Can Supplements Actually Improve Male Fertility?

July 12,2022 |
Couple holding hands on beachy rocks.

Female infertility is a commonly discussed subject with several treatment options available. In addition to fertility drugs that help mimic hormone production, women have the option to use donor eggs, in vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination (AI), and more. However, the options for treating male infertility are less known and sometimes overlooked. Since conception requires both the sperm and the egg, male fertility is just as important when trying to have a child. To better understand this topic, we’ll discuss a few things about male fertility and whether or not supplements can legitimately improve sperm health, or if they’re simply a myth.


Basic Information About Male Infertility

In over a third of infertility cases, the issue is with the man. Most often, this is caused by either a problem with sperm production or a problem with sperm delivery. In males, testosterone is produced in the testicles, which helps control the production, storage, and transportation of sperm. Shortly before ejaculation, the sperm travels into the vas deferens. During ejaculation, the sperm passes through the ejaculatory duct, where it’s mixed with the fluid created by the prostate that forms semen. Semen then travels out of the penis through the urethra. Fertility depends on this process and when there are issues, the sperm may not be strong enough or plentiful enough to travel through the cervix and into the fallopian tubes for fertilization.

Causes of Infertility

Male infertility can be caused by several factors. The primary reasons that men suffer from infertility include:

If you’re trying to conceive and are having trouble, it’s just as important for men to see their urologist as it is for women to see their gynecologist. During this time, your sperm will be tested to determine the underlying cause of infertility issues. This will provide your urologist with further information regarding effective treatment options to help boost fertility and increase your chance of conception.


What are Fertility Supplements?

Male infertility can be a difficult diagnosis to receive. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. There are some things men can do to help support healthy reproductive functioning. One of these options involves taking fertility supplements.

Fertility supplements are vitamins and minerals that can help the body naturally produce healthy, strong sperm. However, if you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, it’s likely that you’re already getting an adequate amount of these vitamins and minerals. This has caused many individuals to question the legitimacy and efficacy of fertility supplements. Therein lies the controversial question: do male fertility supplements actually work or are they just a farce?

To answer this question, it’s important to consider all of the various ingredients used in fertility supplements, results from scientific studies, and the risk of supplements when compared to their potential benefits.


Common Ingredients Used in Fertility Supplements

All supplements are different, and their ingredient list varies based on manufacturer or distributor. Always read the label on any supplements you plan to implement into your diet and discuss them with your doctor ahead of time. Some of the most common ingredients used in fertility supplements are as follows:


Almost every fertility supplement will have some type of antioxidant in it. For both men and women, antioxidants have been shown to help improve the health of the sperm and egg respectively. Common antioxidants that are found in fertility supplements are green tea, melatonin, ubiquinol, and more.

Acetyl L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is a type of amino acid, which are building blocks of protein within the body. Some studies have shown that taking a carnitine supplement can increase sperm count, motility, and overall rates of conception. Therefore, if your doctor determines that infertility issues stem from abnormal sperm, this supplement may help improve fertility.

Coenzyme Q-10

Coenzyme Q-10 is an antioxidant that your body naturally produces. It’s responsible for growth and maintenance and can help improve heart health and blood pressure. There’s some indication that taking CoQ10 if you have a deficiency can help improve sperm count, movement, and shape.

Vitamins C and E

Vitamin C may help aid in male fertility, as previous studies have shown that regular intake can help enhance sperm concentration, motility, and morphology. It works by aiding in the protection of the sperm’s DNA from free radical damage. Due to its antioxidant effects, vitamin E may also be able to improve sperm motility and overall fertility in men.


N-acetyl-l-cysteine, also referred to as NAC, is a variant of the amino acid L-cysteine. It has antioxidant properties and has shown indications of reducing cellular death in some circumstances. While many studies have shown this to be an effective supplement for male fertility, its regular intake poses a high risk of significant side effects. Therefore, this is not commonly recommended to use for fertility-related issues unless prescribed by your doctor.

Most of these vitamins and minerals can be consumed in abundance through a healthy diet. Rather than immediately jumping to supplements, try altering your lifestyle habits and adopting a diet that’s filled with whole foods, healthy fats, and lean proteins. It’s also worth stating that if you eat a healthy, well-rounded diet, it’s unlikely that you’re suffering from a zinc deficiency, which is a commonly taken supplement. Never take any supplements without first undergoing a blood test. This will help reduce the risk of toxicity.


The Issue with Supplements

The biggest problem with research on supplements is that it’s inconsistent. Some individuals saw an obvious improvement in fertility rates when taking certain supplements, while others saw no improvement at all. This makes it difficult to definitively state the supplement’s direct effectiveness on male fertility. Therefore, it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor. You should also familiarize yourself with any risks of supplement use and warning signs for toxicity.

Since supplements are sold over the counter, it’s easy to head to your local drug store and pick up a bottle. However, these claims have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are therefore, not regulated. While the claims of fertility supplements may sound good, they’re not always clear cut or proven. Similarly, just because something is “natural” does not mean it’s safe or free of side effects. In fact, it’s completely possible to overdose on vitamins or suffer from dangerous reactions. If you want to try supplements to boost fertility, it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor before starting a new regimen.

You should also remember that taking supplements won’t replace more intensive fertility treatment. Since many supplements have not been scientifically proven, taking them can make it more difficult for certain people to conceive. The best thing to do is to work with your doctor to determine a fertility plan for your situation. Urologists can help you improve sperm count and gynecologists have plenty of ways of helping women increase their fertility but relying on supplements alone will likely end in disappointment.


Discussing Fertility Supplements with Your Doctor

In addition to diagnosing and treating conditions related to the urinary system, urologists also specialize in the male reproductive system. Therefore, if you notice any issues relating to male genitals, seeing a urologist as soon as possible is encouraged. You should also schedule an appointment if you’re having trouble with conception. By working closely with your urologist, you’ll be able to take a more directed approach to infertility and utilize a targeted treatment plan that’s specific to what’s causing your fertility issues.

Once determined, it’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment plans and never take more than the recommended dose of any supplement. It is possible to experience vitamin toxicity or overdose on certain supplements. In fact, taking a high dose of any supplement can lead to worsened problems with sperm production over time and can even affect your central nervous system. If, at any time while taking supplements you begin to experience alarming symptoms, seek medical care immediately.

Seeing your urologist regularly will help you address any fertility or reproductive-related issues and determine the proper treatment plan. To help support your lifestyle, Byram Healthcare offers a wide range of urologic products to alleviate symptoms and take control of your life. Browse our product catalog today and enjoy fast, discreet delivery directly to your doorstep. 

Byram Healthcare is a member of the National Association for Continence’s Trusted Partners Program, whose mission is to provide quality continence care through education, collaboration and advocacy. We continue to build partnerships in the clinical community to ensure we focus on what’s best for the patient.