How to boost male fertility

Simple lifestyle changes can help increase your sperm count and quality. Here's how to boost your chances of conceiving.

If you’re trying for a baby, you’ve generally got around a one-in-five chance of conceiving during ovulation each month. Some couples get lucky early in the process, while others may find it’s a lot harder than anticipated.


A father and baby cuddling

Roughly 15% of couples experience challenges with fertility, and 30% of the time it originates with the man. (Another 30% of fertility problems originate with the woman; 30% of the time it’s both partners; and 1% of the time no cause can be found.) When planning a family it’s vital to consider the male side of the equation.

Men need to produce around 20 million sperm per millilitre to conceive, and they’ve got to be strong swimmers to make the journey to fertilise an egg. A healthy adult male can release between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm cells in a single ejaculation. The average male will produce roughly 525 billion sperm cells over a lifetime and shed at least one billion of them per month!

Why so many? Well, blame the competitive side of nature. More sperm means there’s a greater chance of fertilising an egg. Over time the high sperm producers have been able to pass on their genes – survival of the fittest. Of course, it’s not as brutal as it used to be, with modern medicine and science now helping many couples to conceive.

There’s a lot of talk about female fertility cycles, with a lot of pressure applied to the process. But it does take two to tango. Male fertility cycles do exist, but they work a bit differently because it’s more about planning. There are little things you can do each month to be ready to conceive.

Here are a few lifestyle changes that can help:

Bench the booze

Binge drinking is not good for your health and it can have flow-on effects that may limit your fertility. Try drinking in moderation or getting rid of alcohol altogether.

Lose some weight

Studies show that obese men are less fertile than men who maintain a healthy weight. If it’s time to lose weight, diet and exercise play in important role in male fertility.

Get moving

Sperm quality is reduced when men are too sedentary. Regular exercise does many great things for your body and improving the quality of your sperm is one of them.

Sub in salads

Change your diet, which may help you maintain a healthy weight. Try adding foods such as pumpkin seeds and parsley, as well as meals packed with vitamins such as zinc, vitamin E and B12 and various antioxidants.

Quit smoking and avoid recreational drug use

Heavy smokers can produce up to 20% fewer sperm, and it may increase the number of abnormally shaped sperm, making it harder for sperm to fertilise the egg. Time to quit.

Beware the underwear

Sperm production thrives in temperatures a few degrees lower than the temperature in your abdomen. Your underwear choice may play a role in keeping the temperature inside your scrotum cool. Choose boxer shorts or look into underwear with fabrics that allow for proper airflow.

Keep it fresh

A common myth about male fertility is that sperm becomes more potent if a man abstains from sex or ejaculation. Sperm can become damaged if it remains in the testicles for too long. When trying for a baby it’s recommended to ejaculate or have sex 2-3 times a week to avoid a build-up and improve the quality of sperm.

What next?

If you’ve taken all these steps to boost your fertility but aren’t getting a tick on a pregnancy test after a year or trying, it may be time to investigate further.

The most common causes of male infertility are:

  • Low sperm count
  • Impotence
  • Hormonal problems
  • Blocks to the passage of sperm

A series of tests can help determine if any of these major factors are limiting your chances of conceiving. Treatment options are available, but it’s best to chat about the next steps with your doctor if any are identified.

Need a little extra support?

Health Concierge

Whether it’s taking you a little longer to fall pregnant than you expected, or you know you’ll be needing a bit of extra help, Medibank’s Health Concierge service is there to help. You can call 1800 789 414 for support and guidance, available at no extra cost for members with residential hospital cover#. 

Got a health question? 24/7 Medibank nurse phone service

Members with hospital cover can chat to experienced and qualified nurses over the phone to discuss any health questions or concerns and get professional advice on what to do next. Our nurses are available on 1800 644 325~ for round-the-clock health advice.

Optimal me

Medibank has partnered with Monash University to create OptimalMe, a research program designed to help mums-to-be optimise their health before they conceive. The program features tailored health and wellbeing tips and personal guidance on fitness and nutrition. 

If you’re planning to have a baby in the next 12 months you may be eligible to take part.  Find out more here

Looking for something else?

Visit Medibank Planning, Pregnancy and Parenting for a range of tools and advice to help you at every stage of your pregnancy journey.

Help the way you want it

Contact us 

Call us on 134 190 to speak to a consultant. Alternatively, chat to us 24/7 online.

Self-service options

Login to MyMedibank or Download the MyMedibank App for self service options.

Find a specialist

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Things you should know

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

# Health Concierge is available to all eligible Medibank members who hold hospital cover. Excludes Overseas Visitor Health Cover, Working Visa Health Cover and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Some referred services may involve out of pocket costs.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).