Diet (2016, 2017) & Male Infertility


Learn more about male infertility.


Mediterranean Diet. Researchers investigated whether the Mediterranean diet would have a beneficial effect on male fertility/infertility. It was already known that diets high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish and decreasing diet components of meat and processed foods are good for overall health.

To find out whether this diet would be helpful researchers assessed the diets of 225 men, aged 26-55 at a fertility clinic. More than half of the men were overweight and more than 20% smoked cigarettes. Participants in the study completed a questionnaire about their diet. Instead of asking subjects to recall their diet this type of "food frequency questionnaire" provides a limited list of foods and drinks and the user notes which items they consume and how much/how often. This method produces information with which the researchers can accurately judge information from different people. The method uses a scoring technique known as the MedDietScore.

The researchers then divided the results into three DietMedScore groups: upper 1/3, middle 1/3 and lower 1/3 measuring how closely the diet resembled the Mediterranean diet.

They found that the men in the upper 1/3 range had the greatest sperm concentration, sperm count, sperm motility (movement), and sperm morphology (size and shape). Normal sperm have an oval head and long tail.

The men in the lowest 1/3 range had the lowest sperm concentration, sperm count, sperm motility, and abnormal sperm shape and size.

The research is not perfect because it represents a measurement taken at a single time rather than over a long period of time. Nonetheless the results substantiate earlier research on the same topic: that diets featuring whole grains, more fruits and vegetables and legumes produce better sperm quality.

Researchers: D. Karayiannis, M.D. Kontogianni, et al.
Published: Association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and semen quality parameters in male partners of couples attempting fertility, Human Reproduction, January, 2017.


BPA and Type of Dietary Fat. Researchers determined through lab animal testing that diets rich in butterfat and bisphenol A (BPA) damaged the quality of the animals' sperm.

Researchers investigated the effects of BPA, a known endocrine disruptor in combination with different diets. They gave lab animals BPA with diets including butterfat, high levels of butterfat or olive oil, all compared to with and without BPA.

They found that the animals receiving BPA, high butterfat diets, or BPA plus high butterfat diets had poor sperm-generating capacity. But the animals who received diets rich in olive oil or olive oil plus BPA did not have this problem.

Researchers: P. Tarapore, M. Hennessy, et al.
Published: High butter-fat diet and bisphenol A additively impair male rat spermatogenesis, Reproductive Toxicology, September, 2016.

Antioxidants & Low-Fat Diet. Researchers investigated lab animal sperm quality with respect to antioxidant consumption and calorie restriction in their diets.

Animals were fed for nearly three months on:

  1. an uncontrolled diet,
  2. a fat-restricted diet,
  3. an uncontrolled diet with astaxanthin, vitamins E & C, or
  4. an restricted diet with astaxanthin, vitamins E & C.

After three months the fourth group which was fed a low-fat diet with antioxidant supplementation had markedly better sperm count and better sperm motility.

Researchers: A. Vahidinia, A.R. Rahbar, et al.
Published: Journal of Dietary Supplements, May, 2016.

Vegetarian Diet. Loma Linda, California, inhabited mostly by vegetarians has been designated a blue zone based on the above average health of its population. In order to do a sperm quality study comparing a large number of vegetarians with a large number of non-vegetarians, scientists focused on the vegetarians living in Loma Linda.

Men following a strictly vegetarian diet, lacto-ovo, or vegan had the lowest sperm concentration, and motility.

Researchers: E.M. Orzylowska, J. D. Jacobson, et al.
Published: Food intake diet and sperm characteristics in a blue zone: a Loma Linda Study, European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, August, 2016.