Male Fertility Supplements: An Evidence Based Review and Recommendations
We discuss various nutrients and dietary supplements in this article that may or may not be helpful. If you purchase recommended products, services, or treatments, it may benefit CNY Fertility financially. Read more about our financial relationships here. The supplements discussed in this article are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, take any medications, or have been diagnosed with a medical condition, consult with a healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.
Sperm development and male fertility is quite a complex topic of human health. Not surprisingly however, male fertility is highly affected by a multitude of lifestyle factors, including the intake of various nutrients. Chronic stress may negatively impact testosterone and LH production which are critical for sperm development.
In this article, we will cover what exactly male fertility supplements are, which 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.
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
- support DNA integrity
- improve sperm morphology
- support overall male fertility
Some of the top nutrients in male fertility supplements are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- D-Aspartic Acid
- Fish oil
Since many vitamins and nutrients have been shown to improve male fertility, we generally recommend looking for a supplement that contains a wide range of them to take advantage of any compounding or synergistic effects these nutrients have.
Who Should and Should Not Take Male Fertility Vitamins?
Most men can safely take male fertility supplements and benefit from them in some way. As mentioned above, many of the vitamins and nutrients found in male fertility supplements have been shown to support healthy:
- sperm count
- sperm motility
- DNA integrity
- sperm morphology
- overall male fertility
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.
And remember, it’s important to speak to a healthcare provider prior to taking any supplements if you take any medications or are diagnosed with a medical condition.
How Long Should a Man Take a Male Fertility Supplement?
Ideally, men should take a fertility supplement for 90+ days and continue until pregnancy is achieved.
This 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.
If that’s not possible, aim to take them for a minimum of 30.
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 likely one of the nutrients that best supports normal male fertility.
There’s a great deal of evidence that links oxidative stress to reduced sperm motility, reduced sperm count, sperm DNA damage, and male reproductive health.
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 support healthy sperm count and motility. In one study, researchers, researchers looked at sperm count and motility before and after vitamin C supplementation.
In this same study, sperm also experienced a significant improvement in morphology.
Several other studies have supported these findings making Vitamin C an important dietary supplement to consider for male fertility.
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 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.
Similarly, motility jumped approximately 5% with a 200 mg dose and 10% with a 400 mg dose.
While not as notable as count or motility, morphology also saw a slight increase in this study.
Other studies have drawn similar conclusions making CoQ10 a bonafide go-to supplement for improving sperm count, motility, and morphology.
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%
While it is not exactly known how Ashwagandha exerts its effects as a male fertility supplement, it could in part be linked to stress.
It is generally understood that stress plays a significant factor in male fertility.
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 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 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%.
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 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.
This is problematic as vitamin D is important for many vital biological functions, including hormone production, sperm development, and overall male fertility and reproductive health.
Studies have shown vitamin D deficiencies are linked to poor sperm quality and that supplementing can help support healthy sperm motility and other measures of sperm quality.
Many people know of the benefits of fish oil and omega 3s during pregnancy and for general health and wellness, but omega 3 fatty acids also serve as an important fertility supplement 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 plasma and seminal levels of omega 3s to be associated with sperm count, motility, and morphology.
A study of over 200 men taking 1.84 g of Omega 3s found that after 32 weeks those in the supplementation group saw a average 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.
Various meta-analyses have been done on the use of omega 3 supplementation to support sperm health and have generally found positive results.
One of the studies mentioned above-compiled data from 16 studies looking at omega 3s, sperm health, and male fertility. Of the 16 studies, 14 of them found an increase in at least one key sperm health parameter.
Vitamin E is another common vitamin that routinely shows up in fertility supplements for men due to its role as an antioxidant.
Several 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.
Studies show that in the human body zinc concentrations are the highest seminal plasma and that the levels of zinc inside sperm increase as a sperm develops. Researchers have also found zinc levels to be correlated to measures of sperm quality.
This suggests that zinc likely plays an important role in sperm development.
The importance of zinc in sperm health is backed up by various studies correlating zinc levels to sperm count, motility, and male fertility including a meta-analysis of 17 studies. other studies have shown that supplementing with zinc improves sperm motility and count.
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.
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 and that that seminal vitamin B12 concentrations are correlated with sperm count. “/]
Studies as early as 1984 looked at vitamin B12 supplementation for male fertility. 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 supports DNA integrity of men with varicocele by 22%.
Other studies have shown similar results with the primary effect being an increase in sperm count. “/] “/]
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 shilajit for 90 days and 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 may also make positive contributions as a fertility supplement for men due to possible synergistic effects with CoQ10.
One study that looked at CoQ10 and Shilajit’s effect on energy production found that the mice 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 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.
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 as a potential male fertility supplement.
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.
Inositol is famed as an important fertility supplement for women, but multiple studies have shown a positive effect on sperm motility and other measurements of male fertility after inositol supplementation.
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 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.
Other studies including a 2021 meta-analysis that looked at several studies of ALA supplementation for male fertility found that ALA can improve sperm health (motility and count), fertilization, and pregnancy rates. Specifically, the review supported the idea that ALA improves sperm quality, fertilization, embryo development, and reproductive outcomes.
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 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
At CNY Fertility, our team of experts formulated our very own line of supplements, Molecular Fertility, to support male and female reproductive health. Molecular Fertiltiy’s male fertility supplements are designed to help support various aspects of male fertility including sperm count, motility, morphology, and DNA integrity.
We recommend the following products.
The Male Preconception+ is our number one recommended product for those looking to support sperm count, motility, morphology, or DNA integrity:
- Vitamin A, C, D, E, and B vitamins
- and much more
At approximately $70/month, it is a bit pricey, but still much more affordable than other premium male fertility supplements.
VivoMega Fish Oil
Molecular Fertility’s VivoMega Fish Oil contains 2,340 mg of Omega 3s per serving. That’s about 6x 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.
Costing $45/bottle, it’s a bit more expensive than you could get at your local store, but at 6x the strength it is actually quite affordable on a per mg basis.
Molecular Fertility’s standard Male Preconception contains a great foundation of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to support male reproductive health.
Male Preconception is an affordable and a great option for those shopping for a male fertility supplement.
The Final Word on Male Fertility Supplements
While fertility supplements are not a treatment of any disease, there’s a significant number of studies showing that many nutrients can support various aspects of male reproductive health including sperm count, motility, morphology, and DNA integrity.