Health Notes

Five Ways to Enhance Male Fertility

by Meghan Oakes, MD on October 5, 2017

Last month, my colleague, Dr. Abigail Delaney, wrote about ways women can enhance their natural fertility. It was a great article, but it got me thinking… the male partner could also use some helpful hints. It takes two to tango, right?

So what can you – the men in our lives – do to increase the chance of conception?

1. Don’t wait forever! Most people are aware that a women’s reproductive lifespan is limited. It’s the proverbial “biological clock.” But did you know that men have a “biological clock” as well? Check out these facts:

  • Epidemiological studies have shown increased rates of autism, schizophrenia and other genetic abnormalities in the offspring of older men.
  • Sperm quality deteriorates as men age.
  • Men over 40 are 30 percent less likely to conceive within a year compared to men under the age of 30.
  • Sperm motility and morphology (the percentage of normally-shaped sperm) have consistently been shown to decrease as men age.
  • Although the studies on sperm count are more variable, the bulk of the literature would suggest that sperm concentration decreases as well.
  • Increasing rates of erectile dysfunction and other medical conditions may decrease sex drive in older men.
Dr. Meghan Oakes, Methodist reproductive health specialist
Meghan Oakes, MD


2. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity has been shown to drop testosterone levels, which can increase the rates of erectile dysfunction and low libido. It can also drop sperm counts, and effect motility and morphology. Studies show that the sperm of obese men has difficulty with egg binding and fertilization. In short, men who are very overweight are less likely to have sex and more likely to ejaculate fewer sperm that are less effective.

3. Don’t smoke. Smoking has a negative effect on sperm, decreasing its concentration, motility and morphology. There is less research regarding marijuana and E-cigarettes (vaping), but it is reasonable to assume a similar effect, and that these should be avoided as well.

4. Don’t take testosterone! I can’t say this enough. Don’t, don’t, don’t take testosterone! Testosterone use is on the rise, and unfortunately, there are lots of providers prescribing it who are not aware of the potential side effects and risks. The production of testosterone is regulated by the amount of circulating testosterone in the blood stream. If that level is high because of testosterone use, the brain will shut down production in the testicles. Sperm production is shut down as well and can cease entirely! This is not a rare side effect. In fact, it is the norm. Stay away!

5. Get a semen analysis. Ok, so this isn’t the first thing you need to do, but if you’ve been trying for months or are considering starting medication, it is something that should be done. If there is any history of testicular/groin injury or surgery, a semen analysis should be obtained even earlier. Any physician can order a semen analysis at a local lab, or preferably, at a high-complexity lab with personnel that have additional training in semen analysis like the one at Reproductive Health Specialists.

If you have questions about what you need to do to help achieve a successful pregnancy speak with your Methodist Physicians Clinic OB/GYN, or give us a call at Reproductive Health Specialists at Methodist Women’s Hospital.


Dr. Meghan Oakes is a reproductive health specialist with Reproductive Health Specialists at Methodist Women’s Hospital.
Contact Dr. Delaney at
Dr. Meghan Oakes, fertility specialist, Omaha

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