 12-17% increase in sperm motility and a 61% increase in sperm count.

Shilajit as a Male Fertility Supplement - Motility and Count (1)

Shilajit may further its powers as one of the best fertility supplements for men due to its synergistic effects with CoQ10.

One study that looked at CoQ10 and Shilajit’s effect on energy production found that the group that supplemented with both the CoQ10 and Shilajit had the highest levels of ATP (compared to those who supplemented with just one or neither). In fact, the post-exercise CoQ10 + Shilajit group had similar ATP levels to the pre-exercise controls.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a naturally occurring antioxidant found most prominently in tomatoes.

A 2002 study showed that supplementing with 2000 mcg of lycopene two times a day or three months improved sperm motility 25%, morphology 10%, and count by 22 million/ml.

Many other studies since then have supported the use of lycopene as a fertility supplement for men.

NAC N-acetyl-cysteine

Cysteine is considered a semi-essential amino acid. That’s because your body can make it from other amino acids, but only if the intake of methionine and serine are high enough. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is the form of cysteine used in dietary supplements. NAC is recognized and prized primarily for its role in antioxidant production. Due to the importance of antioxidants in male fertility, NAC has been studied for the potential treatment of male factor infertility.

A 2016 study examined men with varicocele. After varicocele surgery, the men were split into two groups. One received 600mg NAC for 90 days, the other received a placebo. Those in the NAC group saw improved sperm concentration, motility, and morphology compared to the placebo.

Those in the NAC group also had higher spontaneous clinical pregnancies during this 90 day post-surgery period, 33.4% compared to only 10%.

Many other high-quality placebo-controlled studies have demonstrated similar findings and thus support NAC’s use as a male fertility supplement.

Inositol

Inositol is widely famed as one of the best supplements for PCOS. That’s because inositol helps those with PCOS control their blood sugar and insulin levels which in turn help balance hormone levels and allow for normal spontaneous menstruation and ovulation.

While men can’t have PCOS, many of the same mechanisms that lead to PCOS (the leading cause of infertility worldwide) may play a role in male infertility as well.

Likely because of this, multiple studies have shown a positive effect on sperm motility and measurements of male fertility after inositol supplementation.

PQQ

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is relatively undiscovered in the world of male fertility supplements, but there is good reason for it to be considered as one. That’s because, much like CoQ10, one of the most famous male fertility supplements, PQQ functions to improve cellular energy production, which as we have already discussed, is critical for sperm development and motility.

While CoQ10 functions in the actual energy production pathway within mitochondria, PQQ has been shown to induce mitochondrial biogenesis; that means PQQ helps your cells make more mitochondria and thus more cellular energy.

While there are no studies looking specifically at PQQ and male fertility yet, many experts are already recommending PQQ due to the sound theoretical mechanism by which PQQ could help and its demonstrated safety as a dietary supplement in general.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a compound that has recently been the focus of several studies as a fertility supplement for men.

That’s because ALA exhibits many of the characteristics and potential upside of some of the best male fertility supplements due to it acting a potent antioxidant, role in reducing inflammation, and the fact that it occurs naturally in all human cells and is made in the mitochondria where it functions in cellular energy generation.

As you likely recall, sperm development and motility are highly dependent upon cellular energy generation and antioxidant protection from reactive oxygen species.

A 2015 study looking at infertile men diagnosed with poor sperm morphology and motility discovered that after 12 weeks of ALA supplementation total sperm count, sperm concentration, and sperm motility in the intervention group were significantly improved compared to the control group and baseline values.

Another 2020 looking at men who either supplemented with ALA or took a placebo after microsurgical repair of a varicocele discovered that men who supplemented with ALA had higher total motility, progressive motility, and sperm counts compared to the placebo group.

These notions were further supported by a 2021 meta-analysis that looked at several studies of ALA supplementation for male fertility found that ALA can improve sperm health, fertilization, and pregnancy rates. Specifically, the review supported the idea that ALA improves fertilization, embryo development, sperm quality, and reproductive outcomes.

Selenium

While there isn’t a tremendous amount of research on selenium and sperm health, there is enough base scientific understanding of selenium’s role in human physiology and some studies that justify its use in fertility supplements for men.

One study in specific looked at how selenium and vitamin E supplementation together worked to provide 50% of participants an improvement in sperm motility, morphology, or both. 10% of those also achieved a spontaneous pregnancy during the course of the study.

A number of other studies have also shown selenium to play an important role in sperm health.

D-Aspartic Acid

D-aspartic acid is an amino acid that is quite common in many animal-based meats. Based on one study of subfertile men with low sperm counts and or low motility, it may have a positive effect on sperm count, motility, and pregnancy rates. Males diagnosed only with low sperm motility experienced a 1.6x increase in sperm count

After 90 days of supplementation, those with both low sperm count and motility experienced a 2x increase in sperm count and a 1.5x increase in sperm count, and a 1.86x increase in sperm motility. An increased number of pregnancies was also reported in this study.

 

The Best Male Fertility Supplements

Male Preconception+

CNY Fertility considers The Male Preconception+ to be the best male fertility supplement on the market. It contains a high therapeutic level dose for just about every nutrient listed in this article. While it costs around $70/month, it is much more affordable than other significantly inferior male fertility supplements.

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VivoMega Fish Oil

The one thing the Male Preconception+ doesn’t have is Fish Oils. For Omega 3s, it’s highly important to be getting a therapeutic dose of roughly 2,000 mg per day. Molecular Fertility’s VivoMega Fish Oil contains 2,340 mg of Omega 3s per serving. That’s about 6-10x as strong as most OTC fish oil supplements you can pick up at your local store. 

Molecular Fertility’s VivoMega Fish Oil is also highly purified to eliminate any potential heavy metal exposure and far surpasses all of the most stringent international standards for fish oil purity and oxidation.

So while a single bottle is more expensive than you’re typically used to, remember you’re getting 6-10 times the amount of the highest quality omega 3s on the market.

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Male Preconception

Molecular Fertility’s standard Male Preconception is one top fertility supplements for men.  It contains all of the foundational fertility vitamins for men along with other key minerals and nutrients like zinc, lycopene, and carnitine.

This provides those on a budget or those undergoing ICSI (where sperm motility may not be as important) a highly effective but much more affordable option.

+ Shop Here

The Final Word on Male Fertility Supplements

When sperm aren’t healthy, getting pregnant can be quite the challenge.  Fortunately, there are lots of options to help those suffering from male factor infertility.  Some will of course need serious medical intervention and require IUI, IVF, or other fertility treatment.

Regardless of what treatments are required (if any at all), studies show and CNY recommends that a vast majority of those suffering from infertility (even those with no diagnosable cause, ie unexplained infertility) can benefit greatly from taking a male fertility vitamin. 

Who knows, as many of the studies in this article showed, you may even be the lucky one who experiences a natural pregnancy following some our recommended list of vitamins for male fertility.

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