Healthy sperm is key, not just for conception, but during pregnancy and for your child’s development.

While some aspects of fertility may be out of your control, making positive changes to your lifestyle can have a really positive impact on your chances of conceiving a healthy child, either naturally, or with IVF.

What is meant by ‘healthy sperm’?

To conceive a baby naturally, you will need to have enough sperm in your semen that is mobile enough to reach an egg and are in the best shape to do so. The quantity, motility and shape are all important factors in natural conception. 

Healthy sperm are also important for IVF and IUI treatments, however, some of the processes involved allow for the healthiest sperm to be selected and override the need for the sperm to be as mobile, as the sperm is placed next to or into the egg in the lab. 

discover key factors in male fertility and how to improve them for IVF
Discover key factors in male fertility and how to improve them for IVF

Which lifestyle factors can make a difference in male fertility?

For good general health, longevity and mental well-being, it’s recommended that you have a healthy diet, healthy BMI and exercise regularly.  The same is true for increasing your fertility. Following these guidelines may improve your chances of conceiving: 

  • Eat healthy foods (see Fertility diet, below)
  • Maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index – weight to height ratio) 
  • Exercise regularly – moderate exercise, rather than strenuous 
  • Stay calm – long-term stress can affect sperm production, so taking time to relax is important
  • Have intercourse regularly – 2-3 times a week, especially around the time of ovulation
  • Avoid smoking – smoking can reduce fertility and affect your baby’s development
  • Reduce your alcohol intake – alcohol reduces sperm production
  • Avoid strong chemicals where possible
  • Make an appointment with your GP to check whether any medication you are taking may affect your fertility
  • Reduce tea and coffee intake – like alcohol, they can lead to dehydration
  • Stay cool – clothing and temperature can also affect fertility. As sperm need to be kept cooler than body temperature, the testicles are located outside of your body. Wearing light, loose-fitting underwear and moving around, rather than sitting still all day, can help to maintain a good temperature for your sperm. 

What is a fertility diet?

A fertility diet is a healthy diet, containing foods that can maximise fertility. Having a whole food diet with yellow, orange and red fruits and vegetables and the right type and quantity of vitamins and minerals, is important for both your fertility and the health of your unborn baby.

For good sperm health, opt for polyunsaturated fats, found in vegetable oils, oily fish, seeds and nuts, rather than saturated and trans fats. 

Vegetables, nuts, seeds and asparagus provide natural sources of vitamins and minerals, which are important factors in male fertility. Eating Greek-style yoghurt has been shown to improve semen quality.


I’m trying for a baby now – will these lifestyle changes still help?

Yes. As new sperm are being created all of the time, introducing healthy habits now, can still make a difference.  If you have a healthy body, as well as helping your chances of conceiving a healthy child, you’ll also have more energy to deal with the challenges of pregnancy, the birth and having a newborn baby to look after.


At the IVF Network, we know that trying to conceive and going through fertility tests and treatment, can be emotionally and physically challenging. That’s why we provide clear and concise information and advice for you, through our dedicated channel (with talks from experts in the field of fertility) as well as through our website and blog posts, to help you to make informed choices on your own fertility journey.