Yes, men can take vitamins and prenatal supplements to boost fertility

About 10% to 20% of infertility in men results from problems with their semen. However, male prenatal vitamins – also known as male fertility supplements – can help improve sperm count, says Juan Alvarez, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at the Fertility Centers of Illinois.

Alvarez recommends a daily multivitamin that includes


, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin D as well as a few other supplements. Here’s what researchers know so far about these supplements and their effect on male fertility.

1. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant. A 2011 study suggest

Vitamin E

with selenium is useful for increasing sperm motility – or the ability to swim to an egg – in infertile men.

The Mayo Clinic recommends 15 mg / day, with an intake not exceeding 180 mg, as this may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin involved in protein metabolism, among other bodily processes. Vitamin C itself is a antioxidant it can help improve the quality of semen.

According to a 2020 review, clinical evidence for vitamins that increase male fertility primarily include vitamin C, as well as L-carnitine, Vitamin E, and zinc. Alvarez recommends 1000-2000 mg of vitamin C per day.

3. L-carnitine

A 2012 review suggests that L-carnitine may help increase the quality and movement of sperm. The NIH reports that sufficient amounts of carnitine are produced by the human body, so there are no dietary recommendations for the supplement.

However, some studies of carnitine supplementation have shown that taking 2 grams per day for 2 months increased sperm motility.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another fat soluble vitamin useful for reducing inflammation, maintaining calcium and phosphate levels, and regulating cell growth.

A 2017 study found that by adding more

Vitamin D

helped control calcium levels, which is essential for sperm motility. Alvarez recommends 15 mcg of vitamin D per day.

5. Zinc

Zinc is involved in a series of processes that give sperm the physical ability to fuse and enter an egg.

A 2016 review reported that low zinc levels were associated with male infertility. Alvarez says he recommends a male prenatal multivitamin with zinc because of its ability to increase testosterone production, sperm count and sperm function.

NIH recommends not more than 40 mg of zinc per day, as too much can lead to harmful side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and compromised immune system.

6. Folic acid

Folic acid is a variant of folate – a water-soluble B vitamin that can help reduce sperm abnormalities according to Alvarez. The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults take not more than 400 micrograms per day.

It is important to note that the effects of folic acid and zinc on male fertility are still questionable. A 2020 study by the NIH found no benefit in terms of sperm quality or birth rate in men taking zinc and folic acid supplementation.

Can men take prenatal vitamins?

“I would strongly recommend that men who have abnormal semen parameters start taking L-carnitine, vitamin E and omega 3 DHA / fish oil, as these supplements have been shown to be of great benefit. antioxidant activity, ”says Alvarez. “Taking a supplement can help change the health of the sperm in [2-3 months], which is the time it takes for sperm to develop. “

Although there is limited evidence, according to the Mayo Clinic male fertility supplements can help sperm health and boost fertility.

Alvarez says there is no studied timeline for when men should start taking fertility supplements and vitamins, but at a minimum, he recommends 3 months, which is the time it takes to for the sperm to mature to such an extent that it can fertilize an egg.

There is also no shame in trying to increase your chances of having a child. Men tend to be less likely to seek treatment for infertility potentially due to a variety of stigmata related to the concepts of fatherhood, virility and frustration or emotional stress of male infertility.

When to see a doctor for infertility

You should see a doctor if you have erection problems, pain or lumps in your testicles, if you or your partner is over 35, or if you have recently had surgery involving your groin, prostate or the testicles.

The quality of semen decreases with age, especially after 40 years. Besides, John Hopkins Medicine reports that sperm disorders where men have trouble producing healthy sperm can affect fertility. It can be caused by genetic diseases, infections, hormonal issues, and lifestyle factors such as heavy drinking of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana.

To examine male fertility factors, James Grifo, MD, PhD, the program director at NYU Langone Prelude Fertility Center and chief medical officer of Inception Fertility says you should see a fertility urologist for further evaluation and testing. This specialist may look for abnormalities in semen analysis, anatomical abnormalities, ejaculation problems, or masses felt in the testicles.

“Any man who suffers from infertility can benefit from a qualified urologic workup,” Grifo explains.

Insider’s takeaway

Almost one in seven American couples have difficulty getting pregnant or having a pregnancy after a year or more of trying. And Alvarez says it’s important to know that male infertility is just as common as female infertility.

“Globally, one third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive problems, one third by female reproductive problems and one third by male and female reproductive problems or unknown factors, ”says Alvarez.

Male fertility can be aided by supplementation focused on improving sperm motility, sperm count, and increasing antioxidant activity.

For this reason, Alvarez says taking a daily male fertility multivitamin that includes zinc, folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin D can help improve sperm health.

Patricia J. Callender