Last Reviewed May 2011
- Taking Drugs and alcohol can damage your sperm.
- Eating a healthy diet promotes healthy sperm.
- Being exposed to toxins in your environment can affect your sperm.
- Having some diseases or infections can lessen your chances of fathering a child.
Building Healthy Sperm
Can you count on your sperm to 'get the job done?'
Most likely they will — unless you have a history of sexually transmitted infections, heavy drinking or smoking.
Building healthy sperm means watching what you eat and cutting back on things that are known to cause infertility in men. It takes 100 days for sperm to develop so you need to plan ahead.
You’ll boost your chances of fathering a healthy baby if you:
- Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can not only affect your sperm’s quality, but also make your body produce less sperm than it should. And the less sperm you have the less chance you’ll get your partner pregnant.
- Don’t Smoke
The quality of a man’s sperm can be affected by smoking. Smoking can change the shape of your sperm and affect how fast they swim. Smokers’ sperm have a harder time fertilizing a woman’s egg to create a pregnancy. Smoking can make it harder for a man to get an erection Research also shows a slight increase in certain types of cancer in children of smoking fathers.
- Eat Healthy Foods
If your body isn’t getting certain vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, your sperm count may be lower than normal. Follow Canada’s Food Guide to make sure you are eating healthy.
- Avoid Drugs
- Prescription Drugs
Some medications for ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, asthma and arthritis can affect your sperm production and sperm count. Check with your doctor to see if your prescription(s) could affect your fertility.
- Recreational Drugs
Heroin, cocaine and high doses of marijuana can lessen your sex drive and lower your sperm count. Cocaine use in men has also been linked with birth defects. The effects of drug use can later show up in the form of learning disabilities in your child.
- Know Your Environment
Toxins and poisons at home or at work can affect your sperm.
Exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to birth defects, so check your level of exposure to lead, pesticides, solvents and other chemicals at work and at home before you start trying to conceive.
- Stay Cool
Excessive heat to your testicles, like when you use hot tubs and saunas can cause a decrease in your sperm quality. So reduce the time you spend in the hot tub, sauna or shower (more than 30 minutes). Don’t use heating pads, electric blankets and avoid tight fitting pants and underwear. If you wear briefs make sure it’s loose, or switch to boxers
- Know Your Medical History
Some medications and diseases can affect your sperm quality and count. Cancer, mumps, diabetes, Hepatitis B, sexually transmitted infections and HIV can affect your chances for making pregnancy happen or having a healthy baby.
For more information:
Region of Peel — Public Health
905-799-7700 Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216
To speak with a Public Health Nurse
Your Health Before Pregnancy – For Men Only
Ontario’s Maternal, newborn and early child development centre
Alcohol & Substance Use