How to increase sperm count

How to Increase Sperm Count

5 min read

In theory, you need just one sperm cell (and a good-quality egg) to make a baby, but in practice? You need at least 15 million sperm cells to get pregnant without intervention successfully (and they also need to have good motility and healthy DNA). That’s a lot of sperm. With up to 50% of infertility cases being linked to male-factor issues, you might be wondering about your own sperm health—and whether you can increase sperm count. 

Fortunately, your sperm count can be improved.  And unlike eggs, sperm can be regenerated—meaning, by tweaking your lifestyle, changing your diet, and taking supportive supplements you can give your sperm count the boost it needs. 

What is sperm count?

Sperm count is the number of sperm cells present in your semen. It can be calculated in sperm cells per milliliter or as a total of the sperm cells in a single semen sample. On average, sperm count is between 15 million and 200 million per milliliter, and at least 39 million per ejaculate. If your sperm count is less than 15 million per milliliter, you may have difficulty getting your partner pregnant (and about 1 in 20 men don't have any sperm cells in their semen, a condition called azoospermia).  

Male Infertility Signs and Symptoms →

How do you test sperm count?

Your doctor may order a test called a semen analysis to check your sperm count and how healthy your sperm cells are, though you’ll likely only do this test if you’ve been trying to conceive on your own for a while without luck. If you’re hoping to get insight sooner, you can also check your sperm count with our At Home Sperm Test. The test provides insight into a few different sperm parameters, the most important being motile sperm concentration (that’s how many sperm are moving). Testing can help you seek help earlier if you need to and provides context by showing you how well your sperm performs relative to other people with sperm who have had children. 

Understanding Sperm Health and How It’s Tested →

How is sperm count measured? 

Figuring out your sperm count involves, well, counting. After getting a sample of semen (collected in a clean tube after masturbating if you’re in-clinic, or following the directions of your at-home sperm test), it will be analyzed under a microscope and the number of sperm counted. Unfortunately, you can’t actually count sperm in a semen sample without the help of a microscope, and for the most accurate sperm sample results, you should abstain from sex for 3 to 7 days prior. 

What are the signs of low sperm count?

Low sperm count doesn’t usually have any clear signs, so it's difficult to determine without a sperm test or semen analysis.

But, you may have low sperm count if you have: 

  • Sexual function problems such as low sex drive, and difficulty having or maintaining an erection;

  • A lump, swelling, pain, or redness in your testicle area;

  • Reduced hair on your face or body; 

  • A genetic abnormality such as cystic fibrosis, Klinefelter syndrome, Noonan syndrome, or Y chromosome microdeletions; or

  • A hormone abnormality such as too little or too much testosterone, low thyroid hormones, low follicle-stimulating hormone, high estrogen, or high luteinizing hormone level.

What else can affect your sperm count? 

Your sperm count can also be low because of your lifestyle or experiences. Some factors that can cause low sperm count include: 

  • Infections: Mumps, sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, and urinary tract infections can block the tubes that transport sperm cells.

  • Health conditions: Obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, vascular disease, and similar conditions can cause low sperm count.

  • Medication: Anabolic steroids, hormone substitutes, anti-inflammatory medicines, antidepressants, cancer treatment (like chemotherapy and radiation), and some medications can lower sperm count.

  • Immune disorders: Some men produce antibodies that fight and kill their own sperm cells causing low sperm count.

  • Lifestyle: Smoking, drinking lots of alcohol, recreational drug use (such as cocaine, cannabis, and narcotics), stress, prolonged hours of sitting, and exposure to radiant heat, can lower sperm count.

What can you do to improve sperm count?

You can boost your sperm count through diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and supplements that support sperm health. 

Supplements to improve sperm health:

Bird&Be's The Powers for Males provides all these vital nutrients in easily absorbed forms. Along with supportive lifestyle changes, taking a prenatal supplement can help improve sperm health in as little as 3 months.

Other helpful lifestyle changes you can make to boost sperm health include: 

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants. Fruits, vegetables, seafood, shellfish, spices, seeds, nuts, and lean protein can help you get enough nutrients and boost your sperm production. Aim for 5 servings of fruit or vegetables every day. Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, asparagus, bananas, spinach eggs, oysters, and dark chocolate are good choices for sperm health. But, you may need to avoid soy as it contains Flavones that may hinder sperm development. 

  • Exercise regularly. Getting 150 to 300 minutes of vigorous exercise each week can help you stay fit mentally and physically. Exercise can also help you manage your weight. What's more, research shows that men who exercise regularly have better sperm health compared to those who don't. 

  • Manage stress. Take steps to manage stress by practicing meditation and yoga, connecting with nature, playing with pets, connecting with loved ones, and getting enough rest. 

  • Get enough sleep. Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and stick to your sleep schedule. Research shows that sleep disturbance plays a role in male infertility. 

  • Stay away from alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, and environmental toxins. Second-hand smoke is also harmful. Long-term handling of pesticides, herbicides, and preservatives like formaldehyde also harm sperm.

  • Stay cool. Wear loose-fitting cotton boxers and stay away from saunas, hot baths, and jacuzzis. Keep your laptop and phone away from your groin. Don’t sit (or cycle) for prolonged periods; studies show that cycling for too long can have a negative effect on your sperm health.