Author: Dr. D Maheshwari, Consultant & Fertility Specialist

When a couple is unable to conceive, only women are scrutinized most often. Male-factor infertility is also a reality as much as female-factor fertility. Sperm health plays an essential role in male fertility and conception. Sperm parameters such as quantity, motility, quality, and morphology that are crucial for conception are largely affected by lifestyle factors.

Our day-to-day activities impact our health in more ways than we can imagine. It cannot be stressed enough that our lifestyle and eating habits do affect our reproductive health.

Read on to learn how our daily routine and lifestyle choices can hinder sperm production.


A cigarette houses more than 7000 harmful carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals along with nicotine. Increased exposure to these chemicals is a potential risk factor for male infertility. Smoking leads to decreased sperm quality and count. Smoking causes increased oxidative stress which leads to sperm DNA damage and chromosomal abnormalities. Tobacco and nicotine substances have an impact on sperm production and lead to deteriorated sperm quality.


Alcohol consumption has a detrimental impact on semen volume due to its effect on the sperm production process. It lowers testosterone hormone levels. Exposure of sperm to alcohol has deleterious consequences on its morphology and motility.

Illicit drugs

Illicit or recreational drugs have a negative impact on sperm count, morphology, and function. The use of recreational drugs disrupts the process of spermatogenesis.


Obesity is one of the major causes of fertility issues among men and affects the chances of conception. An unhealthy BMI leads to metabolic issues and hormonal imbalance. Obesity impacts testosterone hormone levels leading to decreased sperm production and sperm count. Obesity is also known to be associated with increased sperm DNA fragmentation.


High stress levels or chronic stress are linked to reduced semen volume, sperm count, and quality. Stress is also associated with abnormal sperm morphology and reduced testosterone levels. In a few cases, stress could also lead to sexual disorders such as ejaculation issues and erectile dysfunction.

Advanced paternal age

Age is one important factor that impacts men’s fertility. Although age doesn’t affect men as significantly as it does in women in terms of fertility, with increasing age there is a high probability of sperm DNA fragmentation that could lead to genetic conditions in the unborn child. Advanced paternal age is also associated with low semen volume and sperm motility.

Dietary practices

Supplying your body with good nutrition is essential for proper body functions. Lack of proper nutrition leads to vitamin deficiencies and hormonal imbalances. Men who have vitamin deficiencies are more prone to having sperm with increased DNA fragmentation. Low-quality semen is associated with the consumption of processed meat, foods with saturated fatty acids, trans-fats, and processed sugars.

Coffee consumption

Coffee consumption of more than 3-6 cups a day negatively affects the chances of conceiving. In a few studies sperm DNA damage is linked with caffeine intake.

Exposure of testicles to heat

Exposure of genitals to high temperatures due to prolonged periods of sitting or laptop use may cause heat stress and impair sperm quality. Elevated scrotal temperature leads to oxidative stress of the sperm.

How to improve sperm health?

1. Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption

2. Have a healthy and balanced diet

3. Manage your body weight with diet and exercise

4. Manage stress and anxiety with meditation and yoga

5. Consider fertility preservation if you have no plans of pregnancy

Changes in lifestyle and dietary patterns can be a great catalyst in improving reproductive health. So, if you are planning to conceive, you know where to start making the changes to improve your chances of conception.

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