Boosting Male Fertility

Your Guide: Anna Peris, PharmD. Pharmacy Fertility Specialist

The following section is designed to provide men with practical information regarding medications and herbal products that can enhance your fertility. If you are considering taking a medication or herbal product, you should first speak with your doctor.



For starters, it is important to keep in mind that just because a product is labeled as "natural", "herbal", or is available without a prescription, does not necessarily mean that it is safe to take. Some of these products may have unknown side effects and there are many "natural products" in the world that are toxic. As you will see, not only do some "natural products" not promote pregnancy but many such products have been used in other countries as contraceptive medications and abortion drugs that could be harmful to someone who is pregnant or is trying to conceive.

I cannot stress enough, that you always aproach these agents with caution and under the close supervision of a physician. The following are herbal supplements, natural products, and over-the-counter medications that have been publicized for their reported effects on infertility. Thorough reasearch has not always been done on OTC products making them confusing and sometimes misleading. This section is designed to be informative, but in no way replaces or overrides the advice of your physician. You should always notify your physician before starting any type of medication, supplement, or over the counter medication. You may wish to print this page and take it with you to discuss these products with your physician.

Vitamin E

Use: Prevent damage to sperm cells by acting as an antioxidant.

Effects: Some cases of male infertility are thought to be caused by high levels of reactive oxygen radicals. Vitamin E lowers the amount of reactive oxygen species, thus helping to maintain the structure and function of sperm. Supplementation with Vitamin E may also aid in improving sperm motility.

Side Effects: None known

Dose: 400 IU daily. Talk to your doctor prior to starting Vitamin E, particularly if you are currently taking aspirin or other blood thinners.

Zinc Sulfate

Use/Effects: Zinc plays an important role in the formation of new sperm and maintenance of sperm motility. A deficiency in zinc can result in hypogonadism, impotence, decreased sperm count or decreased motility possibly resulting in infertility. Adequate levels of zinc in the body are essential for men's reproductive health. Not all men have a zinc deficiency however - ask your doctor if he thinks zinc supplementation may be appropriate for you.

Side effects: Rarely seen at normal doses. High doses can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, metallic taste, nausea, and vomiting.

Foods high in Zinc: Oysters, organ meats, lean beef, pork, turkey, lamb, herring, wheat germ and bran, legumes, and nuts

Dose: 220 mg twice daily; talk to your doctor about a dose that is right for you. Take zinc with a full glass of water.

Yohimbe Bark (Pausinystalia Yohimbe)

Use: Primary use is for impotence.

Effects: Helps to achieve an erection. One study found that yohimbe is more effective in treating impotence compared to a placebo or sugar pill.

People who should not use this product: People with liver and kidney disease should not use this product. Patients with high blood pressure should also avoid this product.

Side Effects: Possible side effects are anxiety states, elevated blood pressure, nervousness, queasiness, sleeplessness, racing heartbeat, tremor, and vomiting.

Dose: It is critical to discuss the correct dosage of yohimbe with your health care provider. Excessive amounts of this herb may result in serious complications, including death due to cardiac failure. This herb may be effective, but must be used with EXTREME caution.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)(Other Names: Ubiquinone )

Use/Effects: Coenzyme Q is essential for life. It is an antioxidant that helps stimulate fuel production to give our cells energy. This coenzyme is found throughout the body especially in areas with high energy demand. High levels of a reactive oxygen species in men are thought to be associated with infertility. Antioxidants such as CoQ10 are thought to reduce levels of reactive oxygen species and possibly promote fertility. It is hypothesized that supplements of CoQ10 given to men with low levels may help them to increase their sperm counts and sperm mobility.

Side Effects: Rarely seen. High doses may produce nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upset.

Foods high in Co-Q-10: Beef hearts, chicken hearts, sardines, spinach, and peanuts

Dose: Doses of 15-100mg have been used, however most of the studies done with this supplement have been in patients with heart disease. Therefore, it is uncertain if this is the dose suitable for fertility enhancement.

GINSENG (Panax Ginseng)

Use/Effects: Thought to increase sexual stamina and reduce fatigue. Recent findings suggest that it may help increase sperm counts and motility, although this is still uncertain.

Side Effects: Tolerated well when used in suggested doses. Large amounts can cause restlessness and and insomnia.

Dose: Suggested dosing is 1-2 gm of the ginseng root daily.

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